Scientist Strike for Climate

I saw a story about a professor at Indiana University who was arrested for joining Jane Fonda’s “Fire Drill Fridays” climate protests.

How about us? How many of us are scientists and (unlike me) physically able to march? I did once (a few years ago when I still could) but as far as I know, I was the only scientist there.

Why aren’t we? Why are James Hansen, this guy at Indiana U., and I the only scientists I can say with certainty have marched in the streets in a climate protest, or gone on strike, or done the things that make students and people who don’t read climate blogs see.

I’m sure many of you (maybe even most) might be thinking, “Of course I’ve marched — you just don’t know about it.” Well … I don’t know about it. Maybe it’s time for a lot of people know about it.

Who here is a scientist who is willing to go on strike every Friday? Who will sit in inclement weather holding a sign saying “Science Strike for Climate”?

You think one person holding a sign won’t accomplish anything? Tell it to Greta.


18 responses to “Scientist Strike for Climate

  1. There are protests ongoing, and there will be more. A big effort will be taking place around Earth Day (April 22). If you can, please participate.

  2. dual power – don’t just protest the world as it is, build the road you want to walk to the world you want to see. Greta does that to some extent by choosing to travel by low footprint means, even though it is inconvenient.

    If scientists (and other technocrats of one kind or another) choose to give a couple of hours on a couple of weekends per year to demonstrate against the various causes of climate change, it really means very little. It has to be done in conjunction with something real.

    [Response: You are wrong. Greta showed us all that just showing up and being heard will make a difference, but apparently you’re so married to the “dual power” idea that you will re-define the meanings of words before acknowledging that she’s getting the job done without it.

    You can promote lifestyle changes without insulting protesters. Or should I shut down this blog because it too “really means very little”.]

  3. I think what you do with this blog is more real than a boutique arrest where you might decide to travel to be arrested with Jane Fonda at a climate event.

    Protest is not enough. Boutique arrests are not enough. Couple those activities with a low carbon footprint lifestyle and you have my attention and respect. Uncouple an arrest or a climate march from a low carbon footprint and I think it is much ado about nothing. I wait to hear more about Marc Lame. In the linked article, it says that Prof Lame said he went to Washington to be arrested. Ok, that’s ok, but I have questions: were there no opportunities to be arrested for climate action civil disobedience in Indiana? How did Prof Lame travel to DC? What other steps has he taken in his life to address climate change?

    • I would prefer people protesting over a Boutique low carbon footprint lifestyle. Climate change is a collective action problem, do not let the ruling class make it into a personal problem. We will not solve it that way, it only has signalling value and a protest is more visible and has more signalling value.

      • @Victor Venema,

        Well, except that the wealthiest also are, overall, the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, whether in their heating, cooling, driving, size of homes, use of water, use of flying for work and pleasure, and, especially, their personal consumption of stuff. The standard Prof Kevin Anderson fact on this — which applies to the entire OECD, not just the weathiest — is that the wealthiest 10% in the world produce 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions. And the upper tail follows, with greater concentration among the wealthiest, especially if extended to the emissions they indirectly control and as well as directly control (e.g., two or more homes, staff, etc).

      • eq, yes–a fact that has been repeatedly used to hammer the credibility of Al Gore among others. Often rather unfairly and inaccurately, to be sure–denialati on average aren’t any more careful about their facts in this regard than in the realm of climate science per se–but still, there is a sting in the critique, precisely because of the point that you make.

      • I liked what Bob Loblaw had to say about the question on individual change and global warming: ” For every region that only contributes 2% to the problem, there are 49 other regions that also only contribute 2% to the problem. Everyone, everywhere, can isolate themselves into some portion of the globe that is only 2% of the problem. Divide it more finely? We’re only 1% of the problem. Even finer still? We’re only 0.1% of the problem. To the extreme “I’m just one person so it doesn’t matter what I do”.

        There is no better example of the “Tragedy of the Commons”.

