Climate Activists-Scientists are Expelled From the AGU Conference at Chicago

  • Two climate scientists were kicked out at a major science conference held in Chicago on Thursday.
  • Rose Abramoff and Peter Kalmus were on stage to encourage other scientists to take climate action.
  • Insider reported that the American Geophysical Union had told them they would be arrested if their return was permitted.

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 KalmusRose Abramoff and the ecologist Rose Abramoff both told Insider they acted in their own interests when they climbed up on stage during a plenary event at a fall meeting of American Geophysical Union. This is an association of 60,000 professionals and advocates in the Earth and Space sciences.

The meeting was full of scientists presenting their latest research about how human activities are changing our planet. This has led to increasing extreme weather and ecosystem collapse.

Kalmus and Abramoff see these disasters unfolding in their research, and they have been both arrested multiple times this year as a part of climate protests. They wanted to inspire other scientists to do their own research.

Kalmus said to Insider, “If the people with the most knowledge about Earth breakdown are still acting as if everything’s fine,”

Kalmus and Abramoff raised a banner onstage that read “out of the laboratory and into the streets” and called for climate action from their colleagues.

Insider was told by the pair that they had planned ahead to make these remarks during the brief pause between the introduction and the appearance of the first speaker. They had prepared approximately 20 seconds of remarks.

They didn’t realize they would be competing with a voiceover, which automatically played over the sound system.

“Our science shows that the planet’s dying.”

“Science is showing that the planet’s life expectancy is decreasing. It’s terrifying. Everything is at risk. Scientists have tremendous leverage. But we must use it. Kalmus shouted “We can wake everybody up!” over a recording that introduced Kalmus to the first speaker.

Abramoff yelled, “Please, please. Please find a way…” According to video footage, Abramoff grabbed the banner from a woman who was standing below them.

As the audience cheered and applauded, AGU staff led the pair offstage.

Kalmus and Abramoff claimed that two employees took their conference badges and told them to go.

Abramoff stated that she received a telephone call from AGU staff later in which they informed her that Kalmus or she would be arrested if Kalmus or she returned to the fall meeting. AGU would also contact 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 river

Rose Abramoff, seen here at the American Geophysical Union’s last day of its fall meeting. She said that she is now barred from attending.

Morgan McFall-Johnsen/Insider

Insider received the following statement from AGU via email:

“Our main plenary at AGU Meeting Thursday on Art and Science was interrupted just before our first speaker began her presentation. AGU staff members and security personnel were able to quickly remove the protesters from the stage.

“AGU Fall Meeting provides an open forum for discussion and debate on all aspects of Earth and space science. It is held every year. We also need to ensure safety for all attendees. The AGU Meetings & Events Code of Conduct requires that attendees treat everyone with respect, including presenters and audience members.

portrait of Peter Kalmus

Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist, has been arrested for calling for action.

Rachel Jessen/Insider

Abramoff accused AGU’s’silencing scientists’

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

“I think it doesn’t reflect well to the American Geophysical Union. That they’re silencing scientists because they’re trying to essentially tone the alarm about the what I think most of us agree is a pretty severe crises,” Abramoff said. He also stated that this would not reflect favorably on AGU “throughthe long lense of history.”

The fall meeting featured sessions that included a dire report card on the state of the Arctic; future extreme heat, drought and floods; research into record-breaking wildfire season; investigations into side effects of injecting sulfur in the atmosphere to cool it; and discussions about how to feed the world’s population when major crops fail due to extreme weather.

Kalmus stated, “I love the AGU Fall Meeting, and I’m really thankful that the AGU exists.”

However, he said that the company doesn’t seem to be responding with the right urgency to the science it helps to foster.

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