Scientists 'must be allowed to cry' about destruction of nature

Scientists 'must be allowed to cry' about destruction of nature
A coral rubblefield in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, severely damaged by illegal dynamite fishing. Credit: Tim Gordon

Scientists witnessing the destruction of the natural world must be supported and "allowed to cry", researchers say.

In a letter published in the journal Science, three leading researchers say it is "dangerously misguided" to assume scientists are dispassionate observers.

They say many scientists experience "strong grief responses" to the current ecological crisis, and there are profound risks to ignoring this .

Tim Gordon, lead author of the letter and a from the University of Exeter, said "We're documenting the destruction of the world's most beautiful and valuable ecosystems, and it's impossible to remain emotionally detached.

"When you spend your life studying places like the Great Barrier Reef or the Arctic ice caps, and then watch them bleach into rubble fields or melt into the sea, it hits you really hard."

Co-writer Professor Andy Radford, of the University of Bristol, added: "The emotional burden of this kind of research should not be underestimated.

"Grief, when unaddressed, can cloud judgment, inhibit creativity and engender a sense that there is no way forward."

The letter calls on academic institutions to support environmental scientists, allowing them to address their ecological grief professionally and emerge stronger from traumatic experiences to discover new insights about the natural world.

Scientists 'must be allowed to cry' about destruction of nature
Dead coral skeletons and degraded reefs on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Pictures taken in 2016 & 2017 after the most severe mass bleaching ever recorded. Credit: Tim Gordon

The authors fear that environmental scientists tend to respond to degradation of the natural world by ignoring, suppressing or denying the resulting painful emotions while at work.

But they propose that much can be learned from professions where distressing events are common, such as healthcare, emergency services and the military.

In these fields, well-defined strategies exist for employees to anticipate and manage their emotional distress, including training, debriefing, support and counselling after disturbing events.

Dr. Steve Simpson of the University of Exeter, also a co-writer of the letter, said: "Instead of ignoring or suppressing our grief, environmental scientists should be acknowledging, accepting and working through it.

"In doing so, we can use grief to strengthen our resolve and find ways to understand and protect ecosystems that still have a chance of survival in our rapidly changing world."

Scientists 'must be allowed to cry' about destruction of nature
Tim Gordon diving on a degraded reef on Australia's northern Great Barrier Reef. Credit: University of Exeter

The ends by suggesting that better psychological support for might improve their ability to think creatively about the future.

Gordon said: "If we're serious about finding any sort of future for our , we need to avoid getting trapped in cycles of .

"We need to allow ourselves to cry—and then see beyond our tears."


Explore further

Mourning a dead glacier: How grieving over ecological destruction can help us face the climate crisis

More information: Science (2019). DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz2422
Journal information: Science

Citation: Scientists 'must be allowed to cry' about destruction of nature (2019, October 10) retrieved 20 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-10-scientists-destruction-nature.html
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User comments

Oct 10, 2019
Or we could decide who's responsible, wait for them in the dark, and then give 'em a bloody good hiding.

Oct 10, 2019
Crying is idiocy. Revenge is required.

Oct 10, 2019
Meanwhile the earth is getting greener. "The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States."

Increasing Co2 is the answer

https://www.nasa....g-earth/

Oct 10, 2019
Crying is idiocy. Revenge is required.
says VendicarKahn

Aha The latest iteration of VendicarDecarian, I presume. I have read most of your abusive comments from the physorg past. Others have referred to you as Scott Nudds of Canada who disappeared one day from physorg. Have you returned to take up where you left off?

Oct 10, 2019
"The letter ends by suggesting that better psychological support for environmental scientists might improve their ability to think creatively about the future."

But they seem to be on opioids as it is when they take all of the world's temperatures as a whole, and add it up to get an average, which is ~62.1*F. currently. Then they call it "GLOBAL CLIMATE" or Global Warming, which in the lexicon of the average human means 'the whole world'.

Oct 10, 2019
@SEU

"But they seem to be on opioids as it is when they take all of the world's temperatures as a whole, and add it up to get an average, which is ~62.1*F. currently. Then they call it "GLOBAL CLIMATE" or Global Warming, which in the lexicon of the average human means 'the whole world'."

What?


Oct 10, 2019
"Am I my brother's keeper?"

Oct 10, 2019
jesus F , i don't know wether to laugh or cry , what next ?

Oct 10, 2019
Meanwhile the earth is getting greener. "The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States."

Increasing Co2 is the answer

Actually, the CO2 fertilization effect has been reversed and the earth is no longer greening: https://phys.org/...ide.html or, for the full paper, https://advances....eaax1396 . Initial results show this is due to global warming/climate change.

Oct 10, 2019
Meanwhile the earth is getting greener. "The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States."

Increasing Co2 is the answer

Actually, the CO2 fertilization effect has been reversed and the earth is no longer greening: https://phys.org/...ide.html . Initial results show this is due to global warming/climate change.


Are you saying that CO2 as plant food is no longer being utilised by plants and trees and, in turn, emitting O2 for humans and animals to breathe?
Well, Ocasio-Cortezz might be correct and that everyone will be dead within 12 years. Without that O2 emitted from plants and trees, you will soon be gasping for air. Are you certain that this a world-wide kind of thing?

Oct 11, 2019
Seriously, WTF.

Oct 11, 2019
the earth is no longer greening: https://phys.org/...ide.html . Initial results show this is due to global warming/climate change.


LIAR. What BS links. Neither link can make a connection.

Oct 11, 2019
When you are an EMT you are affected by what you see. Why should scientists not be affected by what they see?

It's not like "oh well...I'll document this. It doesn't matter to me"...because it does matter. When you see the destruction of *your own species* happening before your eyes it's not something that leaves you cold.

Oct 13, 2019
It's not like "oh well...I'll document this. It doesn't matter to me"...because it does matter. When you see the destruction of *your own species* happening before your eyes it's not something that leaves you cold.


THINGS ARE BETTER THEN EVER BEFORE IN HUMAN HISTORY!

You are TRULY delusional.

Oct 13, 2019
Tell it to flooded farmers in the US Midwest. Not to mention Miami property flooded with sewage. Got 3.3 billion to pay for Miami and several more billion to pay the farmers?

Oct 13, 2019
THINGS ARE BETTER THEN EVER BEFORE IN HUMAN HISTORY!

What about "they are going to get much, much worse - to the point where humans will no longer be able to live anywhere on this planet" don't you understand?

Oct 13, 2019
''What about "they are going to get much, much worse - to the point where humans will no longer be able to live anywhere on this planet" don't you understand?''

yes ! exactly

https://www.indep...711.html

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