Environmental Scientists Want Help Coping With Their Grief
By Nexus Media
“We’re recording the most severe destruction of the natural world in human history. It’s really important that we are able to work with those feelings.”
By Marlene Cimons
Scientist Tim Gordon studies how rising temperatures are damaging corals in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where intense cyclones and warm waters have caused extensive damage in recent years. What he sees brings him to tears.
“They used to be some of the most colorful, vibrant, bustling, noisy ecosystems in the world, but now many of them are eerily quiet, empty gray rubble fields,” Gordon said. “It’s haunting. The place is a ghost of its former self.”
At times when diving at the reef, he stops for a minute and just floats, gazing helplessly at the wreckage around him. “It gets quite overwhelming,” said Gordon, a marine biologist at the University of Exeter. “This sense of complete powerlessness sets in — this used to be the most beautiful place in the world, but now it’s crumbling into ruins around me.”
Gordon was, and is, experiencing something that the public does not typically expect from scientists — grief.
Nexus Media News is an editorially independent climate change news service affiliated with Climate Nexus, a nonprofit working to improve public understanding of climate change. Our publishing partners include Popular Science, Fast Company, Teen Vogue and PBS NewsHour.