One psychologist who works with climate scientists told Richardson they suffer from “pre-traumatic stress,” the overwhelming sense of anger, panic, and “obsessive-intrusive thoughts” that results when your work every day is to chart a planetary future that looks increasingly apocalyptic. Some climatologists merely report depression and feelings of hopelessness. Others, resigned to our shared fate, have written what amount to survival guides for a sort of Mad Max dystopian future where civilization has broken down under the pressures of resource scarcity and habitat erosion.
This kind of doom and gloom is not shared across the board, but nearly all climate scientists harbor serious doubts about the industrialized (and industrializing) world’s willingness to meet the challenges we face, which of course compounds their trauma. And perhaps the biggest indicator of that unwillingness is the constant attacks climate scientists endure at the hands of climate-change deniers — attacks that leave their own psychological bruises.