Science and Technology: Climate Change Scientists Risk Arrest to Protest


Image courtesy of Scientist Rebellion/Facebook

By Margaret Adams

In an effort of civil disobedience, multiple scientists that work in studying climate change chained themselves to the JP Morgan building in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The event was part of a worldwide protest of climate change scientists in response to a report by the United Nations. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) rang many alarms in their recent report–the document stated that the current climate change situation is not only contributing to the multiple natural disasters recently but has also been contributing to the displacement of people by jeopardizing food and water supplies. The UN Secretary-General stated that unless governments everywhere reassess their energy policies, the world will be uninhabitable.

“This is not fiction or exaggeration,” said the UN Secretary-General. “It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree (Celsius, or 2.7-degrees Fahrenheit) limit.”

The report put a spotlight on large corporations and their contribution to the climate crisis; in response, NASA scientist Peter Kalmus, physicist Greg Spooner, engineer Eric Gill, and wildlife educator Allan Chornak handcuffed themselves to the JP Morgan building in downtown Los Angeles to protest the company’s funding of fossil fuel projects. The group of men belongs to a global organization called Scientist Rebellion

“Our goal is to create a truly global and radical scientific movement, that gives much-needed credibility to the wider climate movement,” states the Scientist Rebellion website. “There is a lingering public perception that activists are extremists who are exaggerating the problem and overreacting by breaking the rules. This perception is often aided by portrayals in the press. Dismissing activists in this way slows action on the climate and ecological crisis at a time when it is crucial that we speed up. Scientists becoming more involved in activism, particularly when it involves arrestable offenses, increases the credibility of civil disobedience.”

The four men who were handcuffed were met by over a hundred police officers and were eventually arrested. A video of Kalmus has gone viral since his protest, as he makes an emotional plea for people to pay attention: “We’ve been warning you for so many decades.” 

These men were not the only scientists to be arrested last week during protests–more than 1,200 scientists in 26 countries demonstrated last week, and many were arrested. 

Many researchers chained themselves to the gates of the White House, and multiple researchers were arrested for throwing fake blood at the Congress of Deputies building in Madrid, Spain. 

“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations, and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”

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