The Common Good

Video: Fake Newspaper Prints Real News on Climate Change

On Monday, millions of people received a "special edition" of The New York Post that told the truth: "We're Screwed." I guess only fake newspapers can print real news.

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More than 2,000 volunteers of The Yes Men, a "culture jamming" group, distributed a fake edition of The Post in New York City. The group's previous prank against The New York Times incorporated an Onion-esque fake paper with fake news. But this time, the fake paper contained real news.

The 32-page Post and accompanying Web site cite environmental issues from a February 2009 report from the New York City Panel On Climate Change, a study commissioned by Mayor Bloomberg. The lead article, "It's Coming!" notes that our carbon emissions will cause New York to experience "dangerous increases in temperature, extreme weather, and sea level rise."

The article encourages readers to "put pressure on government -- local, state and federal -- to convert our entire energy systems to sustainable sources." The "staff writer" urges leaders at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh "to make the tough decisions and policy changes that will turn the heat down on New York and the world before it's too late."

The Yes Men strategically placed their news at the pinnacle of news surrounding the upcoming summit. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is expected to push 100 world leaders on climate change at the Copenhagen conference in December 2009.

In a speech on August 10 in Seoul, Ki-Moon said leaders have a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" in order " to avoid catastrophic consequences for people and the planet." He warned that climate change is "simply the greatest collective challenge we face as a human family."

But environmental author Bill McKibben fears legislation will be too weak. In the May 2009 issue of Sojourners, McKibben explained why "350 is the most important number on earth."

"A year ago, our foremost climatologist, NASA scientist James Hansen, published a study showing that the maximum concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere compatible with the 'planet on which civilization developed' and to which 'life on earth is adapted' is 350 parts per million," McKibben wrote. "That's a tough number, because we're already past it."

McKibben's 350 environmental organization has organized an International Day of Climate Action for October 24, 2009.

The 350 organization is a partner of the Global Wake Up Call, which incorporated over 1,500 events in 112 countries, including the fake Post newspaper.

Sheldon C. Good is the media assistant for Sojourners.

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