Academic International Mobilisation (AIM)

From Alison Green

Our world is in crisis. CO​2​ levels in the atmosphere continues to rise unbated, oceans are warming and acidifying, ice at the poles and in glaciers melts, sea levels rise and, as we write, trees and bushes in Australia are ablaze, and 45 million people in southern Africa are experiencing the worst drought in a century. If present trends continue, whole areas of the earth’s surface will become uninhabitable, and hundreds of millions of people will suffer and die. Scientists recently declared a climate emergency in a paper that made headlines around the world and has been endorsed by well over 11,000 scientists [1].

We cannot simply keep uttering these stark warnings without committing to take action.

We are in the midst of a mass global extinction, and are seeing catastrophic loss of wildlife, destruction of natural habitats, and loss of ecosystems. We know that academics and scientists are aware of the challenges and that many want our academic institutions to take bolder action [2,3,4].

If not now, then when?

As a matter of extreme urgency, the people of the planet need to learn how to act in increasingly cooperative, intelligent, humane and effective ways so as to resolve the global crises that we face. How can this be done? How can humanity acquire the social wisdom that we need? There is a solution. We can learn from the way science makes progress how to make social progress towards a wiser world.

We urgently need to bring about a revolution in universities – in academic inquiry – so that the basic task becomes, not just to acquire knowledge, but rather to help humanity come to a better understanding of what our global problems are, and what we need to do about them. We believe that universities and colleges need to be at the centre of efforts to galvanize the public, government, the media, corporations, industry and agriculture to take action to deal with the climate crisis and other global crises as swiftly and effectively as possible.

Students and academic staff need to get together to work out how they can best help enhance understanding in the public domain as to what our problems are, and what we need to do to solve them. We need to lobby, engage with the media, promote public debate and discussion, set up community events, take part in relevant demonstrations, and engage in peaceful civil disobedience (when necessary). Practitioners of each academic discipline, from theoretical physics to the study of literature, need to work out what needs to change if a discipline is to contribute appropriately to fostering planetary stewardship and how to live within planetary boundaries.

For greater detail on why and where we need a transformation and mobilisation of universities please see the full paper [5]. This paper includes a blueprint for the initial mobilisation event to overcome institutional inertia, and the necessities that the university has a moral and rational duty to satisfy. Feel free to join our dedicated Telegram group via the following link:
https://t.me/joinchat/AAAAAFja40D8moLhBQyTTA?fbclid=IwAR2PGSgeMHc-bfiGPVowBYuc9p_636UDoxOxFCK_HOeEZnPMbfOFATpu3cw

[1]
(​ https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806#165912541​ )
[2]
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/universities-must-actswiftly-and-independently-climate-change
[3]
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/scholars-want-sabbaticals-and-placements-fight-climate-change
[4]
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-019-0979-y​
[5]
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wsgm7XKFjyFRLOqto7yVLi5oG75u_QNn/view?usp=sharing

4 Replies to “Academic International Mobilisation (AIM)”

  1. I absolutely agree with this letter. I hold a Ph.D. degree but I don’t teach, rather, I try to promote active personal vehicle (bit.ly/apvFELA) that is more effective alternative to cars in urban areas. If FELA vehicle replaces cars in our cities, it’ll cut GHGE by 20% directly (with externalities even more). That’s why I consider this letter’s cause as mine.

  2. Dear Alison Green and friends!

    Basically I am appending here the same comment as almost 2 months ago. It is urgent that ALL scientists learn and understand that:

    CO2 is not the main problem today. It is the indirect reason of our exploiting and robbing western life and the trigger for other positive feedback environmental processes, which especially exaggerate in Northern and Polar regions.

    But the main critical threat to the global nature and human civilization are the methane emissions, not that of the ruminants, but the emissions of the ARCTIC METHANE.

    CO2 is rising slowly, as our economy and population, but the weather and natural catastrophic events started to rise much more exponentially. There must be an OTHER REASON, even if we would not know for this problem…

    Although the research under Igor Semiletov’s leadership started more than a decade ago and other measurements have been published before, three years ago Natalia Shakhova published maximal 3 kg of methane through 1 m3 in 1 day. They also measured almost 1 kg during testing of their equipment. They estimated 10 % of so much damaged seafloor in East Siberian Arctic seas. Dr. Wadhams in an interview accentuates the statement of Shakhova that they don’t dare to extrapolate these measured emissions to the entire sea region. Why? Because the extrapolation gives the enormous huge annual quantity and it will cause panic… But do you think that the same geological structure of the entire sea floor can behave differently as observed in certain regions and points??

