Scientists turn to activity as a ‘tool to get out of the hole’

“nothing planet b”, says an astrophysicist. Elena Gonzalez IgeaThe 29-year-old has paused his PhD, focused on red dwarf stars, to attend protests and actions organized in Glasgow (UK) as part of the UN Climate Summit taking place in the Scottish city.

He traveled from Granada where he lives 2800 kilometers to Scotland, with two long stops: one in Madrid and one in France. He travels with fellow activists, scholars from various disciplines who are also part of Scientists revolt. This social movement, a kind of follower Extinction Rebellion Which was born in the UK in 2019, is relatively recent in Spain, which has already arrived in times of epidemic. Its power in this country is still moderate, although it has prompted scholars – among them Gonzalez Igea – to Glue the window of BBVA offices in Malaga. “The firefighters had to intervene, Raise our hands with gasoline‘,” says this activist now, emphasizing the irony that her protest, against fossil fuels, has been precisely resolved with oil.

“They have been publishing scientific articles and research on climate change for decades and decades and nothing has been done yet”

Like her, many members of the scientific community got tired of their warnings being ignored and hit the table They chose civil disobedience. “If they don’t care about us anymore, we’ll have to do something else to get them to listen to us,” he shrugs.

In his case, he had just read the reports of the IPCC, the United Nations’ group of climate experts, when he heard about this new movement of scientists. He immediately decided to join, preying on “panic, anger and impotence,” he says as we pass Argyle Street, surrounded by thousands of people who attended the rally called by Glasgow Friday for the futureAnd it includes famous activists such as Greta Thunberg. Thunberg herself, whose message tends to influence the science being listened to, emphasizes this again in the show: “Leaders cannot ignore the scientific consensus“.

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Greta Thunberg during COP26. (EFE/Robert Peary)

He agrees, “They’ve published articles and scientific papers over decades and decades on climate change, about the environmental and social crisis we’re facing, and we’re still doing nothing.” Victor de Santos, also 29 years old. The ecologist argues that, as during the coronavirus health crisis, “the epidemiologists were listened to, not the masks made,” to tackle the climate crisis, the same should be done: “Lobbyists, or multinational companies, But for the record“.

But he explains it with “science” It does not only refer to the academic field, to papers in well-known publications or to people in white coats: also involves closely knowing those who experience the effects of climate. He gives an example of his father who is in his town, Mozonsilo (Segovia municipality with a population of about 800), she devoted her whole life to agriculture, growing mainly leeks and onions, but also barley and wheat. Rainfed crops (such as barley and wheat) They are rotten because it doesn’t rain anymore when it should rain. On top of that, heat waves come when they’re not expected — in February, for example — and we’re seeing extreme weather events more and more frequent, he says. “In Latin America, farmers also know that climate change is affecting them, although they don’t necessarily know all the details of how this happens,” adds this activist, who after Study in Salamanca and the NetherlandsHe lived in Bolivia for a year and a half, and was involved in various environmental projects.

Climate activist in Glasgow. (Reuters/ @JamieLawson1001)

However, de Santos argues that in the scientific community, and especially among those who work directly with data on climate and the environmental crisis, there is awareness of the seriousness of this issue far more than at street level. “Many colleagues do not want to have children‘, he points out, either to avoid Climate footprint to bring a new person into the world, or so that their descendants do not find a planet doomed to social catastrophe.

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Marta Montogo

But science hides its own shadows. Scientific activists are putting themselves at risk of putting their research lives at risk, and that’s why Fear of rejection in scholarship applications, or even dismissed from the more moderate scientific or academic institutions, which do not share their rhetoric of de-growth (which is essentially Consists of taking a step back in the use and consumption of resources, which happens to abandon certain aspects of the current model of life in industrial societies). These fears paralyze people who want to join their fight, because they share the drive, but don’t because they don’t take risks, scientists lament. “Sometimes you watch yourself out of fear‘ Victor de Santos acknowledges.

Javier de la Casa Sanchez, 24, studied biology because he believes in the transformative power of scientific knowledge. Then he became frustrated with the idea, and became more involved in the activity. “Knowing You have to be very careful, because it follows a strict style, but is not entirely neutral; There is bias when choosing to give a voice to certain people and fund certain research,” he rules. On the verge of starting his Ph.D., this biologist has finally chosen to combine direct action with civil disobedience through a rebellion of scientists, something he considers an “emergency tool out of the hole,” a crisis From there, he says, it will be decided with the whole of society (ideally represented in the councils of citizens) which direction to take.

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