Peter Kalmus is a climate scientist, known as @ClimateHuman on Twitter, founder of ClimateAd and a number of other organisations responding to the climate crisis. Last week he was arrested with Scientist Rebellion. Yesterday (Tuesday 12th April 2022) he spoke at the a launch event of the new A22 global climate change civil resistance network, made up of nine organisations from around the world, including the UK’s Just Stop Oil. Kalmus shared his “spiritual” experience of arrest and the need for nonviolent disruption and civil disobedience. Here is his speech:
“I believe that the fossil fuel industry, and world leaders who work to expand the fossil fuel industry in full knowledge of the implications for the future of humanity and life on Earth, are committing what what we could refer to as neocide, which is the systematic murder of young people and future generations.
It’s that serious. And there’s this incredibly large collective cognitive dissonance between what those who deeply understand the facts of climate change and ecological breakdown know, and what’s coming. If we remain on this insane track that we’re currently on, continuing to expand the fossil fuel industry despite the clarion call just a few days ago from the IPCC, who say we need to have a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure (in fact existing fossil fuel infrastructure is more than enough to take us past well past 1.5 degrees Celsius of mean global heating and into realms that will be absolutely catastrophic) we potentially risk everything that we love, including civilisation as we know it.
This is not being reported currently in the mainstream media in the terms that I just laid out, which is part of why the public doesn’t understand the depths of the emergency that we’re actually in. Which is why when you look around you, everyone is still doing everything they used to do: burning fossil fuels. Flying in planes. Driving SUVs. And when activists try to desperately raise awareness that we’re in an emergency, they are still being ridiculed. For example, on air by news anchors, and in the public sphere.
The public still feels that saving a few minutes to get to work is more important than having a liveable planet. We’ve tried so many things to raise awareness and and create social change on this. And now is the time for mass civil disobedience.
So I want to just emphasise a quote from Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, who said, on the day of the release of the momentous IPCC working group three of the report: “Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals, but the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.”
Our task here with both Scientist Rebellion and all the other groups that are pushing for mass climate civil disobedience, is to wake the world up, to wake up to the actual emergency that we are in.
I was arrested last Wednesday by engaging in climate civil disobedience. I consider it to be a desperate attempt to protect my children, and to protect the parts of this planet that I love which are all parts of this planet, and to protect young people everywhere; people who don’t have a voice, vulnerable people, poor people, and people who are coming in the future.
This was a global rebellion from climate scientists, other scientists and supporters, and it will not stop. Scientists are well aware that all of the impacts that we’ve been living through so far are going to get worse and worse; that new impacts will arise that we haven’t seen yet, and new synergies and bad interconnections between the impacts that we’re seeing and all of civilisation’s systems.
For example, the food system, the water system, and the political system will continue to get worse. It’s like pushing at a wall harder and harder and harder. If you keep ramping up the force, every single day, eventually the wall will break, and if we continue on this course, big, big things will start to break. Which means that lots of lots of people will die and there will be lots of suffering.
So, in my mind, it is a huge shame that we are at this point now, especially since we knew about what was coming for many, many decades. But the fossil fuel industry has systematically and deliberately suppressed that information and suppressed action, and has infiltrated the politics of our world leaders and has even infiltrated the news media, which has made it much, much harder to create awareness and to create a movement that can stand up to the fossil fuel industry. It has infiltrated the public sphere. Without standing up to the fossil fuel industry, and having a movement that is as powerful or more powerful than the fossil fuel industry, those in power right now will not voluntarily make the huge and rapid transformations that we need to divert the path back on track for our society.
We all know where it needs to go, there’s no secret about what the solutions are anymore.
The last thing I will say is that, for me personally, the civil disobedience action that I engaged in last week was a profoundly spiritual experience. And in some way, incredibly satisfying and empowering and hope-giving and life-affirming. The solidarity that I feel with the movement now, and all those around the world who are engaging in similar actions and risking their jobs, their freedom, their bodies, is perhaps the most beautiful feeling.
And I want a lot of other people to experience this, not just scientists. I certainly want as many climate scientists as possible to start participating in these actions, but we need everybody. I don’t care what your job is—whether you’re a historian or an artist or a sociologist or a psychologist or a lawyer, it doesn’t matter.
We’re all humans. We’re all on this planet and we depend on it for life, and whether we know it or not a lot of us are already deeply in love with this planet. Somewhere down there inside, we know we were created by this planet. It’s our mother, and we’re all deeply in love with it and we have to reconnect with her.
Mass climate civil disobedience is the probably the best way I can think of for doing that.
So that’s all I have to say. Thank you very much.
Peter was speaking at the launch of the A22 global climate change civil resistance network at a press conference, including the group’s declaration and updates from Germany, the UK, and Canada.
The nine groups who have come together to form the network, which is supported in part by the Climate Emergency Fund, are:
- Fireproof Australia | Website
- Save Old Growth (Canada) | Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | TikTok | YouTube | Media Photos
- Dernière Rénovation / Last Renovation France | Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Tiktok
- Letzte Generation / Last Generation Germany | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | TikTok | YouTube | Telegram | LinkedIn | Website | Media photos | Logos Folder
- Ultima Generazione / Last Generation Italy | Facebook | Instagram | Telegram | Twitter
- Stopp Oljeletinga! / Extinction Rebellion Norway | Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
- Renovate Switzerland | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | TikTok | Media photos | Logos Folder
- Just Stop Oil UK | Website | Instagram | Twitter
- Declare Emergency (USA) | Website | Media Photos | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | YouTube