“We are scientists, calling for a climate revolution.”
This is the motto of Scientist Rebellion, an organization developed within the framework of Extinction Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion is a nonviolent civil disobedience movement founded in 2018, geared toward three fundamental demands:
– The government must tell the truth about the climate and the broader ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies, and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens
– The government must take legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2025 and reduce consumption levels
– A national citizens’ assembly must be operationalized to oversee the changes as part of creating a democracy fit for the purpose
The movement organizes recurrent protests which are nonviolent but do not always remain within the scope of legality. These protests aim to make the headlines and pressure governments to act on the climate emergency.
Even though many academics and scientists have always supported the Extinction Rebellion movement from the start, few directly took part in their initiatives. This is mainly due to a sort of “extremist” labeling directed at those who participate.
Climate activism is too often confused with conspiracy theories’ fanaticism.
Extinction rebellion’s activities are somewhat radical, as they usually include illegal actions. However, the rationale for such a radicalism lies in the extreme nature of the challenge. The movement’s outcry is clear: there is less and less time to avoid extinction of the human race.
Even though participating directly in civil disobedience manifestations is certainly not convenient for their careers, scientists are starting to engage in them. Scientist rebellion is precisely this, a platform from extinction rebellion that exposes scientists who believe so firmly in the movement’s ideals to participate personally in civil disobedience.
“Climate change is here, and it is causing deaths of tens of millions of people. We, the scientists, are very worried and don’t know what other language we have to express ourselves in. This is the reason for this rebellion, carried out by scientists in 25 countries all over the world. Climate science is not being heard, or at least not being converted into action.”
Fernando Valladares, a climate scientist with the Spanish National Research Council.
Scientist Rebellion was founded last September after two physicists threw green paint over the royal society in London (the oldest scientific institution in the world), calling on other scientists to take part in civil disobedience.
Scientist Rebellion considers its relation with Extinction Rebellion to be complementary as it will be structured on the same values and ideals of its mother organization. It is a decentralized and horizontal movement, aiming at facilitating the number and the radius of actions. Moreover, it is a movement that recognizes the right to act of each activist and, therefore, does not prevent any kind of action, provided it is nonviolent.
Related Articles: Extinction Rebellion Protests Supporting Climate Bill Spark ‘Free Speech’ Controversy |
The three pillars on which the movement is founded provide new shades of debate with respect to its mother organization:
– Practice economic degrowth in the short term to achieve decarbonization goals; this does not necessarily require a reduction in living standards;
– For a just transition, the cost of degrowth must be paid for by the wealthiest, who have benefited enormously from the current destructive world order, while others have faced the consequences;
– A just transition to a sustainable system requires the wealth from the 1% to be used for the common good.
Scientist protests: Worldwide and in response to the latest IPCC report
Last Wednesday, more than 1000 scientists engaged in coordinated protests worldwide to draw attention to the climate crisis. This collection of manifestations is intended as a response to the publication of the latest IPCC report, which urges governments to take decarbonization policies on track or the containment of global warming to 1.5°C for the century’s end will not be met.
This would imply catastrophic consequences for the entire human race, ultimately threatening its own existence. The protests occurred in multiple centers worldwide and mainly targeted symbols of political power or headquarters of firms that are not contributing enough to fight climate change.
Here is an account of some of them:
– US climate scientist Peter Kalmus chained himself (along with several others) to the front entrance of a JP Morgan Chase building in Los Angeles; the company is among the top financiers of fossil fuels extraction and use;
– In Madrid, demonstrators assembled in front of the parliament’s entrance and threw red paint on doors and steps to symbolize the blood of all those who died because of climate change;
– Protesters in Berlin glued themselves to the ground, blocking access to a bridge leading to the German parliament;
– Other activists, including scientist Rose Abramoff, chained themselves to the white house fence requesting president Biden to declare a state of emergency due to the climate threat.
Perhaps, the activist who better explained why scientists feel the need to take part in environmental action is Peter Kalmus, the organizer of the JP Morgan demonstration in Los Angeles.
In a piece written for the Guardian, he lists the series of increasing efforts he sustained for over ten years, including reducing personal emissions, collaborating with organizations that defend the climate or devising products to stimulate the public in such a fight, like the popular climate app “Earth Hero.”
None of these actions has worked, and Kalmus is now terrified for his children’s future. Desperation calls for extreme measures, and that is maybe the way activism on climate change is so frequently misjudged. From Kalmus’s perspective as a scientist, chaining to the JP Morgan building is one of the few actions left to save his children’s future.
And who wouldn’t do anything in his power to protect his children?
Perhaps one could say that if everyone saw the climate threat as scientists do and can, they would join the rebellion too, and this is precisely what Scientist Rebellion is aiming for:
Martin Luther King Jr said, “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Out of necessity, and after exhaustive efforts, I’ve joined the ranks of those who selflessly risk their freedom and put their bodies on the line for the Earth, despite ridicule from the ignorant and punishment from a colonizing legal system designed to protect the planet-killing interests of the rich. It’s time we all join them. The feeling of solidarity is a wonderful balm.
Peter Kalmus, US climate scientist
The feeling of solidarity is indeed a “wonderful balm” and hopefully it’s a balm that will work also on our political and business leaders, inciting them to stop and listen to their scientific advisers and start acting on the advice, changing our business model and the way our society is organized: Divorce from fossil fuel dependence is urgently needed.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: Scientists from Scientist Rebellion glue climate science essays to Berlin’s Federal Ministry of Transport 08.04.22. Featured Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.