What grief for a dying planet looks like: Climate scientists on the edge

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Environmental engineer Wolfgang Metzeler-Kick, centre, and energy engineer Richard Cluse, right, began a hunger strike in March in Berlin, Germany, under the motto “starving until you are honest” in a protest organised by Scientist Rebellion. The protesters seek acknowledgement from the German chancellor of the severity of the climate crisis [Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

Desperate climate scientists embrace civil disobedience and specialised therapy to deal with their growing anxiety over global warming.

“I was scared as hell. … I remember feeling very nervous.”

On April 6, 2022, Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, got a ride into downtown Los Angeles, where he was about to handcuff himself to the door of a JPMorgan Chase bank alongside three fellow scientists.

“There was a moment,” he says of the decision to engage in civil disobedience when he “realised that I just had to do it, to find that courage”.

He was joining more than 1,000 activists taking to the streets in nearly 30 countries across the globe under the slogan “1.5C is dead, climate revolution now!” – a campaign led by Scientist Rebellion, an activist group of scientists, academics and students committed to disruptive, nonviolent action to raise alarm over the global climate emergency.

“I was really scared,” Kalmus reiterates over a call, about how his colleagues, the police and, especially, his employer would respond. “I thought there was a very good chance that I’d get fired, which was probably my biggest concern.”

But by that point, he had exhausted all other avenues. For Kalmus, civil disobedience came as a culmination of decades of attempts to raise awareness of the climate emergency by other means. With what he sees as half the country being in denial of the urgency of the climate crisis, Kalmus says he didn’t know what else to do; this was the next logical step and one he admits has been the most effective.

Joining a global day of action in 2022 to ban private jets, Peter Kalmus and local activists chain the doors of a private airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, to underscore the disproportionately high impact the wealthy have in terms of carbon emissions [Courtesy of Will Dickson]

During a speech he delivered that day, which has gone viral around the world, Kalmus is visibly emotional, breaking down in tears as he tells the onlookers: “So I’m here because scientists are not being listened to. I’m willing to take a risk for this gorgeous planet – for my sons,” he gasps as he tries to control the tremor in his voice. “I’ve been trying to warn you for so many decades, and now we’re heading towards a f****** catastrophe.”

After a standoff with police and an eight-hour stint in jail, Kalmus was charged with misdemeanour trespassing, but the charges were later dropped. That first arrest felt exhilarating and freeing, he says, but the incident led to a months-long investigation by NASA’s ethics and human resources departments, and the resulting stress caused Kalmus’s diverticular disease to flare up. While he was stuck in a holding pattern awaiting the outcome of the inquiry, which ended in his favour (Kalmus is still employed by NASA and spoke to Al Jazeera in a private capacity), Kalmus felt like the institution was making a mistake by not supporting his activism “since climate activists are clearly on the right side of history”, he says.

Article continues at https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2024/6/16/what-grief-for-a-dying-planet-looks-like-climate-scientists-on-the-edge-2

Continue ReadingWhat grief for a dying planet looks like: Climate scientists on the edge

‘Financing the Arsonists’: Scientists Arrested During Citigroup Climate Protest

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Original article by EDWARD CARVER republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Police arrest a climate protester at Citigroup’s headquarters in New York City on June 12, 2024. (Photo: Bank On Our Future/X)

“I invite you to join us, at any level of risk tolerance,” said one participant in the New York demonstration. “It feels deeply meaningful—even joyful—to be a part of this movement and to stand on the right side of history.”

Police arrested 28 people, including several scientists, protesting outside Citigroup’s headquarters in New York City on Wednesday as climate campaigners continued a series of actions targeting the bank for financing oil and gas projects.

Dozens of scientists and allies, some wearing white lab coats, marched to the bank’s entrances holding signs and banners with messages like “The Science Is Clear,” as they condemned Citigroup for financing nearly $400 billion in fossil fuel extraction in the eight years after the 2015 Paris agreement was signed.

Several scientists gave speeches before or as they were being arrested.

“I have studied climate change since 1982,” Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and retired scholar in residence at Ithaca College, said in a speech outside the Wall Street giant’s entrances. “I’ve testified. I’ve sent letters to the White House. I’ve met with the science advisor. I went to the Paris Climate talks. But carbon dioxide levels just reached a new high, and Citi here is financing the arsonists.”

Police arrested Steingraber, who, as she was being taken away in handcuffs, declared: “I’m not interested in writing eulogies for the species that I study!”

