Igor Vamos, aka Mike Bonanno, says The Yes Men's latest venture, beyondtalk.net, is the real deal.
An Internet-based group of activists who specialize in political pranks say they’re seriously determined to expel all the hot air surrounding the highly combustible issue of climate change.
But can the Yes Men -- a group that has previously lampooned former President George W. Bush and impersonated officials from Dow Chemical and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- be taken seriously?
Igor Vamos, one of the Yes Men's founders, claims the Yes Men's latest venture, beyondtalk.net, is completely authentic. The group is seeking "like-minded people" to participate in non-violent acts of civil disobedience to coincide with the U.N.-hosted Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.
"It's a real site," Vamos told FOXNews.com during a phone interview from Scotland. "But right now, it's still in the planning stages."
Vamos, who uses the alias Mike Bonanno, said the site was created about three weeks ago, but it hasn't been officially launched yet. He says several environmental groups and climate action organizations will join the effort and participate in "very wacky protests" as the climate conference approaches. But Vamos declined to identify those groups.
"Not every act of civil disobedience has to be somber," Vamos said. "We're looking for ways to build up a massive coalition to put pressure on governments [regarding climate change]."
The Yes Men say they are seeking 10,000 participants to participate in the yet-to-be determined acts of civil disobedience, and they are billing it as potentially the largest act of collective protest in the demand for aggressive action against climate change. As of midday Wednesday, 2,340 people had signed up, according to the Web site.
"This action will challenge power and show our leaders the kind of change we want," the Web site reads. "It will give President Obama, for example, the excuse he needs to listen to people, not profits. … As surely as Apartheid and Segregation were ended by non-violent civil disobedience, climate policy will change too."
Vamos claims the "global" movement will take place in New York and Washington, D.C., as well as throughout the United Kingdom.
"The goal is to put as much pressure as possible on world leaders to resolve this and come up with a plan to reduce carbon emissions," he continued. "More and more people are seeing that we don't have a choice, and if we make the wrong choice, we're faced with essentially having no future."
But it's hard to take seriously the serious statements of a group that has historically been anything but serious.
Founded in 1999 by Vamos and Jacques Servin, the group first duped Internet users with a now-defunct Web site satirizing the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush, who, when asked what he thought about the site, replied: "There ought to be limits to freedom."
Servin, whose alias is Andy Bichlbaum, took things to a new level in December 2004 when he posed as "Jude Finisterra," a Dow Chemical spokesman who, during an on-air interview with the BBC, took full responsibility for the Bhopal disaster, an industrial accident that killed thousands of people in India and left tens of thousands more requiring lifelong medical care.
Bichlbaum struck again in August 2006 while posing as a U.S. housing official during a news conference alongside New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco. While claiming to be HUD's "Rene Oswin," Bichlbaum said federal housing officials were to reopen public housing facilities shuttered since Hurricane Katrina decimated the area a year earlier. HUD officials would later blast the prank as a "cruel hoax."
Servin works as a professor at New York's Parsons New School for Design, using his Bichlbaum alias. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
For his part, Vamos once posed as "Florian Ossenberg" of ExxonMobil during a press conference in Canada in June 2007. During his remarks to more than 300 oil industry executives, Vamos said the U.S. and Canadian energy policies at the time severely increased the risk of global environmental calamaties.
"It's kind of an extreme sport, an extreme eco-sport," said Vamos, who works as an associate professor in the art department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York. "We're a group of creative activists. Our goal is to make trouble where trouble can help."
Michael Crocker, a spokesman for Greenpeace USA, said the environmental group holds similar views as The Yes Men, but said he was unaware of any formal relationship with the pranksters. But Crocker said December's conference in Copenhagen is "absolutely monumental" to addressing the future of the global climate.
"People need to make their voices heard," he said.
Meanwhile, Vamos and Servin are set to scorch today's free-market economy in their upcoming HBO documentary, "The Yes Men Fix The World," on July 27. Vamos says the comedy with a "political edge" will be unlike the group's latest venture to drum up support for positive climate change.
"It's not like the joke is over," he said. "But in a lot of ways, we're getting serious."