By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 20 2009 - 8:58pm Tagged: Project: Balls Across America

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - 2pm AM

Photos and videos: day of action, Oct. 24:
More about Survivaballs:
More Survivaballs in action:
More about the Yes Men:

Survivaballs Storm U.S. Capitol, Citing Frustration Over Senate Inaction on Climate
Dramatic Plunge Down Capitol Steps Marks Pre-Launch Event

Washington, D.C. - On the heels of their pointed attack on the Chamber of Commerce today, the Yes Men along with other climate activists took the U.S. Capitol by storm wearing Survivaballs.

At one point, Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men, wearing a Survivaball, began a speech on the Capitol steps. "I think this is our country, our country!" he said, before being grabbed by a policeman. At that point he let out a bloodcurdling scream and tumbled all the way down the monumental Capitol steps. "I'm fine, I'm fine," he said at the bottom. "No matter what comes as a result of climate change, Survivaball can protect us." (Video here.)

At another point, a fleet of Survivaballs chased Senator Arlen Spector outside the Hart Senate Office Building. "Anyone as wishy-washy on climate issues as the Senator, who thinks that clean coal is an answer, needs a Survivaball," said Ross Finlayson, a top Surviva-model involved in the chase. "Maybe he ran away because he knew that even he couldn't afford one."

Survivaballs are the stupidest costume known to humankind, and the Yes Men say that their point is to highlight the absurdity of the Senate's slow pace in responding to climate change. Originally deployed by "Halliburton" at an insurance conference on the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast (full story here), they have now replicated, and a fleet of 20 are available as a tool for climate activists.

After their antics on the Capitol steps and in front of the Senate building, the Survivaballs continued their antics to the Chamber of Commerce, the White House and the Lincoln Memorial.

The Yes Men are known for exposing corporate greed by posing as important corporate spokespeople at business conferences. Yesterday they posed as spokesmen from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and announced that the Chamber had decided to throw its full support behind climate change legislation currently in Congress, a contentious issue over which several Chamber members have recently resigned.

"Not doing anything about climate change is even stupider than the this costume," said Bonanno. "After yesterday's encounter, and the Chamber's continued insistence it will do nothing on climate change, we realized we need to take them Survivaballs."

The actions today served as an early kickoff for the international day of climate action planned for this coming weekend. On Saturday, October 24th people in over 3,800 communities in 164 countries will come together to demand that leaders embrace the target of 350 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric carbon. (Until recently, and for at least 650,000 years, the level of atmospheric carbon never exceeded 290 ppm. The current level is 390 ppm and rising.) says that a fair, ambitious and binding climate treaty in Copenhagen this year is the only way to get the world back down to 350, and give us a fair shot at a decent future.

(Additional Survivaball information: The Survivaball pretends to be a self-contained living system specially engineered to protect the wearer from all possible climate change impacts, including droughts, floods, tornadoes, and even food shortages. It has supposedly been developed by America’s largest companies as the sole alternative to the climate bills in Congress and the UN treaty designed to combat global climate change. The activists wearing Survivaballs today sought to highlight how dire the situation will be in the coming decades if no serious action is taken to both fight and adapt to climate change.)



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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 19 2009 - 2:04pm Tagged: reveal release, chamber of commerce Project: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Goes Green

Monday, October 19, 2009, 4 PM

Business as usual; Chamber is its own parody

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a dramatic announcement at the National Press Club today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reversed its position on climate change policy, and promised to immediately cease lobbying against the Kerry-Boxer bill.


Within minutes of the Chamber's dramatic announcement, it was revealed that the "Chamber spokesperson" was an impostor, and the press conference an elaborate hoax designed by activists to draw attention to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "troglodytic" fight against climate change legislation. At the close of the news conference, a visibly rattled Chamber of Commerce spokesperson (Eric Wohlschlegel) barged into the room and declared the event a fraud. (Video here.)