The scientists’ protest was part of a series of climate actions undertaken as part of the Summer of Heat, a program organized by Climate Defenders, Climate Organizing Hub, New York Communities for Change, Planet Over Profit, and Stop The Money Pipeline (STMP).

A total of 28 people were arrested Wednesday, including several scientists, Alec Connon, STMP co-director, told Common Dreams. Dozens of campaigners were also arrested at Citigroup’s headquarters on both Monday, in a highly-attended kickoff to the summer activism series, and Tuesday, in an orca-themed follow-up.d

During Wednesday’s protest, the scientists delivered a joint letter, published Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists and addressed to Citigroup’s leadership, urging the bank to stop financing fossil fuel projects scientists delivered a letter addressed to Citigroup’s leadership urging the bank to stop financing fossil fuel projects.

Activist pressure on major banks has risen in recent years following revelations—notably in the annual Banking on Climate Chaos report, published by nonprofit groups—about the key role they’ve played in funding oil, gas, and coal projects. The most recent report found that the world’s 60 largest banks had provided $6.9 trillion in funding to the fossil fuel industry in the eight years after the Paris Agreement.

The pressure has had an effect on some banks: HSBC and, more recently, Barclays have declared that they would stop financing new oil and gas projects. However, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has reported that HSBC remains involved in fossil fuel deals.

Bank loans to fossil fuel companies are used not just to continue extraction at existing sites but also to explore and develop new reserves, even though the International Energy Agency has said there can be no more such development if climate goals are to be met. Citigroup has funded more new extraction than any bank in the world, the Banking on Climate Chaos report found.

Yet in response to Monday’s action, Citigroup claimed it was part of the transition to a green economy.

“Citi respects the advocacy of climate activists, and we are supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy through our net zero commitments and our $1 trillion sustainable finance goal,” a bank spokesperson said a statement, according to media outlets. “Our approach reflects the need to transition while also continuing to meet global energy needs.”

The statement did not win over climate activists. “This is the sort of bald-faced corporate lie that could cost us our planet,” Peter Kalmus, a NASA climate scientist, wrote in a Newsweek op-ed published Wednesday.

Kalmus attended Wednesday’s protest. Standing outside Citigroup’s headquarters, he said, “We’ve written thousands and thousands of papers and they have not listened to us. They’re fools. They’re stupid. They’re being unwise. They have to start listening to scientists.”

Summer of Heat organizers have events planned throughout the summer. In the op-ed, Kalmus reached out to readers to join the effort.

“I invite you to join us, at any level of risk tolerance,” he wrote. “In my experience, and in the experience of many other climate activists I know, civil disobedience has been a very effective way to create social change. And a big change is happening: A transition from a profit-above-life, colonial-extractivist, genocidal mindset, to a loving, sharing, interconnected mindset. It feels deeply meaningful—even joyful—to be a part of this movement and to stand on the right side of history.”

Original article by EDWARD CARVER republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue Reading‘Financing the Arsonists’: Scientists Arrested During Citigroup Climate Protest

Top Climate Scientists to Biden: ‘Follow the Science, Stop Fossil Fuels’

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Original article by Andrea Germanos republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Note that the original article was published 7 April, 2022.

U.S. climate scientist Peter Kalmus is seen outside a JPMorgan Chase building in Los Angeles on April 6, 2022. Along with several others, he locked himself to the front door of the building and was ultimately arrested as they engaged in civil disobedience as part Scientist Rebellion’s week of action. (Photo: Scientist Rebellion)

The letter to President Joe Biden came amid a week of “scientist-led civil disobedience” demanding urgent climate action.

In a powerful direct appeal to President Joe Biden urging him to follow through on his vow to listen to science, a group of over 275 scientists on Thursday called on the U.S. leader to urgently ditch fossil fuels and lead the country to a renewable energy transition.

Written “in this moment of climate emergency… with utmost urgency,” the letter to Biden was coordinated by the advocacy group Food & Water Watch along with noted U.S. climate experts including Peter Kalmus, Sandra Steingraber, Robert Howarth, Mark Jacobson, and Michael Mann.

As Common Dreams previously reported, the scientists leading the effort unveiled the letter last month, seeking a critical mass of signatures to push back against the administration’s move to further oil and gas production as nations look to reduce their dependence on Russian fuels in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

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The letter–bluntly declaring “Follow the Science, Stop Fossil Fuels”–was officially sent to the White House Thursday, landing amid a week of “scientist-led civil disobedience” featuring strikes and occupations in dozens of countries to highlight the urgency of the ecological and climate crisis.

