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2 climate activists got kicked out of the world’s biggest Earth-science conference for protesting, and one says the association is ‘silencing scientists’

peter kalmus and rose abramoff stand on a stage in front of a screen with a bannerPeter Kalmus (left) and Rose Abramoff (right) unfurled a banner onstage during a lunchtime plenary at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Courtesy of Rose Abramoff

  • Two climate scientists were kicked out of a major science conference in Chicago on Thursday.
  • Peter Kalmus and Rose Abramoff went onstage to urge other researchers to take climate action.
  • They told Insider the American Geophysical Union told them they’d be arrested if they returned.

CHICAGO, Illinois — Two climate scientists say they were kicked out of the world’s biggest meeting of the Earth and space sciences on Thursday.

NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus and ecologist Rose Abramoff each told Insider they acted on their own behalf when they climbed onstage during a plenary event at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, an association of 60,000 advocates and professionals in the Earth and space sciences.

All week at the meeting, scientists had been presenting their latest research on the ways human activities are changing the planet, leading to increasing weather extremes and ecosystem collapse.

Abramoff and Kalmus see these catastrophes unfolding in their own research, and they’ve both been arrested multiple times this year as part of climate protests. They wanted to galvanize other scientists to act on their own research, too.

“If the people who know the most about Earth breakdown are still acting like everything’s fine, then of course everyone else is going to keep acting like everything’s fine,” Kalmus told Insider.

Onstage, Kalmus and Abramoff unfurled a banner that read, “out of the lab and into the streets,” and called for their colleagues to start taking climate action.

They told Insider they planned ahead of time to do this during the brief pause between introductory remarks and the appearance of the first speaker, and had prepared about 20 seconds of remarks.

They didn’t know they’d be competing with a voiceover that automatically began playing over the sound system.

‘Our science is showing that the planet is dying’

—Peter Kalmus (@ClimateHuman) December 16, 2022

“Our science is showing that the planet is dying. It’s terrifying. Everything is at risk. As scientists, we have tremendous leverage, but we need to use it. We can wake everybody up,” Kalmus yelled over a recording introducing the first speaker.

“Please, please, please find a way to take action,” Abramoff called out, as a woman standing below them grabbed the banner from her, according to video footage from the event.

AGU staff escorted the pair offstage as audience members applauded and cheered.

Kalmus and Abramoff said two staff members then took their conference badges from them 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 that AGU was contacting their employers to complain.

“I interpreted that as basically a threat — which I don’t know if it was a hollow threat or not — to try and get us fired,” Abramoff told Insider.

rose abramoff in winter coat stands beside chicago riverRose Abramoff, seen here on the last day of the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting, which she said she’s now barred from attending.

Morgan McFall-Johnsen/Insider

A spokesperson for AGU sent Insider the following statement via email:

“Our main plenary at the AGU Meeting Thursday on the subject of Art and Science was disrupted just as our first speaker began her presentation. AGU staff and convention center security was able to quickly escort the protesters off stage.

“AGU Fall Meeting year after year provides a wide-open space for debate and discussion around all issues in Earth and space science. But we also need to ensure there is safety for all attendees. AGU Meetings and Events Code of Conduct requires attendees to treat everyone with respect and this includes respecting presenters’ time to speak and audiences’ time to listen.”

portrait of Peter KalmusPeter Kalmus is a climate scientist who’s deliberately gotten himself arrested in calls for action.

Rachel Jessen/Insider

Abramoff accused AGU of ‘silencing scientists’

Abramoff said the reaction was “much harsher” than she expected.

“I think it doesn’t reflect well on the American Geophysical Union, that they’re silencing scientists for trying to essentially sound the alarm about what I think most people agree is a pretty severe crisis,” Abramoff said, adding that this would not reflect well on AGU “through the long lens of history.”

Sessions at the fall meeting included a dire report card on the state of the Arctic; projections of future extreme heat, drought, and floods; research on record-breaking wildfire seasons; investigations into the side effects of injecting sulfur into the atmosphere to cool the planet; and discussions on how to feed the global 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 like it’s responding with any appropriate urgency to the content of the science that it helps to foster.”

Read the original article on Business Insider