Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan's hoax yesterday -- announcing ANZ had withdrawn funding for Whitehaven Coal's planned Moules Creek operation -- got Crikey
thinking about some of the best green stunts over the last few years.
With the former feet-on-the-streets mentality of deep green social movements now going the way of the keyboard, the hoax has become a formidable tool in the political armoury of post-industrial warriors who've found they can jam the gears of carbonated capitalism with their smartphones and a laptop.
Much of the media -- including Fairfax's metro mastheads and The Australian Financial Review
website -- were immediately sucked in by the Whitehaven ruse and were forced to backtrack with embarrassing "how we were dudded" yarns (but not before the wily operators at Chris Mitchell's Australian
had screen-grabbed the devastating evidence).
After owning up, Moylan name-checked US culture-jamming activists the Yes Men
and ABC TV's Chaser "boys"
to explain his tactics, which led to $270 million being cleaved off the Whitehaven share price before market sheep discovered the error of their ways and restored the stock to its former glory.
The initiative taps into a rich vein of global hoax activism that Crikey
decided to rank in order of illness. A popular recent maneuver is the "false positive" -- where activists put out a devious and fake press release claiming a fossil fuel behemoth is about to do something positive, which forces the company to issue a statement denying their progressivism.
1. Yes Men Dow Chemicals stunt
On BBC News
a fake spokesman for Dow Chemicals claimed the company had finally accepted full responsibility for the 1984 Union Carbide disaster
that led on some estimates to 16,000 deaths in the Indian town of Bhopal.
2. Harvey Norman's fake furniture release
Anti-logging activists drew attention
to the company's love affair with dodgy flatpack tables and chairs by putting out a fake presser claiming it would replace furniture and flooring from native forests with plantation grown furniture ranges by June 2012. Other activists later tagged in-store furniture with fake contest QR codes that linked to an anti-logging site. The real spokesman for Harvey Norman was not amused.
3. The real mining story
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and ex-Chaser Charles Firth ("Firth with the Facts") uploaded a parody site lampooning the Australian mining industry's 2011 "Our Story" series with their own version starring fake mining billionaire Alan Billison. The thisistherealstory.com.au
site thoroughly pissed off global miner Xstrata
4. Shell gets Arctic Ready
The US arm of Greenpeace made waves
last year over a campaign purportedly emanating from Shell that painted the melting of the Arctic as an "opportunity" for the company, complete with a polar bear struggling to make frozen land. The original "viral" video generated a #shellfail hashtag on Twitter. Then, the group staged a fake "farewell" for Shell's drilling rigs at Seattle's Space Needle which were docked in Seattle at the time. With energy big wigs looking on, a ceremonial spigot-turning resulted in an undercover Occupy activist being sprayed in the face
with black gold.