Scientists urge non-violent civil disobedience against climate catastrophe

Scientist Rebellion protest outside JP Morgan Chase last year. Photo from video/Scientist Rebellion Facebook video

Scientist Rebellion Australia launched a new campaign on January 19 outside an ANZ Bank in Richmond. ANZ, a major lender to fossil fuel corporations, is a sponsor of the Australian Tennis Open 2023.

An open letter, “We are not safe”, urged people to engage in non-violent civil disobedience to expose the severity of climate change.

The protest was part of a series of actions by Extinction Rebellion in Melbourne to protest sports sponsorship greenwashing.

Scientist Rebellion is a climate action group with more than 1000 members across 32 countries.

“Our members are science students to senior lecturers across a wide range of scientific backgrounds. We all believe scientists must take non-violent direct action to gain credibility with the public. During acts of civil resistance we identify ourselves wearing lab coats.

“Governments have failed to warn us about climate failure,” the group said.

“Mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles numbers have been dropping at alarming rates: 68% since 1970, along with an apparent collapse in the pollinator populations.

“In Australia, more than 10% of the 320 land mammals recognised in 1788 are now extinct ... Hotter climates activate feedback loops which cause additional heating (e.g., increased forest fires, thawing permafrost, melting ice) threatening to irreversibly drive the Earth to a hotter uninhabitable state,” the open letter said.

“These effects are being observed decades earlier than predicted in line with the worst-case scenarios forecasted.

“Increasingly severe heat waves, droughts and natural disasters are occurring year after year, not once every century or decade. Sea levels may rise by several metres this century, displacing hundreds of millions of people living in coastal areas.”

The scientists say there is a growing fear that “simultaneous extreme weather events in major agricultural areas could cause global food shortages and trigger societal collapse”. They say they are not only alarmed “at the extent of the problem”, they are alarmed at “how little is currently being done to address it”.

“Growth and profits are increasing at the same rate as the environmental destruction is worsening. We have to decarbonise now and those who are causing the damage must pay for measures to justly transition to a sustainable future for all.”

Australia is at the forefront of climate breakdown, the scientists say, urging the United Nations recommendations be acted on.

Just like Greta Thunberg took action in Lutzerath, Germany, the group is calling on academics, scientists and the public to “join us in civil disobedience to demand the urgent decarbonisation of our economy” and to protect the living world.

“The wealthy few need to be stopped from preventing us living sustainably and justly on this planet,” they concluded.