      • Except???

        So how do you want to solve it? Are you at least one of those elite people who waste so much energy so that you lowering carbon footprint would do more than mine? I will never get mine to zero, only systemic change can do that. Only systemic change will also lower the emission of the elite.

        Go out and protest and work for systemic change.

  4. Greta, btw, is demonstrating dual power by protesting and traveling by means that are not convenient, but have the lowest carbon footprint that she can manage.

  5. I read and re-read this blog post and wonder why it triggers me so strongly and all I want to say about that is that it’s complicated.

    Upon reflection, I think it makes sense to ask you to delete my previous comments. I now think: Yes. Let’s protest and march and even get arrested. I will join you if I can.

    Keep up the good work with this blog. I think it is quite meaningful work that you are doing.

    [Response: You are right to emphasize lifestyle changes. It gives me an answer when I’m asked “What have you done personally?” And I know, it only makes a small difference, but it makes a difference. A lot of smalls can add up to very very large.

    I support those who protest, without finding the lifestyle changes that work for them. I support those whose lifestyle helps, even if they don’t protest. I urge everyone to do both.

    Who was that guy who said, “Whoever is not against us, is for us”?]

  6. We have scientists marching in the UK:
    And XR have had ‘ask a climate scientist’ events where said scientists are on the street at events so people can ask about things.
    Now of course if you don’t know about it, then perhaps that means it’s not as effective as you might like? These things only get reported if they are deemed newsworthy. There is an awful lot of marching and protesting going on that does not get reported, or certainly not beyond the local paper.

  7. Why are James Hansen, this guy at Indiana U., and I the only scientists I can say with certainty have marched in the streets in a climate protest, or gone on strike, or done the things that make students and people who don’t read climate blogs see.

    Because you are not on Twitter? ;-) You thus missed all the photos of Friday protests send around the world by scientists.

    For anyone who is on Twitter: I have made a Twitter feed for this blog:

    • Victor Venema

      I’m not present on any social media because I don’t like them all, but I say, even if I’m not at all the person responsible for this blog: Thank you for having done this.

  8. I think if you are looking for scientists who have spoken and acted for change on global warming, I would suggest recognizing folks like Stefan Rahmstorf, Kevin Anderson, Peter Wadhams, Guy McPherson, Shakhova, Mann, Schmidt, etc. They may have few arrests and little time spent marching in protests, but their work is the daily grind to educate folks about the risks of our global trajectory. It’s not all signs and arrests. Think about where your efforts are best placed in the struggle to change the way humans live on the planet.

    Minuchin and Trump both dismissed Greta and her demands recently. I think they speak for the deciders, in general, even if their rhetoric is too harsh. The 1%ers call the shots and they are remarkably resistant to accepting the demands that Greta makes as spokesperson for those of us who think the world is on fire.

    My own take on impact on the Deciders is that our actions have to impact them financially. That is the coin of the realm to the deciders. It’s all coin of the realm to these folks. My take on serious action is to withdraw from the global economic system to the greatest extent possible. As my partner and I have acted on that path in the past ten plus years, we have ended up as retired low income people with sufficient income and resources to live well and even offer support to our younger friends who still struggle to keep their heads above water in the economic world of the precariat. Take buy nothing friday after thanksgiving and try to extend that to an every day ethos and practice.

  9. Several old friends have revived public power initiatives for Olympia and Thurston County. I may be out hitting the pavement gathering signatures for those initiatives. We lost the last time we did this, but we got 40% on the vote despite being outspent wildly by the for-profit power opposition. If we could win with this action, we might establish a public power utility that would be able to advance green energy, conservation, etc. I would rather do the signature-gathering again for this event than to attend any protest marches. Protest marches are fine if you like that kind of stuff, holding signs in inclement weather etc. but I would like to live long enough to see a public utility established in Thurston County.

  10. Peter Kalmus is another who springs to mind. His twitter is @ClimateHuman