After the publication of the latest IPCC report that calculated a remaining 3 years to cut down on greenhouse gasses, the world has taken to the streets up in arms. In the beginning of April, over 1,200 scientists in more than 25 countries attended and organized non-violent environmental protests.
In Washington, D.C, members of the Scientist Rebellion chained themselves to the White House fence and scientists staged demonstrations at several embassies in Panama. In Berlin, Germany, they glued their hands to a bridge to form a roadblock and protesters, in alliance with the Extinction Rebellion, poured fake blood on the Spanish parliament in Madrid.
On April 6th, in Los Angeles, four scientists chained themselves to the front door of a JPMorgan Chase Bank, the world’s worst ‘fossil bank’ which contributed $51.3 billion in fossil fuel financing last year alone. Among those scientists was Peter Kalmus, who studies biological systems and climate change at NASA and had gone viral for delivering a tearful speech before his arrest.
“We’ve been trying to warn you guys for so many decades that we’re heading towards a fucking catastrophe[…] The scientists of the world have been being ignored and it’s got to stop. We’re going to lose everything. We’re not joking. We’re not lying. We’re not exaggerating.”
The four men and their supporters continued their protest despite police intervention. According to Kalmus’ Twitter account, “the LAPD responded with over 100 cops in riot gear” which can be seen in the video he posted alongside his tweet. An officer with a megaphone can be heard announcing to the crowd: “I hereby declare this to be an unlawful assembly and in the name of the people of the state of California demand all those assembled to immediately disperse […] if you do not do so, you may be arrested or subject to other police action. Other police action may include the use of less-lethal munitions which can cause significant injury to those who remain.” While most protestors left after this, Kalmus and his colleagues remained until they were forcibly removed and carried off in a police van.
Kalmus can also be seen wearing a white lab coat that carries the Scientist Rebellion logo. According to their website, they are “activists from a variety of scientific backgrounds, calling on our communities to stand in resistance to the genocidal direction of our governments, before it’s too late”. The Scientist Rebellion’s emphasis is that “when scientists rebel it is powerful because it inspires others to rise up. By bringing scientist and activist communities together, both are empowered.”
In addition to being very active within the organization, Kalmus also contributes to writing many published works about climate change. One of his most recent writings was an article written for The Guardian three months ago. He draws comparisons between our reality and a recently popular film called Don’t Look Up which is about a meteor hurtling towards the Earth while no one does anything to stop it. In fact, the government actively tries to hide it from the public and capitalize off of it. He comments that the movie “is satire. But speaking as a climate scientist doing everything I can to wake people up and avoid planetary destruction, it’s also the most accurate film about society’s terrifying non-response to climate breakdown I’ve seen.”
“I’m willing to take a risk for this gorgeous planet… for my sons […] It’s time for all of us to stand up and take risks,” Kalmus stated during his speech. He expressed the fact that we are, and have been for a long time, witnessing the effects of climate change as “we’ve seen people drowning, we’ve seen famine starting to pop up, [and] we’ve seen wildfires getting worse. It’s going to literally take us to the brink of civilizational collapse.”