Monday, June 18, 2007

Vivoleum is People

The Yes Men have struck again. This time it's an oil and gas conference.

Protesters spring hoax on oil expo audience
Yes Men ejected from conference
Sean Myers, with files from Ashok Dutta and Gina Teel,
Calgary Herald
Friday, June 15, 2007

By the time candles supposedly made from remains of a deceased ExxonMobil janitor named Reggie Watts were handed out, an audience of oil and gas professionals attending a keynote luncheon at Calgary's Gas and Oil Exposition realized they'd been had.

A man named "S.K. Wolff," claiming to be an analyst for the Washington-based National Petroleum Council, and co-speaker "Florian Osenberg," said to represent ExxonMobil, were getting ready to show a memorial video made by Watts when security officers forcibly ushered the two men from the stage.

"This was a great opportunity for us, like the holy grail, really," said Bichlbaum. "We've never had an audience like this. These people are wrecking the Earth and they're quite conscious of it."
The premise of the presentation, which included a PowerPoint lecture by "S.K. Wolff," was that as humans begin to die as a result of calamities caused by climate change, their remains could be harvested for an alternative fuel source called "vivoleum" that would eventually replace oil.

Osenberg, supposedly the director of human resources with the vivoleum program, took the stage carrying a lit candle while volunteers handed out candles to the audience.
The approximately 250 assembled guests were told the vivoleum for the candles had been "sourced" from an ExxonMobil maintenance worker who donated it before dying of cancer. (see video)

"The organizers were furious," said Bichlbaum. "They thought we should be charged with crimes against humanity or something. The police were great. They were just going to let us go but the organizers insisted we be charged with criminal trespass." more

Here's a piece of an interview with Bichlbaum from Wired:

The Yes Men, a corporate ethics activist group, have become famous for impersonating company officials and delivering satirical pronouncements about industry practices and policies.

Their latest target was the Gas and Oil Exposition 2007 in Calgary, Alberta, where Yes Men members Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum impersonated industry officials and announced a plan to turn human flesh into fuel. Wired Science talked with Bichlbaum today.

Wired Science: Is there a cut-and-dry message that you were trying to get across?

Andy Bichlbaum: Billions and billions of dollars are being spent on technologies to extract fuel in dirty ways. The fuel itself dirty, and the billions that are being spent could be spent on wind and solar power, which are clean and don't involve much environmental degradation at all. Why is this? Because there's no governments forcing them to do that. In fact, they're doing the opposite -- governments are giving the oil companies all the tax breaks in the world. (clip)

WS: Some people would say that antagonizing companies like Exxon is counterproductive, since they're going to have to have a seat at the table too if we're going to solve these problems.

Bichlbaum: That's total f*#&ing bu!%$*it. When you're talking about Shell or BP or Exxon or any of these oil companies, it's all they do. They can pretend to do better, or not do a little better -- that's the difference between Shell and Exxon. One's as bad as the other. Shell acts all nice, pretends to be better, funds wind research and solar research, and Exxon doesn't -- but they're doing the same thing.

They're pumping billions into research on how to extract oil. You don't engage in a dialogue with them. If you do, it's like treading water. Like giving a popsicle stick to a drowning person, saying this will help a little bit, and what we need is a raft, a boat, a way to stem the tide of corporate greed, and that's only going to happen through sustained political will .

The sort of tactics that overthrew British colonialism are the tactics we need today.

WS: You're calling for physical violence?

Bichlbaum: No, I meant British colonialism in India! That's nonviolence.

Bichlbaum finishes with this:

"There's so many devious forces out there that take advantage of the way that scientists have to express themselves. In fact, all the articles published about climate change agree that it's happening and is grave, but there are a couple of authentic scientists who doubt, so it's presented as a debate -- and the ones who believe strongly that it's happening will never say there's no doubt, because that's not scientific, and the PR companies take advantage of that and cast it for their clients as real doubt, in the conventional nonscientific sense.

WS: So you're saying it's the job of scientists to produce facts, and of journalists to present them sensibly?

Bichlbaum: I absolutely think so. It's the journalists' role. Scientists should present facts, but journalists must distinguish between them. "

And an activist should be active, smart, and relentless.

The Yes Men certainly get my vote of appreciation.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a hoot, hilarious! A take-off on the 1973 movie, Soylent Green with Charleton Heston. Glad the Yes Men were creatively funny.

I've spoken with a few people in Houston who attended the Calgary conference; no one mentioned the Yes Men skit!

Today's NY Times has an article (6/18) by Edmund Andrews entitled "Democrats Plan to Cut Oil Subsidies" about Senator Bingaman's bill that proposes removing oil and gas subsidies and using the Billions saved to fund alternative energy, including wind and solar.

3:37 PM  
Blogger respectisthehub said...

High fructose corn syrup is what they use to make Solyent Green...and now apparently vivoleum.

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the spoof presentation, the way I understood it, the proposed vivoleum didn't derive from a vegative source--it was made from the remains of humans who died from the effects of environmental insult brought about by the oil companies.

11:17 AM  

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