What is Scientist Rebellion?

Quoting from the Scientist Rebellion global website:

Scientists have spent decades writing papers, advising government, briefing the press: all have failed. What is the point in documenting in ever greater detail the catastrophe we face, if we are not willing to do anything about it?

Academics are perfectly placed to wage a rebellion: we exist in rich hubs of knowledge and expertise; we are well connected across the world, and to decision-makers; we have large platforms from which to inform, educate and rally others all over the world; and we have implicit authority and legitimacy, which is the basis of political power. We can make a difference. We must do what we can to halt the greatest destruction in human history.

You can also read our open letter to find out more about our positions.

There's already more environmental movements than there are ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere - why another one?

Good point. The way we see Scientist Rebellion working in Belgium is to support other movements and campaigns within and without Belgium. This means that:

  • We don't actively recruit scientists who are already in activist groups such as e.g. XR.
  • We have a preference for building coalitions and supporting actions and campaigns from other movements rather than planning our own.

The goal is for Scientist Rebellion Belgium to be a movement in which scientists and academics can find like minded people and help enact real change. Sadly our workplaces and universities are too stifling of truly critical thought for us to do it within them.

Who can join?

To quote SR Global again:

The majority of our group have a natural or social sciences background, but several of our members do not and we welcome everyone to join. For the actions, we expect that two thirds of the people are scientists (normally identified as wearing white lab coats).

How are you different from Scientists for Climate / Future / Fridays?

We engage in civil disobedience, that is to say conscientious law breaking.

We believe all political activity, ranging from going on marches, writing to politicians, pamphleting, or even talking to your friends and family about the current climate / ecological / social predicaments* are useful and necessary. However, civil disobedience is also a powerful tool to enact change and one which we believe scientists shouldn't exclude as a way of communicating the severity of the state of the world and the enormity of the changes we must bring about.

I don't feel like getting arrested - can I still help?


Behind the videos and photos of activists protesting there is so much work that you don't see, such as writing press releases, taking photos, researching an action, graphic design, painting banners, artsy stuff more generally, outreach through flyering, giving talks or appearing on panels, fundraising, onboarding new members, maintaining the website, social media communication, action planning and support (who's going to take care of your chickens while you're in prison after all?).

The list could go on for a while, but the point is don't hesitate to join even if you're not prepared to take part in an action or be arrested!

Shouldn't you be Academic Rebellion instead of Scientist Rebellion?

No! We welcome everyone. However, for our actions the spokespeople will tend to be those with authoritative day jobs e.g. former IPCC authors, professors, PhD students ... After all, part of the point of scientists carrying out civil disobedience is to give legitimacy to environmental activism in general, and the more notorious the scientist the greater the effect (see next point about using the argument from authority).

PS high profile whistleblowers from the oil and gas industry are more than welcome :-) (seriously, we know you're out there, join us!)

Isn't your use of the argument from authority problematic?

Indeed it's unscientific to say the least as well as borderline paternalistic.

However, while we exploit our position in society to give greater legitimacy to environmental movements, we are also acting in accordance with our values and beliefs. This "congruent" behaviour can better help communicate the weight and sheer awfulness of the research done by scientists and academics around the world on the ecological predicament. It also makes facing and living with said predicament ever so slightly easier.

Are you Scientists for XR (Extinction Rebellion)?

No, though we have close links to XR in Belgium.

* "Predicament" is a preferable term to "crisis", which implies that what we are experiencing is temporary. Unfortunately, it really isn't.