In a front-page ad in today's International Herald Tribune, the leaders
of the European Union thank the European public for having engaged in
months of civil disobedience leading up to the Copenhagen climate
conference that will be held this December. "It was only thanks to your
massive pressure over the past six months that we could so dramatically
shift our climate-change policies.... To those who were arrested, we
There was only one catch: the paper was fake.
* Civil-disobedience database: http://BeyondTalk.net
* PDF of printed newspaper: http://iht.greenpeace.org/
* Online version: http://www.iht-se.com/
* Video: http://iht.greenpeace.org/
video/ (coming soon)
The paper describes in detail a powerful (and entirely possible) new
treaty to bring carbon levels down below 350 parts per million - the
level climate scientists say we need to achieve to avoid climate
catastrophe. One article describes how a website, http://BeyondTalk.net,
mobilized thousands of people to put their bodies on the line to
confront climate change policies - ever since way back in June, 2009.
Although the newspaper is a fake (its production and launch were
coordinated by Greenpeace), the website is real. Beyondtalk.net is part
of a growing network of websites calling for direct action on climate
change, building on statements made in recent months by noted political
figures. (For example, in September Nobel laureate Al Gore asserted that
"we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to
prevent the construction of new coal plants.")
Leading American environmentalist Bill McKibben was enthusiastic about
the newspaper's message and the methods BeyondTalk.net calls for. "We
need a political solution grounded in reality - grounded in physics and
chemistry. That will only come if we can muster a wide variety of
political tactics, including civil disobedience."
"Non-violent civil disobedience has been at the forefront of almost
every successful campaign for change," said Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes
Men, who helped write and edit the newspaper and are furnishing the
technology for BeyondTalk.net. "Especially in America, and especially
today, we need to push our leaders hard to stand up to industry
lobbyists and make the sorts of changes we need."
"Roosevelt would never have been able to push through the New Deal if
people hadn't taken to the streets, occupied factories, and demanded
it," noted newspaper writer/editor and University of California
professor Lawrence Bogad. Segregation, British rule in India, and
apartheid wouldn't have ended without a lot of people being creatively
uncooperative - even if that meant getting arrested. Nonviolent civil
disobedience is the bread and butter of progress."
The fake newspaper also has an ad for "Action Offsets," whereby those
who aren't willing to risk arrest can help those who are.
A HOPEFUL NEWS PANDEMIC?
Today's fake International Herald Tribune is part of a rash of recent
publications which mimic prominent newspapers. Last November, a fake
edition of the New York Times announced that the Iraq War was over. A
few days earlier, a hoax USA Today featured the US presidential election
result: "Capitalism Wins at the Polls: Anarchy Brewing in the Streets."
And this April 1st, a spoof edition of Germany's Zeit newspaper
triumphantly announced the end of "casino capitalism" and the abolition
of poor-country debt.
The rash of fakes is likely to continue. "People are going to keep
finding ways to get the word out about common-sense solutions those in
power say are impossible," said Kelli Anderson, one of the designers of
the fake International Herald Tribune and co-designer (with Daniel
Dunnam) of BeyondTalk.net.
"We already know what we need to do about climate change," said Agnes de
Rooij of Greenpeace International. "It's a no-brainer. Reduce carbon
emissions, or put the survival of billions of people at risk. If the
political will isn't there now, it's our duty to inspire it."