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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Survivaball of the Fittest

Air Date: Week of September 25, 2009

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The Yes Men are Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno

While delegates at the UN Climate Summit discussed options for avoiding climate disaster, some novel thinkers planned for the worst. The activist prankster duo, the Yes Men, unveiled a new product- the Survivaball - a six foot wide inflatable suit designed to weather all impending natural catastrophes. Host Jeff Young speaks with Yes Man Mike Bonanno.

Transcript

YOUNG: Amid all the gloomy global warming scenarios of rising seas and fierce storms, one company offers a way out. Not far from the United Nations building in New York the company showed off a product advertised as the individualÂ’s way to guard against the ravages of climate change. ItÂ’s called Survivaball.

[SURVIVABALL COMMERCIAL; WOMAN SAYING, “EACH SURVIVABALL CONTAINS ALL THE TOOLS YOU NEED TO ENJOY A SAFE AND HAPPY STAY ON OUR CHANGING PLANET...”]

YOUNG: We caught up with one of the developers of Survivaball, Mike Bonano, for more on his intriguing product.

BONANO: With climate change coming and bringing all kinds of disasters, there has got to be a way to save all these CEOs who are creating the problem. And Survivaball is the answer – it’s a gated community for one. A survival suit six-feet in diameter that can contain a single individual and sustain them, even when everybody else is dead.

YOUNG: Now, youÂ’ve actually had a demonstration of the Survivaball, youÂ’ve tried floating them out into the East river in New York?


In a scene from their new movie, The Yes Men Change the World, Mike and Andy demonstrate how the Survivaball can be used in common leisure activities. (Photo by theyesmen.org)

BONANO: Absolutely. All week weÂ’ve been using Survivaballs in New York and the lead up to the big climate negotiations at the U.N. We had 21 of them that were planning to enter the East river and float up to the U.N. and basically sit in on the negotiations, but unfortunately the police came right away and turned us back. And, Andy was arrested.

YOUNG: Andy is your partner and we should probably reveal at this point youÂ’re actually part of the prankster duo known as the Yes Men.

BONANO: Ah, yes. I guess I let the cat out of the bag, didnÂ’t I?

YOUNG: (Laughing) WhatÂ’s the point of doing Survivaball?

BONANO: Well, you know, we want to highlight what is the primary problem that the civilization faces at the moment, which is climate change. And sometimes doing it with a little bit of humor goes to places that the serious and dire messages donÂ’t.

And so, you know, itÂ’s funny, it attracts attention and when people are in these Survivaball costumes, itÂ’s really hard for the police to figure out what to do about it, because thereÂ’s no place to really grab onto the them. They donÂ’t really know where the person is inside the costume. So itÂ’s a great, and strange, and funny costume to get in for acts of civil disobedience.


The Yes Men are Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno

YOUNG: Have you had anyone take you up on this, and say, I like this idea. Where can I get one?

BONANO: Oh, yes, in fact the first time we made them was because we were representing Halliburton at a catastrophic loss conference and the audience of insurance industry reps actually applauded and several of them were interested in it.

YOUNG: So, youÂ’ve had that, and youÂ’d think thatÂ’d be enough. But for this week in New York when the worldÂ’s attention was focused on climate change, you decided to print a newspaper that would be focused on the news about climate change.

BONANO: That’s right. We worked with a bunch of other activist organizations and we put together a fake New York Post, and the headline there is “We’re Screwed: What you’re not being told; official city reports massive climate catastrophes, public health disasters.”

And everything in this fake Post is absolutely true. What we see is that papers like the Post donÂ’t give adequate coverage to climate change, and since they werenÂ’t doing it, we took matters into our own hands.

YOUNG: Is it hard to find the funny in climate change?

BONANO: Well, you know, it is incredible depressing because itÂ’s incredibly scary, but you know, it is easy to see the funny in a black humor sort of way, because our approach to it is so absurd. You know, like having technical solutions to climate change, when we know exactly what we need to do, and that is reduce emissions.

YOUNG: Mike Bonano is one half of the Yes Men. Thanks for your time.

BONANO: Thank you!

 

Links

The Yes Men

 

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