scientists defend their colleagues arrested in Germany

Scientists in prison. On Saturday, October 29, 16 researchers, including five French, were arrested for sticking their hands on a BMW sports car on display at a showroom in Munich, Germany. A symbolic action by the Scientist Rebellion collective, an international movement of scientists against climate inaction. Fed up with the news report after the report of the declared environmental disaster, they decided to start civil disobedience actions.

The German judiciary has detained some of these scientists until November 4. Their arrest and the period of imprisonment shocked the scientific community. Climatologists Jean Jouzel and Christophe Cassou, economist Thomas Piketty and philosophers Dominique Bourg and Dominique Meda show their support in this text published by and signed by more than 950 scientists. Here they express themselves freely.

On Saturday, several scientists from different countries settled peacefully into a sports car on display at the BMW exhibition in Munich, a symbol of the consumer system that has doomed our world to misery. Why this action in this place? There is no need to fear some disasters, we have already faced disasters: thousands of deaths in France due to repeated heat waves this summer, a mega fire in Gironde, farmers struggling with drought, more than ten million people on the roads. After Pakistan’s habitat destruction by an unusual monsoon… The types of events more likely to occur by mid-century.

Not only have we failed to achieve the goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), signed in 1992, to prevent any climate change. “dangerous anthropogenic intervention in the climate system”– but we have already reached a high degree of systemic disruption.

“Emitting extra carbon for glory and promoting it at the trade fair is an active and useless participation in climate destruction (there are other vehicles).”

Tribune signatories


Why such action? Don’t scientists have other ways to express themselves? For 30 years, the scientific community has been patiently documenting changes in Earth’s climate, ecosystems, and economy. He patiently talks in his usual media (journals, conferences, commissioned reports) in a civil tone, about scary things like large-scale climate change over several decades (millennia before), the sixth mass extinction. , the disintegration of human societies. This kind of communication is perfectly legal, but it does not reach the general public enough…However, mobilizing the general public around climate issues would force the public authorities to act on the issues. This is the condition for the success of UNCAC and the COP it organizes every year.

Why this change of tone and the actions of “rebellious scientists” this year? We are coming to a tipping point and it is becoming less and less possible to be patient and credit political and economic decision makers with integrity. The sixth IPCC report explained more than a year ago that while the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C is still possible on paper, radical changes are required starting in the next few months. Since then, states have done nothing. Worse, the war in Ukraine has restarted some of the most polluting oil and gas projects. The UN said last week that the window for action would be to meet 1.5°C “fast closing” .

“In the face of inertia, even general indifference, conflicting with the public service mission they saw thus denied, these scientists decided to warn the world with a non-violent and non-destructive symbolic action. Today they are the Munich prison.”

Tribune signatories


Can we separate the scientists who participate in this type of action (discrediting themselves by revealing their activist nature rather than researchers) from the rest of the scientific community? The scientists who participated in this type of actions are not extremists. They didn’t step out of their comfort zone to do it for the sake of action and media visibility. For many of them, they have professional experience through which they try to navigate the world. If some of them have decided to act more demonstratively, it is because they are desperate to be heard.

“Just because all academics and scientists don’t demonstrate in front of BMWs at the same time doesn’t mean that those who do are isolated and disliked by the rest of their professional community: not everyone can be in the same place.” at the same time.”

Tribune signatories


But most academics and researchers are dismayed by the general indifference to the ongoing disaster: three-quarters of researchers think the world will face a major environmental disaster if things continue at their current pace. This mass may join the camp of protestors in an increasingly disruptive manner. Let us not mistake the guilty. The problem is not protest, 3 out of 4 people say that it is the general inactivity and hopelessness of the world’s youth. “scared”with their future.

First signatories:

Dominique Bourg, University of Lausanne
Pascal Vaillant, Paris Nord University
Jean Jouzel, Pierre Simon Laplace Institute
Julia Steinberger, University of Lausanne
Christophe Cassou, CNRS, Toulouse
Wolfgang Cramer, CNRS – Mediterranean Biodiversity and Ecology Institute
François Gemenne, University of Liege
Timothée Parrique, Lund University
Éloi Laurent, OFCE (Sciences Po) / Stanford
Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, CRH, EHESS
Christophe Bonneuil, CNRS, Paris
Johann Chapoutot, Sorbonne University
Dominique Meda, Paris Dauphine-PSL University
Thomas Piketty, Center for Economic and Social History François-Simiand
Isabelle Stengers, University of Brussels
Jacques Testart, INSERM
Kevin Jean, National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, Paris
Jérôme Santolini, Atomic Energy Commission
Milan Bouchet-Valat, National Institute for Demographic Studies, Aubervilliers
Florence Volaire, Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology, Montpellier
Anne Baillot, University of Le Mans
Stephanie Mariette, INRAE, Bordeaux
Sophie Gerber, INRAE, Bordeaux
Victor Altmayer, Brain Institute, Paris
Julian Carrey, INSA Toulouse
Odin Marc, CNRS Geosciences Environment Toulouse
Alexandre Rambaud, AgroParisTech
Yves Godderis, CNRS Geosciences Environment Toulouse
Xavier Capet, CNRS, LOCEAN, Pierre Simon Laplace Institute
Pierre-Henri Gouyon, National Museum of Natural History
Jérémie Cavé, IRD, Geosciences Environment Toulouse
Joan Cortinas, Center Emile Durkheim, innovator
Gabriel Malek, President Alter Kapitae
Marie-Antoinette Mélières, University of Grenoble
Thibaud Griessinger, independent researcher
Philippe Abecassis, Sorbonne Paris North University
Davide Faranda, Pierre Simon Laplace Institute
Lara Elfjiva, CNRS – Laboratory of Political Anthropology – EHESS
Annalisa Lendaro, CNRS – Certop
Sylvia Becerra, CNRS, GET
Joan Cortinas, CED, University of Bordeaux
Rémi Douvenot, ENAC, Toulouse
Alice Meunier, CNRS, Paris
Laure Vieu, CNRS, Toulouse
Laure Teulières, University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès
Olivier Aumont, LOCEAN, Pierre and Simon Laplace Institute
Pierre Mathieu, University of Aix-Marseille
Céline Marty, University of Franche-Comté
Jean-Christophe Poully, University of Caen
Soizic Rochange, University of Toulouse

Find the full list of signatories in this table:

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