Over 26,000 earth scientists are gathered this week in San Francisco for the annual meeting of The American Geophysical Union
—the world’s largest conference on climate change. During the noon lunch break on Tuesday, I took a break from the usual hard science presentations and participated in something scientists will have to increasingly engage in—activism to protect science from political interference. Hundreds of scientists from the meeting were joined by hundreds more concerned citizens from the Bay Area in a “Stand Up For Science” rally, organized by climatetruth.org
and The Natural History Museum.
The speakers, which included Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, Harvard history of science professor Naomi Oreskes (author of the excellent book and movie, Merchants of Doubt
), Peter Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists (target of subpoenas this year brought by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology), Leila Salazar at Amazon Watch, Andres Soto at Communities for a Better Environment, David Karabelnikoff at Idle No More Bay Area, and James Coleman, student fellow at Alliance for Climate Education. The speakers affirmed that:
- Climate change is a real, human-caused, and urgent threat.
- We must uphold the United States' commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.
- We must protect scientific integrity in policymaking.
- We must protect government scientists from censorship or suppression.
- We must reduce carbon pollution and U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.
- We can make the U.S. a clean energy leader, and champion the just transition to a new energy era that works for all of us.Figure 1.
Penn State Climate scientist Michael Mann addresses a crowd of about 500 people at Tuesday’s Stand Up For Science rally in San Francisco.
Peter Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists urged all the scientists there to join in signing an open letter to Donald Trump
, calling on the incoming Trump administration and 115th Congress to ensure that science continues to play a strong role in protecting public health and well-being. If you are a scientist and would like to add your name to the letter, whose signers include 22 Nobel prize winners, you can do so here.
The most effective speaker at the rally was Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb, who related her experience this year of scuba diving on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and seeing it decimated by a massive coral bleaching episode due to record-warm ocean waters. She urged the scientists there to become activists—to get out of their comfortable chairs where they talk about data with colleagues, and help make a difference. “What are you waiting for?” she implored. “If we speak together, I am confident we can change the course of history.”
The rally closed with a few enthusiastic chants by the normally reserved scientists there:
Water is life!
Out of the labs and into the streets !
Stand up for science!
The rally was also covered by The San Francisco Chronicle
. See if you can spot my bald spot in one of the photos in the article.
My related post: On Giving Tuesday, Support Increasingly Embattled Climate Scientists
.Note: The views expressed above are my own and not necessarily representative of The Weather Company or IBM.