A Global Wake-Up Call

Posted by CorinneRamey on Sep 21, 2009

At 12:18 p.m. today, thousands of mobile phone alarms went off all over the world.

"It creates a ringtone symphony, and people find each other," said Ben Wikler, spokesman for advocacy group Avaaz.org. "Then they simultaneously call government offices."

The alarms, and subsequent phone calls, were meant to draw attention to climate change legislation on the eve of the United Nations Climate Summit, held this week in New York City.  At each event, a flashmob of people all set their phone alarms for 12:18, held their phones above their heads when the alarms went off and then found the other participants.  Flash-mobbers then used their phones to take pictures, and called government offices. There were about 1500 flashmob events in 130 countries, said Wikler.

"It's a global climate wake-up call," said Wicker.  Although the event that Wikler attended, in New York's Union Square, had only about 30 attendees, an event in India had more than 1300.

Attendees registered on the Global Wake-Up Call website, where they were asked to submit their phone number.  Then Avaaz sent location information to each person via SMS.  The alarm time, 12:18, is a reference to Dec. 18, the last day of a climate change conference held in Copenhagen. 

"It seems like phone calls are still an effective way to tell governments that you care," Wikler said.

Photo:  A flashmob in Mexico, courtesy of Avaaz.org.

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