NASA scientist arrested after chaining himself to Chase Bank as part of global climate protests

protestor in lab coat carried by two police officers
Police officers remove an activist from the Scientist Rebellion group blocking a bridge in central Berlin, Germany, April 6, 2022.Christian Mang/Reuters

A NASA scientist and three others were arrested in Los Angeles on Wednesday after chaining themselves to the doors of a Chase Bank office building.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has invested more money in fossil fuels than any other bank, according to a 2020 report from the Sierra Club and other climate advocacy organizations. In addition to calling for immediate action to address the climate crisis, the protestors on Wednesday were calling for the company to divest from coal, oil, and gas.

Peter Kalmus, who studies biological systems and climate change at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, spoke to a crowd that assembled shortly after another protestor helped Kalmus chain himself to the handle of the bank's glass door. The event was livestreamed on Facebook.

protest in front of chase bank with four people in white lab coats chained to doors
Demonstrators in front of a Chase Bank building in Los Angeles, California, April 6, 2022. Peter Kalmus is chained to the door, the second person from the right in a white lab coat.Courtesy of Scientist Rebellion

"I'm willing to take a risk for this gorgeous planet, for my sons," Kalmus said, his voice cracking as he mentioned his children.

Covering his face for a moment, he continued, "We've been trying to warn you guys for so many decades that we're heading towards a fucking catastrophe, and we've been being ignored. The scientists of the world are being ignored, and it's got to stop. We're not joking. We're not lying. We're not exaggerating."

peter kalmus climate scientist speaking with microphone
Peter Kalmus speaks onstage at an event in Hollywood, California, on January 13, 2019.Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Alongside Kalmus, chained to the bank's doors, were physicist Greg Spooner, science educator Allan Chornack, and engineer Eric Gill.

Nearly four hours later, more than two dozen police officers blocked off the road, removed the four protestors, and carried them away in a van.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. declined to comment on Wednesday's events.

Scientists are risking arrest in cities across the planet

protestors in white lab coats wearing a chain stand in a line with red smoke flares and signs
A Scientist Rebellion protest in Berlin, Germany, April 6, 2022.Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty Images

The actions of Kalmus and his companions were part of more than a dozen protests staged in cities across the globe this week, through a coalition called Scientist Rebellion, which is a branch of Extinction Rebellion dedicated to scientists taking actions of civil disobedience to advocate for climate action. This week's protests followed the release of the United Nations' latest climate report.

In Berlin, scientists glued their hands to the road to block a bridge. In Madrid, protestors threw red paint on the steps of the Spanish Parliament. In London, some threw fake oil onto the facade of Shell's UK headquarters. In Sydney, five protestors, including a biology professor, were arrested after laying in the street to block traffic in pouring rain. In Washington, DC, people chained themselves to the fence surrounding the White House.

police carry protestors in white lab coats away from spanish parliament steps covered in red paint
Police officers try to prevent Scientist Rebellion activists from throwing red paint at the exterior of the Spanish Parliament to protest climate change, in Madrid, Spain, on April 6, 2022.Susana Vera/Reuters

The report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released Monday concluded that the world must peak emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide in less than three years to have a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial standard.

Surpassing that temperature increase would have catastrophic consequences beyond the climate change that's already driving extreme wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, and floods across the planet. The report found that the world's governments and corporations are far from meeting the emission-reduction goals that would help limit that extreme weather.

gloved police officer uses paintbrush to remove glue holding protestor's hand to asphalt road
A police officer removes glue from the hand of an activist from the Scientist Rebellion climate change group blocking a bridge in central Berlin, Germany, April 6, 2022.Christian Mang/Reuters

"Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals, but the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels," António Guterres, the UN secretary general, said in a press briefing on Monday.

"It's now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C," Jim Skea, co-chair of the IPCC group that wrote the new report, said in a press release. "Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible."

Researchers representing Scientist Rebellion also participated in protests surrounding the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, last year, where 15 scientists were arrested.

"This planet is everything, and it's time we start acting like it," Kalmus said.

This story was updated with new information on April 8, 2022.

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