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Extinction Rebellion member and University of Kent lecturer calls for civil disobedience

A university lecturer has called on climate scientists to embrace protest and civil disobedience.

Dr Charlie Gardner, who lectures in conservation biology at the University of Kent in Canterbury, is also a member of the environmental activism group Extinction Rebellion.

Dr Gardner attended the Extinction Rebellion blockade in London earlier this year
Dr Gardner attended the Extinction Rebellion blockade in London earlier this year

He even referred to protesters who get themselves arrested as part of peaceful demonstrations as "heroes".

He said: "The fact that some people are prepared to make such a big sacrifice, that they are putting themselves in a position of arrest, very clearly illustrates just how big an issue this is.

"And absolutely every one of those people, I consider them to be a hero of our times."

Dr Gardner co-published a journal article in September calling on people in the scientific community to join the climate protests happening all over the world.

The article has been read and shared thousands of times, and according to one online statistics site is currently in the top 5% of most read scientific research articles on the internet.

Dr Gardner is a lecturer in conservation biology at the University of Kent
Dr Gardner is a lecturer in conservation biology at the University of Kent

Dr Gardner explains historically scientists have not got involved in protesting as there is a concern it could affect their scientific objectivity.

He believes climate professionals are in the best position to rally for change and put pressure on governments and big business.

"We provide information to the policymakers," he said. "And it's up to the policymakers to act."

Despite his views on civil disobedience and protest, the University of Kent lecturer said he would not be encouraging his students to put themselves in a position of being arrested.

The University of Kent were contacted for comment on the position of students taking part in civil disobedience protests.

Listen to Dr Gardner discuss ways local councils can combat climate change in the KM Community Podcast

Last month Dr Gardner was a guest on the KM Community podcast, discussing the steps local councils need to take to live up to their climate emergency pledges.

On Saturday, September 21, Extinction Rebellion are planning to blockade Dover Eastern Docks, including two of the the primary exit roads into the port.

The group has reportedly liaised with police in the area, but warns the actions could cause major disruption.

Dr Gardner dismissed the complaints of people who are affected by such protests.

Dr Gardner has called on local councils to plant more trees to help reverse climate change pollution
Dr Gardner has called on local councils to plant more trees to help reverse climate change pollution

He said: "Some members of the public will say 'yeah, this is unfair on us, you're causing us disruption, you're making it harder for me to do my shopping', or 'you're making it harder for me to do my work'.

"I think of those complaints, as a bit like complaining about a fire alarm waking you up.

"It wakes you up, it forces you to get out of bed and it forces you to go out of the house and stand about in the cold.

"But it is also essential for you to have any chance of putting that fire out. And we are the fire alarm."

Although he will be attending the International Rebellion event in London in October, Dr Gardner was unsure whether he would decide to get himself arrested.

"I'm not committed 100% to getting arrested, but I think if it came to it, I would be prepared to do so."

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