During a Dec. 17 interview with Insider, ecologist Rose Abramoff and National Aeronautics and Space Administration climate scientist Peter Kalmus admitted they acted on their own behalf when they climbed onstage during a plenary event at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), an association of 60,000 advocates and professionals in the Earth and space sciences.
As the first plenary speaker was being introduced, Kalmus and Abramoff went onstage and unfurled a banner that read "out of the lab and into the streets." They called on their colleagues to begin taking action against "climate change."
"Our science is showing that the planet is dying. It's terrifying. Everything is at risk. As scientists, we have tremendous leverage, but we need to use it. We can wake everybody up," Kalmus shouted. Abramoff, meanwhile, exhorted the audience members to "find a way to take action."
A woman standing underneath them grabbed the banner, which coincided with AGU staff member escorting the pair offstage. The two confirmed that staff members took their conference badges and told them to leave the premises. Audience members were applauding as the two were being accosted.
Abramoff later received a phone call from AGU staff warning her that if she or Kalmus returns to the meeting, they would be arrested. The union added that they would contact both 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," she said.
According to the two scientists, they had planned ahead of time to do the protest during the short break between introductory remarks and the appearance of the first speaker and had prepared short speeches. They were unaware, however, that they would be competing with a voice-over that automatically started playing over the sound system.
"I think it doesn't reflect well on the AGU that they're silencing scientists for trying to essentially sound the alarm about what I think most people agree is a pretty severe crisis," Abramoff told Insider.
Kalmus, meanwhile, said that "if the people who know the most about Earth breakdown are still acting like everything's fine, then, of course, everyone else is going to keep acting like everything's fine." (Related: Climate doomers coming to realize that nothing will ever be enough to stop their imaginary climate disaster.)
The two scientists, who had been arrested several times in 2022 as part of climate protests, said they wanted to arouse other scientists to act on their own research as well.
The AGU defended its actions during the conference in an emailed statement to Insider.
"Our main plenary at the AGU meeting on the subject of art and science was disrupted just as our first speaker began her presentation," a spokesperson for the union explained. "AGU staff and convention center security was able to quickly escort the protesters off stage."
The spokesperson reiterated that the AGU's annual fall meeting provides a wide-open space for debate and discussion around all issues in Earth and space science. "But we also need to ensure there is safety for all attendees. AGU Meetings and Events Code of Conduct requires attendees to treat everyone with respect and this includes respecting presenters' time to speak and audiences' time to listen," the spokesperson added.
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