human activity and the destruction of the planet

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Scientists write to The Guardian about climate change

Following the recent report on climate change commissioned by the United Nations (see previous blog), many scientists feel alarmed and concerned at the lack of governmental response to it.  The report shows that climate change is happening more quickly than predicted and that an increase in global temperature of 1.5ºC from pre-industrial levels may not be achieved, even in a zero carbon emissions situation.

As a result, 94 professors and other scientists (including myself) wrote to the Guardian to emphasise how dire the situation is and to demand precipitate action.  The letter is shown below in its entirety:

Facts about our ecological crisis are incontrovertible. We must take action

Humans cannot continue to violate the fundamental laws of nature or science with impunity, say 94 signatories including Dr Alison Green and Molly Scott Cato MEP.

We the undersigned represent diverse academic disciplines, and the views expressed here are those of the signatories and not their organisations. While our academic perspectives and expertise may differ, we are united on one point: we will not tolerate the failure of this or any other government to take robust and emergency action in respect of the worsening ecological crisis. The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible, and it is unconscionable to us that our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of an unprecedented disaster of our own making.

We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with about 200 species becoming extinct each day. Humans cannot continue to violate the fundamental laws of nature or of science with impunity. If we continue on our current path, the future for our species is bleak.

When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The “social contract” has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.

We therefore declare our support for Extinction Rebellion, launching on 31 October 2018. We fully stand behind the demands for the government to tell the hard truth to its citizens. We call for a Citizens’ Assembly to work with scientists on the basis of the extant evidence and in accordance with the precautionary principle, to urgently develop a credible plan for rapid total decarbonisation of the economy.”
Dr Alison Green Pro vice-chancellor (academic), Arden University, National Director (UK) Scientists Warning
Professor Joy Carter Vice-chancellor, University of Winchester
Dr Rowan Williams
Danny Dorling Halford Mackinder professor of geography, University of Oxford
Jem Bendell Professor of sustainability leadership, University of Cumbria
Dr Ian Gibson Former Chair, House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee
Dr Susie Orbach Consultant psychoanalyst, The Balint Consultancy
David Drew MP, Shadow minister (environment, food and rural affairs)
Professor Molly Scott Cato MEP
Shahrar Ali PhD, Green Party home affairs spokesperson

Peter Belton Professor emeritus of chemistry, University of East Anglia
Dr Simon Boxley Centre for Climate Change Education & Communication, University of Winchester
Erik Buitenhuis Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia
Dave Humphreys Professor of environmental policy, Open University
Andrew Simms Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex; NEF
Arran Stibbe Professor of ecological linguistics, University of Gloucestershire
Dr Rupert Read Reader in philosophy, University of East Anglia
Richard House PhD (Env sci) Chartered psychologist, Stroud

