Two climatologists were kicked out of a major science conference in Chicago on Thursday.
Peter Kalmus and Rose Abramoff took to the stage to urge other researchers to take climate action.
They told Insider that the American Geophysical Union told them they would be arrested if they returned.
CHICAGO, Ill. — Two climate scientists said they were expelled Thursday from the world’s largest meeting of earth and space sciences.
NASA climatologist Peter Kalmus and ecologist Rose Abramoff each told Insider that they acted on their own behalf when they took the stage during a plenary event during the fall meeting of the NASA. American Geophysical Union, an association of 60,000 earth and space science advocates and professionals.
Throughout the week at the meeting, scientists presented their latest research on how human activities are altering the planet, leading to an increase in extreme weather events and the collapse of ecosystems.
Abramoff and Kalmus see these disasters unfold in their own research, and they’ve both been arrested multiple times this year amid climate protests. They wanted to galvanize other scientists to act on their own research as well.
“If the people who know the most about Earth’s collapse are still acting like everything is fine, then of course everyone will continue to act like everything is fine,” Kalmus told Insider.
On stage, Kalmus and Abramoff unfurled a banner that read “out of the lab and into the streets” and called on their colleagues to start taking climate action.
They told Insider that they planned to do this in advance during the brief break between introductory remarks and the appearance of the first speaker, and prepared about 20 seconds of remarks.
Little did they know they would be competing with a voiceover that automatically started playing on the sound system.
“Our science shows that the planet is dying”
“Our science shows that the planet is dying. It’s terrifying. Everything is in danger. As scientists, we have enormous leverage, but we have to use it. We can wake everyone up,” said shouted Kalmus on a recording introducing the first speaker. .
“Please, please, please find a way to act,” Abramoff shouted, as a woman standing below them grabbed the banner from him, footage shows. video of the event.
AGU staff escorted the couple off stage as audience members cheered and applauded.
Kalmus and Abramoff said two staff members then took their conference badges and told them to leave.
Abramoff said she received a phone call later, in which AGU staff informed her that if she or Kalmus returned to the fall meeting, they would be arrested and AGU would contact their employers to complain. .
“I interpreted that as a threat — which I don’t know if it was a hollow threat or not — to try to get us fired,” Abramoff told Insider.
An AGU spokesperson emailed Insider the following statement:
“Our main plenary at the AGU meeting on Thursday on the topic of art and science was interrupted just as our first speaker began his presentation. AGU staff and center security congresses were able to quickly escort the demonstrators off the stage.
“The AGU’s fall meeting, year after year, provides a wide-open space for debate and discussion on all matters relating to Earth and space science. But we must also ensure the safety of all attendees. The AGU Meetings and Events Code of Conduct requires attendees to treat everyone with respect and this includes respecting presenters’ speaking time and audience listening time.”
Abramoff accused the AGU of “silence the scientists”
Abramoff said the reaction was “much harsher” than she expected.
“I think that doesn’t reflect well on the American Geophysical Union, that they’re silencing scientists for basically sounding the alarm bells on what I think most people agree is a pretty serious crisis,” he said. said Abramoff, adding that it wouldn’t reflect well on AGU “through the long lens of history.”
Sessions at the fall meeting included a dire assessment of the state of the Arctic; projections of future extreme heat, droughts and floods; research on record wildfire seasons; investigations into the side effects of injecting sulfur into the atmosphere to cool the planet; and discussions of how to feed the world’s population as extreme weather causes major crops to fail.
“I love the AGU fall meeting, and I’m really grateful that the AGU exists,” Kalmus said.
But at the same time, he added, “I don’t feel it responds with appropriate urgency to the science content it helps promote.”
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