In their letter to Biden, the expert group cites the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released in February cataloging the “unfolding climate catastrophe” as evidence of the need for swift action. Millions worldwide, including within the U.S., are already facing climate impacts, the IPCC report notes, including water scarcity and extreme weather events.

“These problems will only accelerate as we continue our reliance on fossil fuels,” the scientists wrote. “And, this is on top of the significant health and environmental justice impacts that power plants, export facilities, and other fossil fuel infrastructure have on neighboring communities.”

“As the IPCC report indicated, the scientific evidence is overwhelming that we must act now,” they wrote, “we simply do not have time to waste.”

Firmly rejecting Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s framing of the U.S. being “on war footing” in pushing for more domestic fossil fuel production, the scientists told Biden that such urgency must instead be directed at “building a renewable energy economy” and that he must exercise his “executive authority to redirect these massive investments, mobilize the country, and rally the global community around a program of energy security through a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”

“We urge you to lead boldly, take on the fossil fuel titans, and rally the country towards a renewable energy future,” the scientists wrote.

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Lead signatory and climate scientist Kalmus was among those taking part in Scientist Rebellion direct actions on Wednesday; he was ultimately arrested after locking himself to the front door of a JPMorgan Chase building in Los Angeles.

He was driven by what he sees as “humanity heading directly toward climate disaster” and “currently on track to lose everything we love.”

In an op-ed published at The Guardian Wednesday explaining why he was willing to risk arrest, Kalmus wrote, “If everyone could see what I see coming, society would switch into climate emergency mode and end fossil fuels in just a few years.”

Original article by Andrea Germanos republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Note that the original article was published 7 April, 2022.

Continue ReadingTop Climate Scientists to Biden: ‘Follow the Science, Stop Fossil Fuels’

‘Time to Do It for Real,’ Advocates Say as Biden Claims He’s ‘Practically’ Declared Climate Emergency

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Original article by Julia Conley republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

“There’s nothing more important than what happens today,” said one environmental lawyer. “And there’s no person in the world with more power to do good than Joe Biden.”

In an interview with The Weather Channel Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden signaled he has no plans to formally declare a climate emergency, claiming that his climate policies are sufficient and that, “practically speaking,” a national emergency has already been declared.

When asked if he will take the unprecedented step in order to unlock executive powers to drastically cut fossil fuel emissions, Biden told correspondent Stephanie Abrams, “I’ve already done that.”

The president pointed to $368 billion that was included in the Inflation Reduction Act to invest in clean energy production, actions being taken to conserve land, and his decision to rejoin the Paris climate agreement as evidence that he is taking all the steps that experts have said are necessary to fight the climate crisis.

“We’re moving,” Biden said.

The interview aired days after a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the status of Biden’s reported climate emergency deliberations, noting that NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus recently wrote in an op-ed that not declaring an emergency is “anti-science.”

Jean-Pierre did not directly address the question but defended Biden’s record, saying he “believes in science” and “talks about climate change.”

“And, you know, it is such a difference to what we see from Republicans who don’t even acknowledge climate change,” she added. “We’re going to continue to move forward to do everything that we can not just here in America, but globally, to be a leader in fighting climate change.”

Kalmus called Jean-Pierre’s response “barely coherent” and demanded to know why the White House won’t declare a climate emergency.

“It’s not enough for Biden to ‘practically’ declare a climate emergency,” said the Institute for Policy Studies on Wednesday after Biden’s interview aired. “It’s time to officially announce one.”

Last summer, Biden reportedly began considering declaring a climate emergency as extreme heat overtook much of the country.

As numerous climate action groups have outlined, a climate emergency declaration would be far from a symbolic gesture. The action, taken under the National Emergencies Act, would allow the White House to:

  • Reinstate the federal ban on crude oil exports—lifted by Congress in 2015—which could slash fossil fuel emissions by as much as 165 million metric tons per year;
  • End oil and gas drilling in more than 11 million acres of federal waters;
  • Halt the investment of hundreds of billions of dollars in fossil fuel projects abroad; and
  • Unlock federal funds that could be used to construct renewable energy infrastructure in communities that are especially vulnerable to climate disasters.

Biden’s comments came weeks after scientists said last month was the hottest month on record, with millions of people from Asia to Western Europe and the United States facing temperatures close to 130°F. The World Weather Attribution said in late July that the extreme heat would have been “virtually impossible” without the climate crisis and continued emissions of heat-trapping gases by the fossil fuel industry.

“As we suffer through these fossil fuel heatwaves, megafires, and floods, [Biden]’s leaving immense powers on the shelf for combating the crisis,” Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute of the Center for Biological Diversity, told Common Dreams. “But now is the time for him to actually declare a climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act.”

