Chaining themselves to the White House fences, supergluing their hands to a government building, throwing fake blood on Spanish Parliament steps- climate activists around the world are growing restless and resolving to more extreme forms of protest. Why? The government refuses to listen to climate scientist’s warnings about global warming.
Burning fossil fuels are a major cause of climate change, as it produces greenhouse gasses and toxic pollutants. According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, the impacts of fossil fuels include ocean acidification, sea level rise, extreme weather, plastic pollution, and health issues including cancer.
Although this may be our first time hearing about these horrifying consequences, climate scientists have been warning us about them for decades. In 1965, climate scientists warned the U.S. president about global warming in a climate report titled “Restoring the Quality of our Environment.” The report also discussed the unfortunate increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, and evidence that proved that it was a direct effect of pollution caused by humans. In 1974, one of the authors created a climate model that predicted global surface temperature changes caused by both carbon and natural cycles, as well as carbon emissions alone. Aside from some inaccuracies, the model as a whole turned out to be startlingly accurate in its predictions.
While the future may seem bleak, there may still be a way to save our planet. To prevent these catastrophes from worsening, climate scientists have told us that we must limit global warming to 1.5 C°. But the government doesn’t seem to be taking any substantial action.
According to a 2021 report by the U.N., the governments of most major fossil fuel producers are planning to produce 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than the amount that could limit global warming to 1.5 C°, and 45% more than levels that would limit global warming to 2 C°. If our planet warms 1.5 C°, humanity will be met with droughts, heat waves, cyclones, and more. The conditions would worsen at 2 C°. A 2022 report by the IPCC warned that we must take action by 2025. Otherwise, the implications are disastrous.
It’s no surprise that scientists and climate activists are getting more and more desperate to warn the public and convince the government to take action. NASA scientist, Peter Kalmus was reduced to tears during a climate change protest where he, along with three other protestors, chained himself to an office building of JP Morgan Chase Bank, the biggest banker of fossil fuels.
“We’ve been trying to warn you guys for so many decades that we’re heading towards a [...] catastrophe, and we’ve been being ignored,” Kalmus told Insider magazine.
This protest was one of many that week organized by Scientist Rebellion, a group of climate activists, in response to the recently released IPCC report. Although there are members of Scientist Rebellion who aren't scientists, the group mainly consists of individuals with a natural or social science background. However, they expect that two thirds of the protestors be scientists. Scientist Rebellion believes that the more scientists partake in activism, the more credible their civil disobedience is. "When scientists rebel it is powerful because it inspires others to rise up," they wrote on their website. "By bringing scientist and activist communities together, both are empowered."
Regrettably, the activists were arrested. This isn’t the only time climate activists and scientists have been arrested, and it isn’t going to be the last. Once again, the government decided to continue ignoring the voices of climate experts instead of taking action to reduce fossil fuel production. By doing so, the government is only accelerating the destruction of the planet we live on.