Nearly, 400 scientists have endorsed a civil disobedience campaign aimed at forcing governments to take rapid action to tackle climate change, warning that failure could inflict “incalculable human suffering.”
In a joint declaration, climate scientists, physicists, biologists, engineers and others from at least 20 countries broke with the caution traditionally associated with academia to side with peaceful protesters courting arrest from Amsterdam to Melbourne.
Wearing white laboratory coats to symbolize their research credentials, a group of about 20 of the signatories gathered to read out the text outside London’s century-old Science Museum in the city’s upmarket Kensington district.
“We believe that the continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and non-violent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law,” said Emily Grossman, a science broadcaster with a PhD in molecular biology, who read the declaration on behalf of the group.
“We therefore support those who are rising up peacefully against governments around the world that are failing to act proportionately to the scale of the crisis,” she said.
The declaration was coordinated by a group of scientists who support Extinction Rebellion, a civil disobedience campaign that formed in Britain a year ago and has since sparked offshoots in dozens of countries.
The group launched a fresh wave of international actions on Monday, aiming to get governments to address an ecological crisis caused by climate change and accelerating extinctions of plant and animal species.
While many scientists have tended to shun overt political debate, preferring to confine their public pronouncements within the parameters of their research, the academics backing Extinction Rebellion say they feel compelled to speak out.
Other signatories included several scientists who contributed to the U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has produced a series of reports underscoring the urgency of dramatic cuts in carbon emissions.
Extinction Rebellion is aligned with a school strike movement inspired by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg, which mobilized millions of young people on Sept. 20. It hopes the scientists’ support for the urgency of its message and its embrace of civil disobedience will bolster its legitimacy and draw more volunteers.
The group said more than half the signatories of the declaration are experts in the fields of climate science and the loss of wildlife. Although British universities and institutes were well represented, signatories also worked in countries including the United States, Australia, Spain and France.