Nationalized Oil to Fund Climate Change Efforts

According to The New York Times, the US oil industry is being nationalized and the profits will fund climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. That’s truly amazing.

Of course, this edition of The New York Times also includes articles with headlines like:

“Iraq war ends.”

“UN bans all weapons.”

“President Bush Indicted.”

And if you look closely, The New York Times’ tag line has been changed from “All the News Fit to Print” to “All the News We Hope to Print.”

This was a hoax, carried out by The Yes Men and others, a year ago, but it’s just as salient today—particularly a week after the massive oil spill off the coast of New Orleans. But the hoax is news to me as I missed the release of this fake paper back in January 2009 and only learned about it after watching The Yes Men Fix the World over the weekend.

In the documentary, The Yes Men described many of their hilarious stunts, but none impressed me more than their distribution of 100,000 copies of their “dream newspaper,” dated six months into the future.

As someone striving to envision a sustainable world, I have to praise The Yes Men for their spoof newspaper’s many suggestions for positive steps forward, from the passage of a “Maximum Wage Law” to making all public universities’ tuition free. This dream paper is more thorough, more beautiful, than most visions of a sustainable future, and it once again reminds me how important the work of The Yes Men is.

Of course they play an essential role as bur in the saddle of multinational corporations—as they did with Dow Chemical on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, announcing that the company would clean up its pesticide factory that exploded (and in the process triggering a 3 percent drop in the company’s stock), and again just last week, at Dow’s shockingly inappropriate greenwashing charity race, the “Live Earth Run for Water.”

But the Yes Men also act as visionaries of what a sustainable world could look like. And most importantly, they serve as a strong voice to remind people that perpetuating the current failed system is not our only choice. As one of the Yes Men noted regarding the dream future their spoof paper paints, “The idea was to put out something that was optimistic—that says we can do all these things. Why not? We created the system we have now, so why not create a good one instead?”

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