Print 61 comment(s) - last by rcc.. on Jan 8 at 4:19 PM

The Yes Men: folk heroes, or cyber-terrorists?  (Source: Guerilla Innovation)
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." -- Mark Twain

In the 1990s the theory that the world was warming and humans were causing it -- anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory -- came into vogue.  Since, researchers have been unable to accurately model the climate trends and the Earth has even experienced cooling, virtually dashing wishful thinking of a global heatwave.

Undeterred by the lack of solid supporting evidence for their novel theories, international governments today stand on the verge of adopting expensive new carbon taxation schemes.  Ironically, these talks -- the Copenhagen summit -- come just weeks after many of the most prominent studies to support the theory were apparently exposed to be faked (see DailyTech's coverage on the CRU scandal).

Deep in the thick of the warming mess is pair of hooligans-cum-AGW theory "advocates", who call themselves "The Yes Men".  Critics call the pair essentially digital terrorists or worse.  They accuse the pair of spreading a long trail of libel, lies, and misinformation that has damaged many legitimate firms.

"The Yes Men" defend their actions, saying they're "Cutting the Corporate" crap.  They're beloved figures in the green and anarchist communities, which hold them up as Robin Hood-esque figures.  That's little comfort to thousands of employees and investors with Exxon, Halliburton, British Petroleum, Dow Chemical and others that have lost their jobs or tidy sums based on the havoc the pair's phony news stories and fraudulent web pages stir up.

Surprisingly, you won't find "The Yes Men" behind bars or sued out of house and home for libel and computer fraud.  Instead, the pair exists quite prosperously in New York City.  Despite their alter-egos' stance of anti-consumerism, the pair leads quite a posh lifestyle in New York City, with Igor Vamos (alias "Mike Bonanno") teaching as an associate professor of media arts at the prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Jacque Servin (alias "Andy Bichlbaum") teaching as an assistant professor in subversion at the pricey Parsons The New School for Design in New York City.

Together the flamboyant pair recently committed their biggest hoax to date, this time impersonating a government organization.  The pair faked press releases from the Canadian government, claiming to announce pledges of drastic carbon cuts.

In reality, the Canadian government is likely to proceed with smaller cuts, and they did not appreciate the misinformation.  They contacted the ISP of the sites hosting the hoaxed content and were able to secure its take down.  They also briefly blocked a series of similar domain names to prevent the cyber fakers from changing the site name.  About 4,500 non-affiliated sites were briefly taken down, but have since been restored to working order.

While critics are saying "The Yes Men" are lucky not to be facing criminal and civil charges, the pair instead has cried that they are victims, audaciously declaring that they are being censored.  Emboldened, the pair is cooking up more pseduo-legal stunts for the near future, that will invariably result in more damage to legitimate businesses and government entities.

In the pair's discussions with The Seattle Pi and the blogosphere, they have said that their actions were driven in part by the Alberta Sands oil project, a proposed Canadian oil excavation endeavor.  Some estimates have suggested that the project will locally increase emissions by 165 percent, a figure critics like "The Yes Men" have pounced on.  Critics neglect to note the positive impact this project might have.

Worldwide oil sands -- primarily found in Canada and Venezuela, likely hold two thirds of the world's crude oil.  The Alberta sands, better known as the Athabasca Oil Sands are estimated to hold 170 billion barrels (27×109 m3) of easily extractable crude oil (a mere 10 percent of the total in the sands).  Oil companies have worked with the government to establish plans to minimize carbon and environmental impacts of any extraction projects.

The new projects, on the verge of government approval, could create tens or even hundreds of thousands of new Canadian jobs in an industry that already employs 500,000.  Additionally they could make Canada the world's second largest oil producer -- behind only Saudi Arabia (OPEC).  This would allow the U.S. and other commercial partners to enjoy decades of affordable power from a politically stable source.  Amid these benefits, it's clear that the issue is not as black and white as the critics claim.

