GDB6 | If informing is not enough, how should scientists engage to accelerate the social transformation required by climate change and biodiversity collapse?
If informing is not enough, how should scientists engage to accelerate the social transformation required by climate change and biodiversity collapse?
Convener: Riccardo Riva | Co-conveners: Odin Marc, Marthe WensECSECS
| Fri, 19 Apr, 14:00–15:45 (CEST)
Room E1
Fri, 14:00
Numerous geoscientists are producing and disseminating knowledge about climate change and contemporary environmental degradation to increasingly wider audiences, from civil society to policymakers. This knowledge is notably gathered in alarming reports by scientific institutions such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and it indicates that rapid and radical transformations of our societies are simply vital.

Still, ongoing efforts to trigger such transformations, whether by political, economic, or civil society stakeholders, often fall short of the urgent actions recommended. It has increasingly been suggested that putting most efforts into ever-improving knowledge and communication is a strategy that can only address part of the obvious gap between Science and the required societal change (see review articles by Stoddard et al., 2021 and Oreskes, 2022).

In light on this, and given the emergencies clearly informed by scientific consensus, we contend that the adequate question for a great debate is not whether scientists should engage more into facing the crisis, but how they should do it. Specifically, which forms of engagement are suitable for scientists if they acknowledge that a) science must be effective at the policy level and b) that informing is simply not enough? Should they enter the political arena (as citizens or as scientists)? With which type of collectives, communities, and with which strategy? Should they prioritize legitimacy or legality? Answering these questions requires assessing and discussing both the benefits (i.e., effects in terms of radical transformation of the society, for example with disinvestment from Universities and banks from the fossil fuel industry), and costs (i.e., potential backlash against scientist credibility or against the autonomy -financial or political- of scientific institutions) of scientific engagement in our era.

Oreskes, N.: The trouble with the supply-side model of science, Proc.Indian Natl. Sci. Acad., 88, 824–828,, 2022.
Stoddard, I., et al.: Three Decades of Climate Mitigation: Why Haven’t We Bent the Global Emissions Curve?, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 46, 653–689,, 2021.

This GDB is part of a series of events about engagement, co-organized during EGU 2024 by scientists active in Scientist Rebellion, including a social dinner (Tue) and a EOS session (Mon). All details here :

Session assets

Session materials

Programme: Fri, 19 Apr | Room E1

Chairpersons: Odin Marc, Marthe Wens, Riccardo Riva


  • Sonia Seneviratne, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Julia Steinberger, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Augustin Fragnière, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • oscar Berglund, Bristol, United Kingdom