The stunt was pulled off by the Yes Men, the activists best known for posing as corporate executives in order to reveal how corporate greed negatively influences public policy. Recently, the Yes Men have focused their attention on the urgent need for action on climate change. Today they sought to highlight relentless corporate lobbying of elected officials aimed at derailing domestic climate legislation and a much-needed global climate accord.

The group of reporters at the Press Club listened closely as U.S. Chamber "representative" "Hingo Sembra" (Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men) asserted that the Chamber would put its full weight behind supporting the Kerry-Boxer bill, while working with Senators Kerry and Boxer to strengthen the bill.

"We believe that climate legislation currently being considered by the U.S. Senate is a great start towards a bill that will spur American innovation, create jobs, and give us all a good chance of survival," he said. To the visible delight of reporters in the audience, he added, "We at the Chamber have tried to keep climate science from interfering with business. But without a stable climate, there will be no business."

The Chamber has recently come under fire for launching multi-million dollar advertising campaigns designed to derail climate negotiations. Their position has been so controversial that Apple, Exelon, PNM Resources, PG&E, PSEG, Levi Strauss & Co, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce have all left the U.S. Chamber, and Nike very publicly stepped down from the board.

"The Chamber's position against climate legislation is completely troglodytic," said Bichlbaum. "The rest of the world sees the need for urgent action on the climate. The rest of the world's rich countries have pledged large emissions reductions. With scientists saying if we don't reduce carbon emissions, then sooner or later we're doomed, the Chamber represents corporate America at its most backwards."

"An entity claiming to represent the public good, but that opposes action on the climate, is obviously illegitimate," Bichlbaum added.

News outlets were quick to jump on the story, including a Reuters story which was reprinted in the New York Times and elsewhere. The Chamber's "about-face" was also reported on Fox Business Network and CNBC before the anchors were forced to retract in mid-sentence.

At the end of Sembra's remarks, Eric Wohlschlegel confronted Bichlbaum. In the stand-off, both accused the other of being a fraud. The standoff ended with Wohlschlegel dispensing his business card to reporters in the room, and attempting to field a number of pointed questions about the Chamber's real stance on climate legislation currently in Congress, which the real Chamber opposes. (Video here.)

"Mr. Wohlschlegel was feeling defensive," added Bichlbaum. "He should, what with the Chamber's ridiculous stance in the face of all science."

International climate talks are currently stalled, largely because the U.S. negotiators won't make any promises that Congress can't keep. Breaking the gridlock in negotiations will require the passage of ambitious U.S. legislation within the next 2 months.

An official response from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce read: "These irresponsible tactics are a foolish distraction from the serious effort by our nation to reduce greenhouse gases."

"The only irresponsibility and distraction here is the Chamber's doublespeak," said Bichlbaum. "They're pretending to support the idea of legislation while opposing actual proposed legislation."

The Yes Men collaborated on this action with activists from, the "Climate Pledge of Resistance," which calls on citizens to risk arrest in the interest of creating pressure for sane climate legislation, and received tactical support from the DC Climate Action Factory, a semi-autonomous group of climate activists sponsored by

The Yes Men will be holding a rally tomorrow at 10:30am on the Capitol lawn, northeast corner (across from the Dirksen Senate Office Building), to kick off the Day of Climate Action by showcasing a fleet of SurvivaBalls, an alternate solution to climate change that protects America's most valuable citizens from the ravages of climate change.


See also:

UPDATE: Chamber of Commerce knocks out entire Mayfirst hosting company over
UPDATE #2: Chamber uses Yes Men hoax to raise money! Seriously. Not a joke (apparently).
UPDATE #3: Chamber of Commerce sues the Yes Men (also apparently not a joke)
UPDATE #4: Chamber cries uncle, drops lawsuit

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 22 2009 - 11:02pm Tagged: Project: Balls Across America

20 Survivaballs were deployed along the coast of the East River in New York City on the eve of a critical climate meeting at the United Nations.

