By Lilian Anekwe Lillian Anekwe for New Scientist Hundreds of climate change activists took to the streets of London this morning for a planned two-week protest organised by the campaign group Extinction Rebellion. New Scientist spoke to several scientists who are members of the group and will be taking part in the protests to find out what prompted them to take direction action. Charlie Gardner, a conservation scientist at the University of Kent, says he joined the organisation because he felt that his professional responsibility extended beyond “just studying and describing” the impact of climate change on biodiversity. “We know what to do to save species, but the UK government is not giving us the funding to do it. I’ve done everything I possibly can professionally and personally, but none of that has worked, it’s all been a drop in the ocean. For me as a scientist this is necessary – and it is going to work.” Advertisement Lillian Anekwe for New ScientistLillian Anekwe for New ScientistLillian Anekwe for New ScientistLillian Anekwe for New Scientist Gardner is encouraging other scientists who are not able to join the protests to support the movement by writing in scientific publications, starting local activism groups and lobbying their institutions and employers to declare a ‘climate emergency’. Extinction Rebellion’s latest move is a planned campaign of civil disobedience across London, taking action including blocking major streets and bridges in the city centre, occupying government department buildings, and holding a mass sit-in at London’s City Airport. The group say that there will also be simultaneous protests in 60 cities around the world. Extinction Rebellion claim the action will be on a much larger scale than its protests in central London in April, when 11 days of protests brought parts of the capital to a standstill and led to more than a thousand arrests. Read more: Climate protesters want net zero carbon emissions by 2025 – is it possible? Jennifer Rudd, a scientist at a UK university, says she had no choice but to join Extinction Rebellion “given everything I know about climate change”. She has since made changes in her career to align with the movement’s values, including stopping flying to reduce her carbon footprint, which she says “has had an effect on my international collaborations and reputation”. Lillian Anekwe for New Scientist Lee, who didn’t wish to give his full name, says he worked for a decade in climate science, but “we are now reaching the tipping point that we’ve always been fearful of”. “It’s almost to the point when we can’t reverse it. This is our last chance. The social contract with the government has been broken and now there’s nothing left to do but rebel.” Read more: The science behind Extinction Rebellion’s three climate change demands Extinction Rebellion has three demands for the UK. It wants the government to “tell the truth” about climate change, create a citizens’ assembly to decide on action, and set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. The UK has committed to a legally-binding goal of slashing its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, and laid the legislation to make this law before parliament in June. More on these topics: climate change climate global warming extinction
You must log in to post a comment.