On Thursday, a post-doctoral astrophysics researcher, Tim Hewlett, and a theoretical physicist turned climate activist, Mike Lynch-White, threw green paint and delivered a letter at the doors of the prestigious Royal Society in London.
Their group Scientist Rebellion are calling on scientists to engage in civil disobedience and non-violent direct action to demonstrate the legitimacy of current scientific predictions and the urgency with which people need to rise up against the industries and governments who are not responding to protect us.
They want fellow scientists to act as if the truth is real, taking action commensurate with the catastrophic effects they predict will face humanity unless we make radical changes in our society and systems. With the overwhelming majority of science forecasting global temperature rises will certainly exceed 2˚, and are heading towards a terrifying 4˚, they suggest that researchers shouldn’t just be publishing reports, but doing whatever they can to alert the public. This, they say, should include public civil disobedience.
As Mike Lynch-White puts it, “If I tell you the room’s on fire, and then just calmly sit down and drink a cup of tea, you’re not going to believe me are you.”
After throwing green paint on the columns of the entrance portico, they attached their letter to the wooden doors, and chained themselves to the stair railings, where they engaged with security staff until police arrived. Both were arrested and held overnight along with two people who appeared to be simply photographing the action.
One of the mission aims of The Royal Society is to demonstrate the importance of science to everyone. Scientist Rebellion are challenging them to make that a priority at a time when science is being ignored by so many with tragic consequences.