The Thin Blue Ribbon

Climate scientists see what others don’t: that the planet – if we make no adjustments – faces dramatic and destructive changes. Many climate scientists suffer from depression, from PTSD, from resignation, from despair. Then there’s Piers Sellers – a climatologist and former astronaut. In December 2015, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer – and barely a year later, on December 23, 2016 he passed away.

Those months after his diagnosis, however, were not filled with despair. Facing his own mortality during that time – paradoxically – reignited his hope. This is Sellers’ story, completed in the months while Piers was still alive and broadcast as part of WBEZ Chicago’s Heat of the Moment series on climate change. I produced it, Alex Kotlowitz reports.


Portrait of Astronaut Piers Sellers