As a general rule, scientists are expected to keep their personal feelings to themselves. Scientific detachment is important. Objectivity is the name of the game for sound and accurate findings.
But, as Ewan Birney, a computational biologist at Cambridge, wrote in the Guardian not long ago, “The lack of a natural forum for scientists to describe their emotions in their work can lead to the mistaken view that scientists are unemotional people.” Far from it, he contends. The truth is that these are people who have a huge emotional investment in their work. After all, they have devoted their careers—their lives—to finding answers to the great questions of our time.
So, what happens when you ask scientists studying various aspects of global climate change how they really feel about it—as in, personally? As in, their own emotions?
A project called More Than Scientists did just that. And well, let’s face it: it isn’t exactly easy for scientists to shed decades of training telling them not to open up. Nonetheless, the results are powerful. When scientists do share their feelings—even just a little, tiny bit—it’s clear that they are driven by the same emotions we all feel. They are daughters, sisters, brothers, and sons. They are parents and grandparents. They are worried, and they are hopeful.
As the project leaders put it, “We aren’t just scientists inside labs and academia. We are people like you, with hopes and dreams and loved ones…. And we’re concerned. We are more than scientists. It will take more than science. It will take us all, working together, for a better future.”
Here are some excerpts. Watch the full videos here.