    We did this extrapolation, for we are not scientists and we cannot lose our positions and glory and founding in case of some errors in estimation. But only such estimation gives us the actual size of the problem. And we took the realistic only the most vulnerable surface of shallow sea in size of 600.000 km2 and 10 % of most active and degraded seafloor permafrost 60.000 km2.

    Multiply these numbers and you will get 22 Gtons of the annual Arctic emissions (only from ESS). 4 times of the official methane quantity in the atmosphere… Where does it go, if the troposphere concentrations rise much slower ?? The Arctic low concentration degradation processes are certainly not able to decompose it.
    Two new Russian expedition have been led since 2017 and every time they report only about increasing methane emissions in surfaces and power of fluxes. Without the exact numeric measurements. Why? In whose interest? In the interest of the planet survival? But Semiletov already appeals to all world’s science and common sense…

    The only possible geoengineering is covering these regions to:
    1.)
    Capture this methane and USE IT instead all today’s fossil fuels. 20 Gtons mean 2 fold human energy consumption !! Burning the rest into CO2 if no other solution. 22 Gtons are already half of annual CO2 emissions, but as the greenhouse gas powerful as the entire CO2 quantity in atmosphere !!! But maybe producing also resistant plastic material to cover further the biggest eruptions, to make huge containers and store the captured gas for future. We can also leave captured methane later slowly into atmosphere, but only in such quantities, which can be degradable by natural processes. Connected with this, DO NOT FORCE the alternative technologies !!!
    2.)
    Cover the sea bottom tightly with so strong plastic that it will sustain the gas pressures of about 3 MPa (30 bars). This pressure will be the same as before under the undamaged permafrost. Only this pressure was able to keep the hydrates stable because the temperatures there don’t enable that and the pressure of the water and sediment weight are also too small. The tightly covering plastic surfaces will not be sensitive to the degradation from the bottom side, as the permafrost in last decade with the energy of the free gas below.

    After years long following the Russian research and all other information, connected with this problem, I am finishing in these months the book “Arctic Methane”. My own translation from original Slovene to English is ready for proof-read, but because of the importance of this information I am publishing this e-version free on the website link of my e-mail drive, where you can find four PDFs of the book:

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1tEXpc1OEN5e8MCwXFhKK3Kt3CDPljIc8

    Two more chapters and two appendices, which have been written in last two months, have been added in a separate file. They talk about the real degradation of methane in the troposphere, where the concentration of hydroxyl and the speed of process repetition seemed to be far too low to enable degradation of the generally accepted quantities… The calculations finally showed that the Arctic emissions will not be degraded in any part of atmosphere and they will cause strong increase of greenhouse effect, if not “healed”, respectively prevented. But in case of our cooperation the best chances to happen this are still in stratosphere…

    I apologize because this file is not yet grammatically well checked, but in my opinion the information is so important, that we must use it as soon as possible.

    Regards, Milan Malej

  3. Hi Alison,
    thank you for posting this paper. As is often the case for me I do a lot of my reading when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night. After reading this I felt hope for the first time in a very long while. Not so much hope for stopping the inevitable heating of our planet to a detrimental level but hope in us as humans to actually mobilize on a global scale. Over the years my now 24 year old son has talked of shifting consciousness on a global scale, I have found myself politely disagreeing that this is impossible however, this revolution might very well bring this shift into being. I am excited to share this paper with him and others, specifically professors I know here in the US.
    Sincerely,
    Deirdre
    Santa Monica, California

  4. You write: “We need to lobby, engage with the media, promote public debate and discussion, set up community events, take part in relevant demonstrations, and engage in peaceful civil disobedience (when necessary).” But this does not suffice. We have to change society. That means we have to change the laws how society is functioning. So we have to make structural adjustments, work on deeper structural change. The whole media-system has to be changed. It is a matter of property rights. In a democracy there needs to be very good information for everyone. Most people right now do not get the information that is needed. The present mass media – system in private hands does not fit to a democracy. Less so where just rich people and big corporations are behind it. That is those people who are mainly responsible for climate change. That is not democracy. But für solving the climate crisis we need good information and democracy. Therefore the system has to be changed. It has to be made clear that is has to be changed and why. Everybody should know. We need enlightenment.

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