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Citing 'Moral Duty to Take Radical Action,' Over 700 Scientists Endorse Mass Civil Disobedience to Fight Climate Crisis

"We believe that the continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and nonviolent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law."

Scientists for Extinction Rebellion speak at the junction of Moorgate and Lothbury behind the Bank of England in London on October 14, 2019. (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)

More than 700 scientists—and counting—have signed a declaration of support for the people around the world engaging in non-violent civil disobedience to pressure political leaders to act on the climate crisis.

"We can't allow the role of scientists to be to just write papers and publish them in obscure journals and hope somehow that somebody out there will pay attention," Julia Steinberger, an ecological economist at the University of Leeds in the U.K. and one of the declaration's first signatories, told Reuters on Saturday. "We need to be rethinking the role of the scientist and engage with how social change happens at a massive and urgent scale. We can't allow science as usual."

The declaration, signed by scientists from a diverse range of fields and countries, states that "if global greenhouse gas emissions are not brought rapidly down to net zero and biodiversity loss is not halted, we risk catastrophic and irreversible damage to our planetary life-support systems, causing incalculable human suffering and many deaths."

"As scientists, we have an obligation that extends beyond merely describing and understanding the natural world to taking an active part in helping to protect it," the document says. "We believe that the continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and nonviolent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law."

Dozens of scientists put words into action by taking part in Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrations in London over the weekend and on Monday.

Emily Grossman, a molecular biologist who joined XR's protests in London's financial district Monday, said "the urgency of the crisis is now so great that many scientists feel, as humans, that we now have a moral duty to take radical action."

Read the full declaration:

As scientists, we have dedicated our lives to the study and understanding of the world and our place in it. We declare that scientific evidence shows beyond any reasonable doubt that human-caused changes to the Earth's land, sea, and air are severely threatening the habitability of our planet. We further declare that overwhelming evidence shows that if global greenhouse gas emissions are not brought rapidly down to net zero and biodiversity loss is not halted, we risk catastrophic and irreversible damage to our planetary life-support systems, causing incalculable human suffering and many deaths.

We note that despite the scientific community first sounding the alarm on human-caused global warming more than four decades ago, no action taken by governments thus far has been sufficient to halt the steep rise in greenhouse gas emissions, nor address the ever-worsening loss of biodiversity. Therefore, we call for immediate and decisive action by governments worldwide to rapidly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, to prevent further biodiversity loss, and to repair, to the fullest extent possible, the damage that has already been done. We further call upon governments to provide particular support to those who will be most affected by climate change and by the required transition to a sustainable economy.

As scientists, we have an obligation that extends beyond merely describing and understanding the natural world to taking an active part in helping to protect it. We note that the scientific community has already tried all conventional methods to draw attention to the crisis.

We believe that the continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and nonviolent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law.

We therefore support those who are rising up peacefully against governments around the world that are failing to act proportionately to the scale of the crisis.

We believe it is our moral duty to act now, and we urge other scientists to join us in helping to protect humanity's only home.

Scientists can add their signatures here.

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