What does a dedicated climate scientist do when he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer? Get closer to loved ones, and get back to work.
“I’m a climate scientist who has just been told I have Stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” writes NASA scientist and former astronaut Piers J. Sellers in yesterday’s New York Times. “This diagnosis puts me in an interesting position. I’ve spent much of my professional life thinking about the science of climate change, which is best viewed through a multi-decadal lens.”
- Concise headlines. Original content. Timely news and views from a select group of opinion leaders. Special extras.
- Everything you need, nothing you don’t.
- The Weekender: The climate news you need.
Until now, “I was sure that, even at my present age of 60, I would live to see the most critical part of the problem, and its possible solutions, play out in my lifetime. Now that my personal horizon has been steeply foreshortened, I was forced to decide how to spend my remaining time. Was continuing to think about climate change worth the bother?”
The whole article is a compelling, evocative read—but the short story is Sellers’ conclusion that he’s got his priorities right.
“Very quickly, I found out that I had no desire to jostle with wealthy tourists on Mount Everest, or fight for some yardage on a beautiful and exclusive beach, or all those other things one toys with on a boring January afternoon,” he writes. “Instead, I concluded that all I really wanted to do was spend more time with the people I know and love, and get back to my office as quickly as possible.”