Unclear Air: Taggers vs. SUVs

There are people who find daily life unbearable without a cell phone stuck on one end and an SUV on the other. Now some Austinites want to stick it to them -- or at least to their SUVs.

They are the local chapter of a group called Changing the Climate. It's the sort of ad hoc group that involves a Web site, a chat room, screen names like "klown," "austinchange," and "ziz," and people armed with three-for-a-buck bumper stickers that read: "I'm Changing the Climate. Ask Me How!" The stickers are meant to be "tagged" to unsuspecting SUVs to make people stop and think about pollution.

Somebody named "klown" announced the founding of the group's Austin chapter a while back, filling his online announcement with high-sounding principles about little acts of environmental activism. Changing the Climate describes its "mission" this way: "This campaign is designed to tell the world what we think of those mindless suburban drones that insist on getting 8 mpg while driving their kids to soccer practice. Join us as we direct our social-activist energies toward the exciting new sport of Big Game SUV Hunting." The group claims it wants to use "ridicule and social embarrassment to change the habits of the American consumer."

Many SUV drivers feel something a little harsher than embarrassment. A few of the online responses to the Austin chapter make that clear: "Sounds like a lot of hippie crap to me ... beware, you deface my truck, and I'll rip yours off." (Face or truck? Unclear.) "It's people like you that make me glad I own firearms with my Tahoe ... a couple of bumper stickers might persuade me to upgrade to a Suburban." "Avoid this truck if you value your life" (with a picture of a Jeep SUV offered as bait).

If they haven't yet suffered vehicular retribution, klown, his friends, and their bumperstickers can be found at www.changingtheclimate.com. Other sites for those who loathe SUVs include: www.earthonempty.com and www.stopsuvs.org.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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