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Piers Sellers, a NASA astronaut and climate scientist, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times this past weekend after being diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
— Douglas H. Wheelock (@Astro_Wheels) January 17, 2016
“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 multidecadal lens. At some level 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?
After handling the immediate business associated with the medical news—informing family, friends, work; tidying up some finances; putting out stacks of unread New York Times Book Reviews to recycle; and throwing a large “Limited Edition” holiday party, complete with butlers, I had some time to sit at my kitchen table and draw up the bucket list.”
Sellers concluded that, rather than summiting Everest or traveling to exotic beaches, he wanted to spend his final days with loved ones and getting back to work. In his lifetime, Sellers accomplished a lot. He visited the International Space Station three times, walked in space six times and logged more than 600 hours in space. Currently, Sellers is managing a team of scientists doing research on Earth’s climate and weather patterns. Ultimately, he said he’s happy with how his life turned out and he’s hopeful for the planet’s future.
“As for me, I’ve no complaints. I’m very grateful for the experiences I’ve had on this planet. As an astronaut I spacewalked 220 miles above the Earth. Floating alongside the International Space Station, I watched hurricanes cartwheel across oceans, the Amazon snake its way to the sea through a brilliant green carpet of forest, and gigantic nighttime thunderstorms flash and flare for hundreds of miles along the Equator. From this God’s-eye-view, I saw how fragile and infinitely precious the Earth is. I’m hopeful for its future. And so, I’m going to work tomorrow.”
It was a very moving letter from a man facing a terminal illness, and yet, it took no time at all for climate deniers to lambaste Sellers, ThinkProgress reported. Breitbart, a conservative news outlet, completely misrepresented Sellers by running this piece: NASA Chief: Global Warming Is Real Because I Have Cancer.
“A senior scientist at NASA has announced in the New York Times that he has terminal cancer. This is sad,” Breitbart’s James Delingpole wrote. “What’s sadder, though, is that he has chosen to exploit his personal tragedy for the purposes of promoting climate change alarmism.”
Wow. Climate doubters are attacking dying astronaut, climate scientist. Just stunning. https://t.co/oM9hQ5Inwu
— seth borenstein (@borenbears) January 17, 2016
Motl wrote on his blog:
“Sellers’ text is so unbelievably detached from ‘what you would expect to be important’ that I could imagine that it was—and who know, maybe even his disease was—masterminded by the climate alarmist sect in order to create a moral symbol. Maybe the true believers have gathered and picked a martyr who will strengthen the idea that the climate alarmists aren’t just a bunch of dishonest parasitic hypocritical crackpots and scum but that they also include many believers who are ready to place their totally irrational faith above their own lives.”
Ironically, Sellers said in his op-ed that 2015 “may also be seen in hindsight as the year of the Death of Denial. Globally speaking, most policy makers now trust the scientific evidence and predictions, even as they grapple with ways to respond to the problem,” he said. “And most Americans—70 percent, according to a recent Monmouth University poll—believe that the climate is changing. So perhaps now we can move on to the really hard part of this whole business.”
His words echo those of President Obama’s in his State of the Union address last week.
The president said:
“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”
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