Invitation to Sign an Oath to the Future

The following invitation is being sent to scholars around the world in the run up to COP27 in Egypt.

Dear Scholar,

Nearly two years ago over 500 of us from over 30 countries signed a public letter to coincide with the 5th anniversary of the Paris Climate Accord. We wrote:

“As scientists and scholars from around the world, we call on policymakers to engage openly with the risk of disruption and even collapse of our societies. After five years of failing to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Accord, we must now face the consequences. While bold and fair efforts to cut emissions and naturally drawdown carbon are essential, researchers in many areas now consider societal collapse to be a credible scenario this century… Only if policymakers begin to discuss this threat of societal collapse might communities and nations begin to prepare and so reduce its likelihood, speed, severity, harm to the most vulnerable, and to nature.”

Over the last two years we have seen climate impacts worsen, emissions climb again, methane levels jump, the science become more worrying, and the political mood darken in many countries. We have also seen the ongoing commercialisation of climate responses, the public sugar-coating of problematic science, and concerted denigration of people who focus on radical economic change to prepare for inevitable disruptions. The climate summits have morphed into career fests and trade shows at the end of the world as we know it. Although we are unlikely to change the huge systems that incentivise poor responses from professionals in this field, we can commit to learn and support each other in taking a different path.

As scholars, that different path involves reconnecting with why we do the work we do, and thereby focusing on the younger generations, and supporting them for the future they are going to live within (despite so many amongst the older generations who like to dismiss that as merely young peoples’ negative thinking). That is the reason for a new public Scholars’ Oath to the Future. It will be published in newspapers around the world, and a film made of scholars reading it to their students. It will be read out at COP27 in Egypt by myself, Dr Stella Nyambura Mbau, and other signatories. It is already available in 6 languages: English, Français, Español, Pусский, 中文, Bahasa.

Please read and consider signing the Oath before the end of October and, crucially, then send it on to your colleagues (anyone with a doctorate is invited to sign).

If you are interested in stepping up your own leadership and communications in the coming months and years, then please consider joining the next free online courses that the Scholars’ Warning initiative is offering its signatories. The one for timezones of the Americas and Far East is in November (application deadline is end of September), and one for timezones of Europe and Africa is in April (apply by the end of the year).

If you are interested in more of the background to the new Oath, and what it stands in distinct opposition to, then I recommend reading a criticism of the establishment narrative on climate, which tells us that technology and capitalist leaders can fix the climate while we must remain positive and do as we are told. That narrative is becoming popular amongst ‘climate users’, who unfortunately prioritise profiting from the climate emergency in ways that promote sub-standard, unfeasible, or woefully insufficient responses. Some engage in ‘climate brightsiding’ people they think are ‘too negative’ or ‘too critical’ – including the younger generations and the most negatively affected people and regions.

If you sign the Oath, then after it is read in Egypt, we will contact you with information on follow ups, including participation in the film, and ideas for engaging young people in dialogue about the future focus from scholars. A short film of my own dialogue with young people is available.  

If you can translate this invitation letter into one of the 5 other languages that we are using (UN official languages, plus the 2022 G20 host), please paste your translation here, so people could use that to tell other scholars (as the opportunity to sign will remain open). Other translations of the Oath itself are also welcome to be posted on that page.

Professor Jem Bendell

Co-founder Scholars’ Warning

Publisher, The Deep Adaptation Quarterly