It's time, once again, to bring you the news that is not yet news.
For those not yet aware, there will be a climate change conference in New York City next week, conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.
The 100 world leaders who will be participating in the conference will be arriving on Monday, and if you're in New York City the same day, you have a chance to participate in a not-to-be-forgotten "welcome event" and pranking opportunity.
Follow along and I'll tell you how to get involved--and if you do, they'll even send you home with a lovely parting gift.
To really understand this story you need to know a little bit about some of the best "merry pranksters" out there, The Yes Men, so before we go any farther, let's cover that base.
The Yes Men an Bhopal Park
Imagine if there was a group of people who specialized in impersonating capitalism as a means of exposing the reality of "profit before all else", and that their impersonations occur in ways that even the capitalists don't see coming--and sometimes don't even recognize while it's happening.
Imagine no more, because The Yes Men, not unlike Mighty Mouse, have "come to save the day."
My favorite example of what they do is what I think of as the "Bhopal Prank".
Union Carbide was the majority owner of a company that owned a manufacturing facility in Bhopal, India; a leak of methyl isocyanate gas from that facility immediately killed 3,800 people in the early morning hours of December 3, 1984. It is now estimated that as many as 25,000 people may have died over the years as a result of the leak. More than 500,000 have received some form of compensation for injuries related to the events of that day.
The Indian Government assumed legal control of the liability issues arising from the incident, which turned out to be pretty good for Union Carbide, as the average settlement to the families of the deceased has been about $2,200 (for a total of about $470 million), a number that's probably quite a bit lower than if the liability question had been adjudicated in a US venue. Settlements notwithstanding, litigation continues to this day in the Indian Court system.
Union Carbide denied that they were operating the facility at the time, a position with which other observers strongly disagree (at one point, the company also asserted that sabotage from Sikh separatists was responsible for the leak). The disagreement has been so strong that on July 31 of this year a court in India issued an arrest warrant for Warren Anderson, Union Carbide's former CEO.
As of this date no environmental cleanup has been undertaken at the Bhopal site, and technical information relating to this gas and the dispersal event remain unavailable to the local medical and scientific community.
Among the assets Dow Chemical acquired from Union Carbide as part of their 2001 takeover of the company was an incredible amount of bad will related to the leak and the continuing denial of responsibility...which brings us back to The Yes Men.
"If you were wise you would learn life only by inexperience. That is what makes it always unexpected and delightful. Never to realize--that is the true ideal."
--Laurence Housman, "Echo de Paris; a study from life".
On the 20th anniversary of the leak, Dow spokesman Jude Finisterra made worldwide headlines by announcing on the BBC that Dow would now accept full responsibility for the deaths, injuries, and environmental damage caused by the Union Carbide operation, and that they would dedicate $12 billion to the remediation effort.
Roughly two hours later, an actual Dow spokesman announced that they were not, in fact, doing any such thing; and Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men (who, as you might have guessed, was also "Jude Finisterra") appeared on the BBC for a second time that day to explain their highly successful prank. The video of that appearance suggests that the BBC was not amused. (Neither was Dow, who saw their stock go down 3% during that hour or so.)
It's not their only prank (see: The Halliburton SurvivaBall)--and tomorrow, if you're in New York City, you can help pull off another.
Give the pranksters a helping hand
Here's what you do to join in the fun:
Go right now to http://newyorkbigevent.com/ and sign up. You will either be notified by "TwitterPhone" or standard text that you've signed up, and between now and tomorrow morning you will receive instructions by text on that same phone.
Show up for the event--even for a few minutes, if that's all the time you have--and a statement will be made, fun will be had, and an international climate change conference will get the kind of kickoff it really deserves.
Not to mention, you'll be leaving with a cool gift.
Today's story is a short one, so let's wrap it all up:
In an effort to help people see corporate criminals for who they really are, The Yes Men create dark and beautiful pranks, and they pull them on people who truly deserve it.
Tomorrow, in an effort to "set the right tone" for the international climate change conference taking place in New York City, another one of these pranks will occur--and you can be a part of it all, in front of an audience of millions and more or less 100 arriving heads of state.
So get over there (again, http://newyorkbigevent.com/), get signed up...and tomorrow, get involved in doing something you won't soon forget.
The entire Planet Earth, with the exception of Senator James Inhofe, will thank you.