Role and Purposes
With respect to the desperate situation, we as humanity are in the rapidly closing time window in which averting the worst is still possible. Within the global climate and ecological crisis movement, we see Scientist Rebellion’s tasks and purposes as the following:
- Mobilize academics and scientists for actions of non-violent civil disobedience. Walk the talk! If those who know most about the crisis carry on as usual themselves, who is supposed to grasp the urgency of the situation? If scientists use their reputation and position within society to challenge norms and rules set up by those destroying all our future, we can move society faster towards a great social transformation.
- Open the academic and scientific institutions for discussion about and places of civil disobedience. The scientific community (comprised of individuals and institutions) is one pillar of society. Tipping such a pillar into civil disobedience will catalyze social change faster, and will be a dilemma for politics as they depend on cooperation with publicly funded organizations.
- Provide legitimacy to other groups of non-violent civil resistance by supporting their forms of action as well as their demands.
Due to the functional roles of Scientist Rebellion, these umbrella demands overarch everything we do:
- As part of the scientific community, we demand that our colleagues join the youth, the Most Affected People and Areas and the broad climate movement on the frontlines, by engaging in non-violent direct action and stopping collaboration with those actors that contribute to ecological decline and human suffering.
- We also demand that scientific and academic institutions refocus their resources, both material and intellectual, to lead the societal changes needed to avert climate, biodiversity and societal collapse.
- We demand immediate decarbonization in line with the IPCC & IPBES recommendations and degrowth in the global north to allow a just transition, and for the global south to build the required infrastructure to adapt to climate change and to its consequences. These transitions should be led by people’s assemblies to regain truly democratic processes.
- We demand the end of extractivism and establish mechanisms to secure the satisfaction of the global needs of human and more-than-human beings and their social and natural environments.
We demand an immediate end to undemocratic and authoritarian rule everywhere on the planet, the unconditional release of all climate activists, and the protection and recognition of the fundamental right to withhold one’s consent to be part of a system built on the exploitation of the environment, [now and in the years to come].
Scientists in SR
Scientists share a commitment to the knowability of nature and to the dependence of truth on both experimental replication and logical coherence, thus allowing us to identify as members of a common group. We advocate for and uphold the scientific method – a way of thinking based on logical reasoning that utilizes data, rigorous methods of empirical enquiry and peer review.
Scientists are also committed to epistemic values (simplicity, accuracy of prediction, truth, objectivity, criticizability, coherence, independence, honesty, fairness, etc.). We want to overcome a dualistic ontology in the sciences which split the world in two parts: into the world of facts and the world of norms, because in such a dualistic view nature will lack any dignity of its own and that is not what the age of ecological crisis needs.
We welcome people that are either training to be a scientist, or people actively working as scientists in academia or the private sector. Scientist Rebellion also recognizes the invaluable contribution of citizen scientists, science communicators, and science teachers who educate and apply scientific methods and processes to our lives and expand our knowledge and understanding of the world. Scientist Rebellion acknowledges the wisdom of Indigeneous people, e.g. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and invites them to join SR.
We often identify by wearing lab coats in actions. We adopt lab coats as a political stance and habit, and therefore, explicitly encourage scientists across disciplines, not just wet lab researchers, to wear them. It is suggested that those wearing a lab coat in actions have formal education, e.g. a bachelor’s degree, but this suggestion is open for chapters to adapt depending on the type of action, local group structure, and circumstances.
Non-violent civil disobedience (NVCD) and non-violent direct action (NVDA)
NVCD and NVDA are techniques of action for applying power in a conflict by using symbolic protests, non-cooperation, and defiance, but not physical violence. While infrastructure can be damaged, utmost care should be taken to plan actions so they do not harm other people in any way, including physical and mental harm. NVCD and NVDA are bold, disruptive and media-catching, and people participating in direct action are prepared to face consequences such as arrests or imprisonment. NVCD and NVDA are organised and well-planned. Participants should go through training on NVCD or NVDA before engaging in actions. Protecting the integrity of activists is be paramount in all types of actions.
Radical solidarity and right to act
We support any NVDA action that follows our NVDA definition and that targets inaction towards the climate and ecological emergency. This includes (a) actions within SR, giving each person the right to act and plan actions according to our NVDA definition, as well as (b) actions taken by other groups which we will support through social media and other means.
Code of conduct and conflict resolution
Embracing learning and change in our code
This code will evolve as we learn and grow, and especially in response to feedback from under-represented people.
Structure and decision making
Think global, act local. SR is a horizontal decentralized organization composed of multiple local branches in different countries where the primary discussions, decisions and demonstrations take place. Following our goals, demands and principles, every subgroup can decide on its actions for itself, and we encourage branches to include and cooperate with local affinity groups. Decisions will be made by processes which are accessible to as many members as possible, and there should always be room for discussions and clear information. Whilst local branches coordinate local working groups and actions, they also join forces in international working groups, especially for coordinated global and international actions.
SR stands in solidarity with and amplifies the voices of the Most Affected People and Areas. SR therefore supports groups and organizations whose overall goals align with our fight for climate justice. We work to identify interculturality among SR, actively uplifting and amplifying the voices of the Most Affected People and Areas and historically marginalized groups, e.g. in interviews and on social media.
We encourage scientists from all parts of the world to join SR. We try to schedule meetings keeping different time zones in mind, and provide translated materials where necessary. Every country and local group decide on the actions and strategy suitable for their context, keeping in line with our non-hierarchical approach and the radical solidarity principle.
We oppose oppression and directly reject racism, sexism, homo- and transphobia, facism, anti-semitism, ageism, and ableism. We encourage our members to embrace discomfort and challenge their own world views by listening to all perspectives, thoughts and opinions. Ultimately we seek to overturn the power structures which are at the root and heart of this crisis: colonialist, racist, ableist, and sexist structures. Actions by SR, and SR internal processes aim to do this by equitably including marginalized, vulnerable, or under-privileged groups.
References and further reading
2. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report 2022: “The Closing Window – Climate crisis calls for rapid transformation of societies” (https://www.unep.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2022)
Gardner et al. 2021, From Publications to Public Actions: The Role of Universities in Facilitating Academic Advocacy and Activism in the Climate and Ecological Emergency
Engler&Engler “This is an Uprising”, ISBN 978-1568587332