Scientists for XR Cambridge forms on the spot at climate emergency event
The recent Community Climate Talk at The Junction proved so inspiring that Scientists for XR Cambridge was formed on the spot at the venue by a multi-disciplinary group of 15 Cambridge-based scientists.
“Scientists for XR (Extinction Rebellion) Cambridge didn’t exist until right after the talk,” said one of the founder members, Laurie, of the moment the group was conceived. “In fact, it formed at the talk as a group of scientists sat down together and decided we wanted to do something.”
The event had galvanised the community into discussing the concerns they have for their families and neighbourhoods as the climate emergency gathers pace. Speakers included conservationist and Scientists Rebellion activist Charlie Gardner, who outlined the devastating impacts of climate change and his reasons for joining XR.
Laurie says her colleagues are engaged in medical research, ecology, industrial biotechnology, atmospheric chemistry, astronomy, immunology, and cell biology among other subjects.
A spokesperson from Scientists for XR Cambridge said: “A group of scientists based in Cambridge came together at the Charlie Gardner talk on Sunday, including people working in ecology, atmospheric chemistry and crop science. There were 15 of us in total. We discussed our despair over the climate, ecological and social crisis and our feeling that nothing is changing despite all the evidence published that the climate is collapsing before our eyes.
“A lot of us wondered why it had taken so long for us to realise this: our own individual work as scientists is not enough, and that our only remaining choice is to get involved in political action for climate justice and system change.”
The new organisation enters the fray at a dark moment for environmentalists. The UK government under the new leadership of Liz Truss has committed to issuing fracking licenses and is opening up oil and gas drilling including at the Jackdaw site.
Laurie, speaking of the moment “I joined Scientists for XR Cambridge”, talked about the background to her significant life choice at the Sunday afternoon gathering.
Laurie was brought up in a very rural area. She said: “I don’t remember not being aware of climate change, and not having this huge concern that there won’t be a future hanging over me, like many people my age do. But I only joined in with activism in May and I’ve been asking myself – why did it take me so long? And I think the answer is that I had lost that hope – I’m 24 now and for a long time I felt powerless and voiceless and disconnected from others who cared about the social and ecological disaster that is the system we have built to live in.
“So when I saw the 2019 rebellion on the news, I felt a massive surge of relief. A large-scale movement which didn’t seem to compromise on how urgent the change had to be. I wanted to join immediately. But I was pulled away by life – I was trying to get a degree, and just to stay afloat under a lot of pressure. It was so easy to get disconnected from something I had cared about since I was a child.
“A couple of years ago I started doing climate science. I researched how resilient forests are to climate stress. The science in this field is terrifying and sad, with implications for millions of people, but again I found myself disconnected. It was so easy to pretend that my tiny individual contribution is enough. But the feeling kept creeping up on me that it isn’t enough, so I joined XR in May, and I realised that maybe I do have something to offer.
“So now I’m not kidding myself that everything is fine. And, perhaps even more importantly for me, I feel so connected to other people who are caring and who understand that we need to build resilient and diverse communities to face this.”
The Scientists for XR Cambridge spokesperson added: “If you are or have been a scientist in any field, and are interested joining in with direct political action, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This is a new group – we welcome all and we want to hear your ideas.”