As we navigate daily life — for me it’s a steady stream of physics homework, college applications, and practice — our minds hop from priority to priority endlessly in an effort to stay afloat and ultimately reach an anxious-ridden state of mind. However, for environmentalists that know the truth of the matter, the possibility of minute worries regarding the planet appear overwhelming and feel heavy on our hearts. There never seems to be enough action in the form of public engagement and government laws. With that being said, there is only one option left for one of the most influential groups in the world — scientists — to do: risk their careers…right?
In 2020, the Scientist Rebellion was formed by Scottish Ph.D. students, taking after the mission of the Extinction Revolution as a sister organization. Two years later, the protests have gained significant traction across the globe as roughly 1,000 scientists affiliate themselves with the cause by conducting protests, signing the demand letter that has reached over 200 signatures, and wearing the infamous lab coat with the organization’s logo. Rose Abramoff and Peter Kalmus are two of the most popular protests, receiving a wealth of media coverage
Rose Abramoff is a climate and soil scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that is based in Knoxville, Tennessee. She traveled to Washington D.C. in early April 2022 to conduct not one, but two protests. D.C. was the perfect location: it is the capital of the United States, guaranteeing a significant amount of news coverage. Her first protest involved chaining herself to the fence of the White House building. Abramoff and six other scientists protested until their ultimate arrest (in which they were later released). Forty-eight hours later, they returned, with a much bigger group, to one of the busiest interstates in D.C., I-395, attempting to stall traffic in the name of a climate emergency.
Around the same time as Abramoff’s protests, NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus was staging a protest across the United States in Los Angeles, California. Similar to Abramoff, Kalmus chained himself to a JP Morgan Chase bank and was later arrested after multiple warnings. Kalmus and many scientists of the rebellion chose Chase Bank because it has made the biggest investment in fossil fuels compared to any other bank in the U.S. prior to his arrest, in an emotional appeal to anyone that would listen, he exclaimed that “The scientists of the world are being ignored. And it’s got to stop. We’re going to lose everything. And we’re not joking. We’re not lying. We’re not exaggerating.”
More often than not, members of the Scientist Rebellion are ordinary citizens that have had little to no runs with the law. For example, Abramoff has surely participated — as an individual, rather than an employee — in marches and has worked with nonprofit organizations to gather more awareness about the doom our planet is heading towards. Kalmus has also made many attempts over the course of his sixteen-year-long career to legally protest, yet he has ultimately stated that “none of it has worked.”
There is no doubt that climate change is worsening by the minute; and as citizens, all we can do is our part by making decisions that are environmentally conscious. However, any significant change must be made by national governments, and the scientists of the world have made every indication that they will not stop until a sustainable society for future generations to prosper in is premeditated. By risking the careers they have built from the ground up, they argue that we should not stop either. There are fewer pursuits more important than fighting for a healthy world to pursue them in.