The tragedy of the climate dildos

This is what happens when the fossil fuel industry is not made to pay for climate disasters.

They’re selling dildos to raise money for the climate crisis.

I repeat: They’re selling dildos to raise money for the climate crisis.

On Thursday, an Australia-based company called Geeky Sex Toys unveiled “The Down-Under Donation Dildo,” the proceeds from which will go toward relief for the country’s devastating climate-fueled wildfires. The product is a 6-inch, canary yellow, 100 percent silicone penis, attached to a bright green outline of the continent of Australia. On the shaft sits a tiny koala, reminding users of the 25,000 animals feared dead from the blazes. It costs 69 dollars (nice!) and is 100 percent waterproof (yikes!). “Helping has never felt so good,” the company’s marketing material says.

The Down-Under Donation Dildo is very silly. As of Sunday night, Geeky Sex Toys’s original tweet about the product had more than 3,000 retweets and 5,500 likes, and most responses were jokes. “When we Aussies say our country's fucked... im not sure this is what we had in mind,” one user said. “Gives new meaning to ‘down under,’” said another.

But the Down-Under Donation Dildo is also working. On Monday, Geeky Sex Toys announced that it had raised more than $15,000 for wildfire relief since it launched the product on Thursday.

Given that the average profit margin for a dildo is about 25 dollars, that would mean that about 600 people have bought koala-stamped silicone penises to help Australians deal with the climate crisis. (I reached out to Geeky Sex Toys to try to confirm this; I’ll update you if I hear back).

In some ways, this is great. A small sex toy business generously devoted time and energy to wildfire recovery, and didn’t take any profit from it. Their effort not only raised money for the cause, but added some much-needed comic relief to a grim situation.

But in other ways—three other ways, specifically—the Down-Under Donation Dildo story is downright tragic.

The first reason—and I can’t believe I’m writing this—is that we shouldn’t have to sell silicone penises to pay for the effects of climate change. Really, we shouldn’t have to sell anything to pay for the effects of climate change. Climate change is a problem caused in part by rampant consumerism in a fossil-fuel-powered economy. Creating demand for a new petrochemical-based product to be produced and shipped in that economy defeats the purpose.

The second reason the dildo donation drive is tragic is that it illustrates how far away Australia is from financial relief. John Quiggin, an Australian Laureate Fellow in economics at the University of Queensland, estimated over the weekend that Australia’s wildfire recovery alone might cost $100 billion—and the country’s government has only pledged $2 billion. So while 600 sales is great, Geeky Sex Toys would have to sell approximately 4 billion koala-stamped silicone penises and take no profit make up for gap.

That’s not only a ridiculous number of dildos; it’s a ridiculous amount of effort to expect from a small company that hasn’t contributed much to the climate crisis. And that’s the third reason the Down-Under Donation Dildo story is tragic—because it’s just another example of regular people doing far more than fossil fuel companies and billionaires, in proportion to their relative wealth and moral responsibility, to meet the excessive financial demands of climate change.

Australia is on fire, and selling sex toys is among their best options to put it out.

The richest and most culpable are doing next to nothing

We are not all created equal when it comes to responsibility for the climate crisis. Research published in the journal Climatic Change shows that just 90 companies are responsible for nearly two-thirds of historical greenhouse gas emissions.

These companies are mostly fossil fuel and cement companies, and most have done nothing to help pay for Australia’s ongoing climate disaster. Chevron is a notable exception; as we reported here last week, the oil company donated $1 million to Australia wildfire relief.

Chevron’s donation is paltry, however, given its earnings and relative contribution to the climate crisis. Not only is Chevron the second-largest historical emitter of all the 90 companies, it also earned about $15 billion in 2018. So a $1 million donation amounts to about .00667 of its yearly earnings. To the average American, that donation would amount to about $3.96.

Amazon, too, is donating to Australia wildfire relief, to the tune of about $700,000. But again this is again paltry, considering the company’s earnings and relative contribution to the climate crisis As VICE reported on Sunday, “the donation hurts Amazon’s bottom line as much as it would hurt a person worth $50,000 to donate three cents.” Plus, VICE added:

Amazon has the biggest carbon footprint in the tech industry … has many active partnerships with fossil fuel companies (including Woodside Petroleum, Australia's largest oil and gas company),… [and] threatened to fire employees who have pushed the company to reduce its carbon footprint.

Individuals who don’t contribute nearly as much to the climate crisis are donating much more than these huge companies.

Australian comedian Celeste Barber, for instance, has raised more than $40 million from regular people in a Facebook fundraiser. Leonardo DiCapiro’s environmental group just recently announced a $3 million donation. Kylie Jenner announced a $1 million donation, as did Elton John. The pop singer P!nk pledged $500,000, as did Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban.

A Los-Angeles based Instagram model claims to have raised $700,000 by giving away nude photos in exchange for charitable donations.

And then, of course, there’s everyone who bought a koala dildo. Rest assured, if you bought one and you’re worth as much as the average American, you donated about 17 times more than Chevron did in proportion to your income.

This is what happens when climate relief payments are voluntary

None of this is meant to imply that individuals should stop donating to wildfire relief, or to any climate disaster. Society has long relied on the kindness and generosity of others to provide help during extreme weather crises.

But the weather disasters we’re experiencing now are not like the weather disasters of the past, and thus shouldn’t be treated the same way. They’re not solely acts of God anymore, but human-caused—and some humans caused them more than others.

Those humans, however, have demonstrated that they aren’t willing to do their part to pay for the climate disasters they helped fuel. The voluntary system is no longer working. Thus, a mandatory system of payment must be considered. Otherwise, Australia’s best hope for recovery will continue to rest on sex toy companies and celebrities selling nudes.

They will be literally, and figuratively, screwed.

And now, a Spiderman meme

Welcome to the weekly meme section. HEATED is the only publication on the internet that has an “editorial memeist,” the modern-day version of an editorial cartoonist. We do this because climate change is generally depressing. We need a little lolz.

This week’s meme references last week’s subscribers-only post about the country’s largest oil and gas trade group, the American Petroleum Institute.

On Tuesday, API launched a new “seven figure” PR campaign and advertising push to convince the public that it’s a good-faith partner in the fight against climate change. The group’s campaign comes after decades of funding climate science denial and climate policy delay.

For more information about API’s new initiative and the oil industry’s decades-long, billion-dollar effort to control the climate change conversation, I recommend reading this article by the Guardian’s Emily Holden.

You can follow HEATED’s editorial memeist, @climemechange, on Instagram.

You can also follow there, too.

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