Siegel added that by dismissing direct questions about an official climate emergency declaration, the White House appears to be employing “the oldest strategy in the book,” long used by administrations that have denied the climate crisis and the need to shift the renewable energy.

“The unfortunate reality is that doing some good things is simply not enough, because we are in a physical climate emergency,” Siegel said. “It is a question of survival and every day counts. There’s nothing more important than what happens today… And there’s no person in the world with more power to do good than Joe Biden.”

While the president has taken some steps to undo harm done to communities by extractive industries—announcing protections from uranium mining for one million acres near the Grand Canyon on Tuesday and launching a $20 billion initiative to invest private capital into clean technology projects last month—he also infuriated climate advocates and experts earlier this year when he approved the Willow drilling project in Alaska. The project could produce more than 600 million barrels of crude oil over three decades and lead to roughly 280 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

The White House also drew criticism last month for its announcement of new regulations for fossil fuel leasing, despite Biden’s campaign promise to ban oil and gas leases on federal lands.

“The truth is, the Biden administration has devastated communities and wildlife by backing disastrous fossil fuel projects from Alaska to Appalachia,” Siegel told Common Dreams. “And what he does today is going to make a huge difference for how much devastation comes in the future.”

Siegel added that with the United Nations set to convene a Climate Ambition Summit on September 20 in New York, “there has never been a better time for Biden to actually declare a climate emergency.”

At the summit, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres aims to “accelerate action by governments, business, finance, local authorities, and civil society.”

The People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition, comprised of more than 1,200 advocacy groups, said it plans to mobilize ahead of the summit for a March to End Fossil Fuels in New York, aiming to “push President Biden to make a climate emergency declaration official and stop approving these deadly fossil fuel projects once and for all.”

“Now that President Biden says he’s ‘practically’ declared a climate emergency, it’s time to do it for real,” said the coalition. “The president should follow through on his rhetoric and immediately declare a national emergency that would unlock new executive powers to speed up the deployment of clean energy and halt fossil fuel expansion.”

Original article by Julia Conley republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue Reading‘Time to Do It for Real,’ Advocates Say as Biden Claims He’s ‘Practically’ Declared Climate Emergency

Climate protest news 16 April 2022 / 1

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Over 1,000 scientists from around the world take to the streets in week-long climate protests

Hundreds of scientists from around the world took part in protests last week to apply pressure on government agencies to make “rapid and deep” cuts to greenhouse gas emissions before it’s too late.  

In Los Angeles, NASA scientist Peter Kalmus and three other people were arrested on Wednesday after they chained themselves to the front door of a Chase Bank building in protest of the company’s investment in fossil fuels.  

“We’ve been trying to warn you guys for so many decades that we’re heading towards a f—— catastrophe, and we’ve been being ignored,” said Kalmus, Business Insider reported. “The scientists of the world are being ignored, and it’s got to stop. We’re not joking. We’re not lying. We’re not exaggerating.” 

Kalmus and his fellow protesters were met with 100 LAPD officers in riot gear and arrested, according to Salon.  

The protests were part of a week of civil disobedience organized by Scientist Rebellion, the scientific branch of the climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion.  

More than 1,000 scientists from over 25 countries took part in the protests to highlight the findings from a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report stating humanity only has three more years to cut greenhouse gas emissions. 

Extinction Rebellion: Olympian joins activists in oil tanker protest

Climate change activists including an Olympic gold medal-winning canoeist have climbed on top of an oil tanker in a protest against the use of fossil fuels.

Extinction Rebellion protesters have surrounded the Shell tanker on Bayswater Road in London.

Olympian Etienne Stott said he wanted to “disrupt the toxic fossil fuel industry”.

Climate change protesters block central Paris square to protest election choices

PARIS, April 16 (Reuters) – Climate change activists forced the closure of a main square in central Paris on Saturday to protest against the environmental programmes put forward by France’s remaining presidential candidates.

“We are blocking this Paris square to rebel against alternatives that we don’t have. This election leaves us with no choice between a far-right candidate with repugnant ideas … and a candidate who during five years cast the ecology issue aside and lied,” Lou, 26, a history teacher, who joined the Extinction Rebellion movement two years ago told Reuters.

Hundreds of people gathered in Paris’ 9th district brandishing banners targeting the candidates, chanting slogans such as “their inaction leads to our rebellion”, or lay on the floor in protest.

Continue ReadingClimate protest news 16 April 2022 / 1