Ronald Barnett Emeritus professor of higher education, University College London Institute of Education
Emeritus Professor Michael Bassey Nottingham Trent University
Professor Woody Caan Editor, Journal of Public Mental Health
Claire Callender, Professor of higher education, Birkbeck and UCL Institute of Education 
Simon Capewell MD DSc, Professor of clinical epidemiology, University of Liverpool
Professor Andrew Cooper Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust; University of East London
Emeritus Professor Tricia David
Windy Dryden Emeritus professor of psychotherapeutic studies, Goldsmiths University of London 
Suman Fernando Honorary professor, London Metropolitan University
Professor Mark Ford, University College London
Professor Gary Francione
Harvey Goldstein Professor of social statistics, University of Bristol
Jonathan Gosling Emeritus professor of leadership studies, University of Exeter
Paul Hoggett Emeritus professor of social policy, UWE, Bristol
Wendy Hollway Emeritus professor of psychology, Open University
Professor John Hughes University of Gloucestershire
Professor Simon Kelley University of Edinburgh
Adrian Kendry Visiting Chair in economics and security, University of Winchester
Karin Lesnik-Oberstein Professor of critical theory, University of Reading
Del Loewenthal Emeritus professor in psychotherapy, University of Roehampton
Professor Mark Maslin FRGS, FRSA University College London
Martin Milton Professor of counselling psychology, Regents University London
Professor Dany Nobus Brunel University London
Professor Jayne Osgood Middlesex University, mother, feminist, activist
Professor Ann Phoenix University of London
Richard Pring Emeritus professor, University of Oxford
Peter Reason Professor emeritus, University of Bath
Professor Diane Reay University of Cambridge
Lynne Segal Anniversary Professor of psychosocial studies, Birkbeck, University of London
Farzana Shain Professor of sociology of Education, Keele University
Prem Sikka Professor of accounting and finance, University of Sheffield
Professor Ernesto Spinelli ES Associates, London
Dr Guy Standing Professorial research associate, SOAS, University of London
Brian Thorne Emeritus professor (counselling), University of East Anglia
Frederick Toates Emeritus professor of biological psychology, Open University 
Dr Steve Tombs Professor of criminology, Open University 
Tony Watts OBE Emeritus professor of career development, University of Derby
Michael J. Wright Ph.D., Emeritus professor in cognitive neuroscience, London                   Dr Ruth Adams Senior lecturer in cultural & creative industries
Dr Meg-John Barker senior lecturer in psychology, Open University
Robert Basto Ph.D., software consultant, scientist, activist
Dr Teresa Belton author of Happier People, Healthier Planet
Dr Gail Bradbrook mother, NGO consultant 
Dr Onel Brooks Senior lecturer in psychotherapy, counselling and counselling psychology
Dr Dominique Chadwick independent researcher and film-maker, Cambridge
Dr Anne Chapman
Dr Red Chidgey Lecturer in gender and media, King’s College London
John Christensen Director and Chair of the Board Tax Justice Network
Dr Christopher D. Coath University of Bristol
Dr Mick Cooper Chartered psychologist, Brighton
Dr Virginia Crisp Lecturer in culture, media & creative industries, King’s College, London
Jonathan Dawson Coordinator of economics, Schumacher College
Richard Eke Ph.D., Associate lecturer, UWE, Bristol
Dr Peter Elfer Principal lecturer, Early Childhood Research Centre
Dr Jonathan Gross King’s College London
Andy Halewood CPsychol., Senior lecturer in counselling psychology, UWE, Bristol
Dr Wiebina Heesterman Ph.D. Law (human rights), activist
Dr Jason Hickel Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Abby Innes London School of Economics
Dr Nicholas James FASS, Open University
Peter Lipman Fellow, Cabot Institute for the Environment, Bristol University
Ed Lord Ph.D., RMN, RCBC Wales, Fellow, Swansea University
Rachel Lunnon PhD (mathematical logic), software engineer
Dr Michael McEachrane University College London; visiting researcher, Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Lund)
Dr Kate McMillan King’s College, London
Dr Gerry Mooney Open University in Scotland
Dr Calum Neill Associate professor of psychoanalysis & cultural theory, Edinburgh Napier University
Dr Eva Novotny retired, University of Cambridge
Dr Christine Parkinson Retired biologist, Scientists for Global Responsibility
Dr Volker Patent CPsychol, lecturer and coach
Dr Gerald Power PhD, management consultant
Dr Gillian Proctor CPsychol., Programme leader, MA in counselling and psychotherapy, University of Leeds
Dr Jay Watts Consultant clinical psychologist
Dr David Whitebread Retired senior member, Homerton College, Cambridge”

On the same day (26.10.18), The Guardian included an article about the Extinction Rebellion (see previous blog) and gave some biographical details about some of the signatories to the letter.  The article, entitled “We have a duty to act: hundreds ready to go to jail over climate crisis”, with a sub-heading ” Rowan Williams backs call for mass civil disobedience ‘to bypass the government’s inaction and defend life itself’ is included in the Climate Change section of the paper.

One of the founders of the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ campaign, Roger Hallam, said it was calling on the government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and establish a “citizens assembly” to devise an emergency plan of action similar to that seen during the second world war.

Another founder, Dr Gail Bradbrook, is calling on supporters of the campaign to join a sit-in on November 17th 2018 in Parliament Square 10.00-15.00.


Dr Gail Bradbrook

She is concerned about future generations, our children and grandchildren, who will have to face the dire consequences of inaction.  She is quoted as saying, ‘If we fail you, it wasn’t for lack of effort.”