Five students (three from the US, two from Brazil) were arrested last month while doing paleoclimate research in Brazil. They were collecting sediment cores from lakes and wetlands, in order to understand past climate change in western Brazil. The charges were based on Brazilian laws dealing with unauthorized extraction of mineral resources. (The group had research permits which they believed to be valid, but apparently they did not cover all members of the group.) The students have been released on bail, but the American students have to stay in Brazil until the legal process is complete – which could take months or years.
Arizona Geology has a full explanation from Dr. Andrew Cohen, co-director of the project. He has drafted a letter to Brazilian authorities, explaining the nature of the work and urging the authorities to allow the students to return to the US. He is looking for people who are willing to co-sign the letter. If you want to co-sign it, send an e-mail to Dr. Cohen. If you know people who would be willing to co-sign (especially people with prestigious affiliations and officers of scientific societies), please pass on the information.
(And if you’re a blogger in the climate science community, could you help make sure that the news is spread to climate scientists as well?)