Climate change is happening now. It threatens our very existence. Thousands of species have already been sacrificed for our energy greed and millions more are at risk. Our president and congressional leaders deny anything is wrong and do nothing.
The movement started by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is forcing America to take notice. They shut down DC this morning, September 23rd, 2019, by blocking intersections. Using drain pipes and metal the protestors locked their arms to vehicles and a boat, forcing police to laboriously cut them free. For a time, the protest caused gridlock in DC and disrupted daily routines all over the city. The organizers promise more of the same for the next two days.
However, this movement faces a problem. As police arrest more people, their ranks thin. The protest is not sustainable. What other ways could be more effective?
Other than individual activism, the most prevalent shutdown technique is DDoS, Distributed Denial of Service. It is a cyber-attack that aims to bring down a website by overloading the servers with too many requests for web pages.
DDoS attacks do work, but they need a big network of zombie computers or bots to sustain the effort. Businesses like CloudFlare can detect and block a DDoS attack. Successful attacks usually require millions of page requests per minute. That means a network of thousands of bots. Often, a single DDoS assault spills over into the broader internet, disrupting service for many other sites.
Another alternative exists. Think of the systems and infrastructure that every business and government needs to operate. Both need electricity, water, sewer, internet, oh yes, and telephone.
Compared to the internet, telephone service is antiquated. Any phone line can be overwhelmed by incoming calls, even a multi-line branch exchange. Hanging up just lets the next call ring in. The only defense is to disconnect the phone. How many offices would be willing to do that?
So how can you mount such an attack? That’s easy, use an app. Ten thousand mobile phones calling every US representative and senator could shutdown DC more effectively than any physical protest. It also delivers the message, over and over and over again.
All it needs is someone with mobile app development skills and the will to help stop climate change. I know there must be hundreds of people with those qualifications. Maybe it’s you.
To help get you started, here’s a list of features I’d want.
- Request zip code at first launch and save
- Look up representative and senators and save
- Show list of numbers to call and allow editing to add/delete
- Click button to record a message
- Click button to begin automatic calling
- App calls each phone number on list, waits for answer, plays message, hangs up
- Sending the message to fax machines would also be awesome
You might recognize the core function of this app. It’s a robocaller. The difference is, this is totally legal. Each person who uses it is an individual just delivering a message to their elected representatives. That’s called free speech, yeah, first amendment.
This could be a game-changing tool for climate change activism. I would gladly use it on my phone. If enough other people installed it, maybe we could annoy Mitch McConnell, (202) 224-2541, and Roy Blunt, (202) 224-5721, enough to get some action.