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Human energy


In the midst of big-oil record profits and growing debate on global warming, the Chevron Corporation launched its “Human Energy” public relations campaign. In television commercials and print advertisements, Chevron portrays itself as a compassionate entity striving to solve the planet’s energy crisis. Yet, the first term in this corporate oxymoron misleadingly reframes the significance of the second, suggesting that the corporation has a renewed focus. In depicting Chevron as a green/human organization, the “Human Energy” campaign obscures from view the corporation’s more unsightly products, policies, and practices. Reflection, however, on our own complicity in sustaining energy corporations and their activities undermines binary thinking and signals that the compulsion to denounce is insufficient. This article explores Chevron’s media campaign and one organized reaction to it. This counter-campaign both redeployed Chevron’s imagery and underscored our collusion and responsibility—tactics seeking to loosen the taut inevitability-of-oil story at Chevron’s core.

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