The Dernogalizer

June 23, 2009

Massive Mountaintop Removal Protest

I’ve written multiple times on the atrocity that is mountaintop removal.  Here is my most recent article.  Today there were massive protests and arrests at Marsh Fork Elementary in Sundial, West Virginia, where children there face the threat of air pollution and toxic contaminants from mountaintop removal operations.  There were some notorious names in the crowd including top NASA climate scientist James Hansen, 94 year old former Congressman Ken Hechler, and actress Darryl Hannah. Jeff Biggers is an excellent writer in West Virginia in depicting the urgency and seriousness that surrounds the situation, and he covered the entire event in real time here.  James Hansen explained his rationale for participating in the protest and in ending mountaintop removal with this letter to President Obama.  Below is a video from today.

March 15, 2009

Climate Scientists becoming Activists

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 8:59 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve noticed an shift of recent.  Ordinarily whenever I see a report about climate scientists issuing reports detailing the implications of man-made global warming, and the need for policy action, this is as far as they go.  Now, some climate scientists are taking it one step further, and actually becoming political advocates for the policies they bring up in their reports.

This recent article gives a fascinating look into how some of our climate scientists are now becoming activists.  NASA scientist James Hansen is one of them, and that’s no surprise to me, but the scope is greater than I thought.  A few notable excerpts from this article are below.

” They say researchers have spent nearly two decades producing high-quality research demonstrating that the world risks dangerous warming – yet political inaction means CO2 emissions are rising faster than ever. Many also believe the United Nations talks aimed at a global treaty on cutting emissions are likely to fail.”

“His modern counterparts include scientists such as Dr Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow, at the Earth and Biosphere Institute at Leeds University, whose recent research on the impact of climate change on tropical forests has been published in leading journals such as Nature and Science.  Lewis believes his understanding of climate change means he is morally obliged to become a climate activist. He took part in the recent Climate Camp protests at both Kingsnorth and Heathrow.  He has also joined with other protesters to buy land outside Sipson, the village near Heathrow that would be destroyed by construction of the runway.“If the government permits the building of new infrastruc-ture which locks us into a future of high CO2 emissions, there is a moral obligation to try to stop them,” he said.”

“Even the Met Office, which traditionally has been one of the government’s most conservative research institutions, has become quietly radical over climate.It sent a team of its top climate scientists to the Copenhagen meeting – backing them with a team of publicists who lobbied journalists intensively to maximise coverage of their research.”

“Others believe many more scientists will feel obliged to take a similar stand.  Marcus du Sautoy, professor for the public understanding of science and professor of mathematics at Oxford University, said climate change was “galvanising” the scientific community.  “The evidence and data is all there but politicians don’t seem to understand what the science is telling them, so the scientists feel they have to respond,” he said.”

I highly recommend checking out that article.  Another one from a few days ago also noted a shift in how climate scientists are addressing politicians

” The statement, issued on behalf of 2,500 scientists from 80 countries, will be passed to world leaders in the coming months. Their summary of what global warming is doing to the planet warned policymakers: “There is no excuse for inaction.”  The demands and alerts contained in the statement were described as a defining moment in scientists’ relations with political leaders, representing a shift away from their traditional role of merely offering advice to telling politicians to act.”

Now I am all for our scientists being as vocal as necessary on this issue.  I think for far too long they haven’t done a good enough job of conveying their findings in their research to people.  At the same time, climate scientists have been shouted down for decades by fossil fuel based corporations, a clueless media, and weak politicians.  Good for them for finally raising their voice over the chatter.  Now other people might take a different stance, which is that scientists should stick to publishing their research, and stay out of politics and activism.  It could even be argued that by having one foot in each world: the scientific community and the political community, these scientists are making themselves less credible.  I don’t agree with that, but I recognize it as a fair opinion(so long as it isn’t motivated by the fact that you think global warming is a hoax).

My prediction from what I’ve seen in these articles, as well as the trends is that in the coming months and years, climate scientists will become increasingly more vocal in the political community, and add a new dynamic to the environmental movement.  I think it will be for the better.

Blog at