Returning to the celebrated cyber phonies and their hoax, the actions of "The Yes Men" do at least raise some interesting questions -- chiefly: in the digital age, is misinformation and hoaxes protected under freedom of speech?  If this is partially true at least, how far should the protections go -- to false statements about individuals, to falsehoods about businesses, or to fraudulent government sites, even?  Conversely, if this kind of speech is illegal, who should be the judge of that in the international community, which shares the internet?

Further, should the legality be impacted by profit based on misinformation?  Current laws clearly provide grounds to prosecute phishers who steal peoples' credit card information.  What about individuals like "The Yes Men" who profit based on media works (books, movies, etc.) or prominent positions resulting from their escapades?  Should this be grounds for criminal or civil punishment?

Indeed "The Yes Men" and their warming farce raise many questions, if perhaps not the ones they intended.  Perhaps the biggest question of them all is whether this is truly the kind of figures that the self-proclaimed "green community" wants to embrace.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Wishful thinking
By Kim Leo on 1/4/2010 6:24:18 AM , Rating: 0
This has been debated to death at places like youtube, sometimes we have to accept facts even when they point towards something that is uncomfortable There's no huge scientific dispute about this, scientists who disagree are mostly scientist in another field, or not scientists at all but lawyers(Gee wonder why) But don't take my words for it, I'm not too much into it so that I can debate it well enough. I suggest if you want to see someone taking this on seriously go to youtube search for greenman3610 but I do know that the "earth has been cooling" thing is very much bs and that can be seen on that youtube channel.

RE: Wishful thinking
By tastyratz on 1/4/2010 8:48:35 AM , Rating: 2
youtube can be a stretch for a credible source.

There is plenty of supporting evidence on both sides. The fact of the matter is that humans are way to elitist to think anything that could happen which is not directly related to their actions. Surely it couldn't be happening naturally?

The earth has had warming and cooling for millions and millions of years before we were even here and will continue to do so long after we are gone.

RE: Wishful thinking
By Sandok on 1/5/2010 7:32:25 AM , Rating: 1
Plenty of evidence on both sides? Please, the evidence against Global Warming is as promising as all those doctors in the 1950s saying that smoking isn't bad for you at all and actually healthy! In other words, a load of bull.

RE: Wishful thinking
By blaster5k on 1/5/2010 11:59:15 AM , Rating: 4
Are you actually familiar with what the evidence is that supports global warming? Based on your posts, it doesn't seem like it.

Correlation and causation are two different things. The fact that temperatures have gone up or down doesn't mean anything in and of itself. To prove causation, you have to prove that man's contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere is directly responsible. The only "evidence" for that lies in climate models.

CO2 may be a greenhouse gas, but the effect of the added CO2 in the atmosphere is negligible in and of itself. This is agreed on by global warming proponents. The predictions of catastrophic warming rely on "feedbacks" -- these are predicted events that occur in response to increased CO2.

Changes in one thing will cause changes in other things. The problem is, it's difficult to figure out the relationship between variables. Clouds in particular are poorly understood and modeled, yet play a big part in the climate system.

All I can say is, I used to think global warming was real until I researched it more -- now I'm skeptical. That's not to say it isn't possible, but I do not trust that a computer model can accurately predict temperatures 100 years from now. Not for something as complex as the earth's climate.

I'm also unconvinced that spending trillions of dollars to "stop" global warming is better than adapting to any changes that may occur. Increased energy costs will indirectly kill people too -- mainly the poor.

RE: Wishful thinking
By mindless1 on 1/6/2010 5:25:29 AM , Rating: 2
Just ignore Sandok and others who pretend knowledge of "facts" without even a basic grasp of the scientific method.

They aren't worth the time and will never have a clue because they skipping the stage in life where one becomes a rational thinker.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Yahoo Hacked - Change Your Passwords and Security Info ASAP!
September 23, 2016, 5:45 AM
A is for Apples
September 23, 2016, 5:32 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki