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“Climate activists are sometimes portrayed as dangerous radicals, but the really dangerous radicals are countries that increase fossil fuel production.” – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

I am a climatologist and a desperate father. How can I plead louder? What will it take? What can my colleagues and I do to prevent this catastrophe from unfolding around us with such excruciating clarity?

On Wednesday, I risked arrest by locking myself in an entrance to the JP Morgan Chase building in downtown Los Angeles with colleagues and supporters. Our action in Los Angeles is part of an international campaign organized by a group of concerned scientists called Scientist Rebellion, involving more than 1,200 scientists in 26 countries and supported by local climate groups. Our day of action follows the IPCC Working Group 3 report released on Monday, which details the heartbreaking gap between where society is heading and where we need to be. Our movement is growing rapidly.

We chose JP Morgan Chase because of all the investment banks in the world, JP Morgan Chase finances the most new fossil fuel projects. As the new IPCC report explains, emissions from current and projected fossil energy infrastructure are already more than double the amount that would push the planet to more than 1.5°C of global warming, a level of warming that will bring much more intense heat, fires, storms, floods and drought than the current 1.2°C.

Even limiting heating to less than 2°C, a level of heating that I believe could threaten civilization as we know it, emissions would need to peak before 2025. As the Secretary General of UN chief Antonio Guterres at Monday’s press conference: “Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic folly. And yet, that is precisely what President Biden, most other world leaders and the big banks are doing. It is no exaggeration to say that Chase and other banks are contributing to murder and neocide through their financing of fossil fuels.

Earth’s collapse is far worse than most people realize. Science indicates that as fossil fuels continue to heat up our planet, everything we love is at risk. For me, one of the most horrific aspects of all of this is the juxtaposition of current and upcoming climate disasters with the “business as usual” happening all around me. It’s so surreal that I often find myself sifting through the science to make sure it’s really happening, a kind of science nightmare arm pinch. Yes, it’s really happening.

If everyone could see what I see coming, society would go into climate emergency mode and end fossil fuels in just a few years.

I hate being Cassandra. I just prefer to be with my family and do science. But I feel morally obligated to sound the alarm. By the time I transitioned from astrophysics to Earth science in 2012, I had realized that facts alone did not persuade world leaders to act. So I explored other ways to create social change, while becoming more and more concerned. I joined the Citizen Lobby for the Climate. I cut my own shows by 90% and wrote a book about how that turned out to be satisfying, fun, and connecting. I stopped flying, started a website to encourage others, and organized colleagues to lobby the American Geophysical Union to reduce college flights. I helped organize FridaysForFuture in the United States. I co-founded a popular climate app and started the first advertising agency for the Earth. I have spoken at climate rallies, city council meetings, libraries and local churches. I wrote article after article, open letter after open letter. I’ve given hundreds of interviews, always with authenticity, solid facts, and an openness to showing vulnerability. I have encouraged and supported countless climate activists and young people behind the scenes. And all of this was on my personal time and without a small risk to my scientific career.

Nothing worked. It is now the eleventh hour and I feel terrified for my children and terrified for humanity. I feel deep sorrow over the loss of forests and corals and the decrease in biodiversity. But I will continue to fight as hard as I can for this Earth, no matter how bad it gets, because it can always get worse. And it will continue to get worse until we end the fossil fuel industry and the exponential quest for ever more profit at the expense of everything else. There’s no way to fool physics.

Martin Luther King Jr said, “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is truly cooperating with it.” Out of necessity, and after exhausting effort, I joined the ranks of those who selflessly risk their freedom and endanger their bodies for the Earth, despite the ridicule of the ignorant and the punishment of a colonizing legal system designed to protect the planet -kill the interests of the rich. It’s time we all joined them. The feeling of solidarity is a wonderful balm.

As for climatologists? We’ve been trying to tell you all this time.

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