Unfortunately, not all of the proper permits were solicited beforehand to the relevant city authorities, and the product demonstration was cut short before the Survivaballs were able to demonstrate their aquatic multi-functionality. Minutes after the balls began wading into the water, law enforcement swooped in on the protesters by land, sea, and air. In order not to harm their attackers, the balls admitted defeat and waddled out of the water and off the beach.

Luckily for potential customers, and those world leaders meeting upriver at the UN to discuss an international treaty on climate change mitigation, the "Balls Across America" campaign was covered extensively in a hilarious prime-time spot on CNN, and in media around the world.

"In general we Yes Men hope our actions aren't dependent on police misconduct to make them a success," said Andy Bichlbaum, who had been handcuffed and sent off to a twenty-four hour bout of R&R at "the Tombs" in lower Manhattan. (He'd been snagged for an unpaid bicycle ticket. That part was OK—but the police misconduct wasn't.) "With 'Balls Across America,' our goal is to get arrested fair and square, all across this fair land of ours," said Yes Men co-founder Mike Bonanno. "It's a great way to get attention for a crucial issue."

Despite the snafu with law enforcement, the launch was a major success. In ensuing months Survivaballs were spotted at hot spots around the world, from a G20 meeting in Pittsburgh to the crucial climate meetings in Copenhagen, and beyond.

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Jun 14 2007 - 6:23pm Tagged: Project: Exxon's climate-victim candles

June 14, 2007

Conference organizer fails to have Yes Men arrested

   Text of speech, photos, video:
   GO-EXPO statement:
   Press conference before this event, Friday, Calgary:
   More links at end of release.

Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC) representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen at GO-EXPO, Canada's largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta, today.

The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the major highlight of this year's conference, which had 20,000 attendees. In it, the "NPC rep" was expected to deliver the long-awaited conclusions of a study commissioned by US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, who is also the chair of the study. (See link at end.)

In the actual speech, the "NPC rep" announced that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.

"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said "NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.

"Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production," noted "Exxon rep" "Florian Osenberg" (Yes Man Mike Bonanno). "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left."

The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit "commemorative candles" supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an "Exxon janitor" who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

At that point, Simon Mellor, Commercial & Business Development Director for the company putting on the event, strode up and physically forced the Yes Men from the stage. As Mellor escorted Bonanno out the door, a dozen journalists surrounded Bichlbaum, who, still in character as "Shepard Wolff," explained to them the rationale for Vivoleum.

"We've got to get ready. After all, fossil fuel development like that of my company is increasing the chances of catastrophic climate change, which could lead to massive calamities, causing migration and conflicts that would likely disable the pipelines and oil wells. Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."

"We're not talking about killing anyone," added the "NPC rep." "We're talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year. That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel."

Security guards then dragged Bichlbaum away from the reporters, and he and Bonanno were detained until Calgary Police Service officers could arrive. The policemen, determining that no major infractions had been committed, permitted the Yes Men to leave.

Canada's oil sands, along with "liquid coal," are keystones of Bush's Energy Security plan. Mining the oil sands is one of the dirtiest forms of oil production and has turned Canada into one of the world's worst carbon emitters. The production of "liquid coal" has twice the carbon footprint as that of ordinary gasoline. Such technologies increase the likelihood of massive climate catastrophes that will condemn to death untold millions of people, mainly poor.

"If our idea of energy security is to increase the chances of climate calamity, we have a very funny sense of what security really is," Bonanno said. "While ExxonMobil continues to post record profits, they use their money to persuade governments to do nothing about climate change. This is a crime against humanity."

"Putting the former Exxon CEO in charge of the NPC, and soliciting his advice on our energy future, is like putting the wolf in charge of the flock," said "Shepard Wolff" (Bichlbaum). "Exxon has done more damage to the environment and to our chances of survival than any other company on earth. Why should we let them determine our future?"

   About the NPC and ExxonMobil: About the NPC and Exon Mobil
   About the Alberta oil sands: About Alberta oil sands
   About liquid coal: Sierra club on liquid coal

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