Bethesda, Maryland - Thousands of early-career researchers at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have kick-started the process of forming a union. They are calling on the agency — the world’s largest biomedical funder — to raise pay and improve benefits, as well as to bolster its policies and procedures on harassment and excessive workloads. About 150 of these researchers rallied on the NIH’s campus in Bethesda, Maryland, on 1 June to celebrate filing their union petition with the US Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) in nearby Washington DC. The filing kicks off a months-long process that they hope will end in the union being officially recognized by the US government and the NIH.
Ahead of the COP27 UN climate summit, hundreds of scientists are calling on the PR firm in charge of the event’s communications, Hill+Knowlton, to cut ties with its fossil fuel industry clients, which include major oil companies Aramco, ExxonMobil, and Shell as well as an industry coalition called the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. “These clients have not taken the fundamental steps necessary to address the climate emergency and sharply rein in fossil fuels,” states an open letter to Hill+Knowlton signed by over 420 scientists. “Instead, they have used Hill+Knowlton and other PR agencies to spin, delay, and mislead, in order to continue expanding fossil fuel production and thereby increasing heat-trapping emissions.”
Five Scientists for Extinction Rebellion on trial for criminal damage have been acquitted by a magistrates’ court in London. Dr Stuart Capstick, an environmental social scientist, Dr Abi Perrin, a biologist, Emma Smart, an ecologist, Dr Aaron Thierry, an earth-system scientist and Dr Caroline Vincent, a retired scientist and consultant, were facing a charge of criminal damage to the value of £2,000. They were part of a group of nine scientists who pasted scientific papers, used chalk spray and glued themselves to the windows of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience to highlight the danger posed by new oil and gas exploration.   They were joined by a dozen other scientists and assisted in their actions by doctors and health professionals.
Over two dozen scientists on Wednesday glued scientific papers and their own hands to the windows of a U.K. government building in London to demand an end to fossil fuels. The demonstration was part of a wave of Extinction Rebellion (XR) actions that launched last weekend and are scheduled through Sunday—a protest series that follows a worldwide mobilization of scientists last week, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest concerning report. With his left hand glued to the U.K. Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), ecologist Aaron Thierry explained Tuesday that "I'm having to do this because our government is basically ignoring all the evidence and we have tried all the rational, normal, evidence-based policy approaches and they're just not acting according to it."
More than 1,000 scientists across the globe chained themselves to the doors of oil-friendly banks, blocked bridges, and occupied the steps of government buildings on Wednesday to send an urgent message to the international community: The ecological crisis is accelerating, and only a "climate revolution" will be enough to avert catastrophe. What organizers described as "the world's largest-ever scientist-led civil disobedience campaign" kicked off just days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report detailing the grim state of efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C by century's end, a target set by the Paris accord. As one of the report's authors put it during a press call earlier this week, "Unless there are immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, 1.5°C is beyond reach."
Three scientists associated with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are discouraged. New Zealanders Bruce C. Glavovic and Timothy F. Smith and Australian Iain White criticize governments for not doing enough about climate change. They are calling upon fellow IPCC scientists to no longer conduct research on climate change. “More scientific reports, another set of charts,” Glavovic exclaims; “I mean, seriously, what difference is that going to make?” Hundreds of IPCC scientists provide the United Nations periodically with reports on adverse impacts of climate change. The most recent report, issued in February, details rising seas, terrible droughts, atypical weather events, thawing permafrost, dying forests, and massive displacement of populations.
The arrest of MIT engineering professor Gang Chen on Jan. 14 has drawn attention to the role of China in U.S. science and technology system. It’s not the first time suspicions have fallen on a Chinese-born scientist – Chen is a naturalized U.S. citizen – for work they conduct openly in the United States. The charges against Gang Chen – wire fraud, failing to report a foreign bank account and a false statement on a tax return – stem from failing to disclose Chinese funding for his research. MIT called the allegations “distressing,” and the school’s president and 100 faculty members are defending a Chinese university’s investment in MIT research. No evidence of spying has been made public, but a Department of Justice criminal complaint expressed suspicions that Chen’s loyalty may not be aligned with American interests.
The tide of reckoning on systemic racism and police brutality that has been sweeping through institutions — including scientific ones — has reached universities’ normally reclusive mathematics departments. A group of mathematicians in the United States has written a letter calling for their colleagues to stop collaborating with police because of the widely documented disparities in how US law-enforcement agencies treat people of different races and ethnicities. They concentrate their criticism on predictive policing, a maths-based technique aimed at stopping crime before it occurs. The letter, dated June, 15 is addressed to the trade journal Notices of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), and comes in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and around the world, sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May. More than 1,400 researchers have now joined the call.