Cambridge academics have exchanged conflicting views on climate protestLouis Ashworth for Varsity

A Cambridge geography professor has urged climate scientists to avoid engaging in climate activism, while an English professor has struck back, arguing in favour of protest.

Ulf Büntgen, writing in the journal npj Climate Action, expressed his concern about the increasing trend of climate scientists becoming climate activists.

Büntgen, a professor at Cambridge’s Geography department, claimed that scholars should approach their studies without holding vested interests in the outcomes.

He also voiced his worry about activists who “pretend to be scientists,” suggesting that this can be a “misleading form of manipulation,” that could “diminish academic credibility” for the field as a whole.

Büntgen claimed scholars selectively use information or excessively blame issues on human-caused warming, claiming that it could cause “potential conflicts”. He also argued for the need for “self-critique and a diversity of viewpoints”.

Despite these concerns, Büntgen claimed that he has “no problem with scholars taking public positions on climate issues,” but was instead concerned about “selctively” choosing information in research.

These claims have caused major conflict within the academic community, with Michael Mann of Pennsylvania University dubbing them “superficial” and “naive”.


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Professor Jason Scott-Warren, Director of Studies in English at Gonville & Caius and active participant in climate action echoed these concerns, telling Varsity: “Some climate scientists seem not to have registered that the time for keeping their heads down is over.”

“We are in the endgame and they have a moral duty to uphold the importance of disruptive nonviolent activism and to engage in it themselves. Thankfully many of them are doing just that,” he said

Scott-Warren has headed an open letter campaign calling for the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, to condemn fossil fuel companies. The letter, which has received over 2,600 signatures, condemned the industry’s lobbying efforts.