The report, which was commissioned under President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, made use of analytics as it took a look at existing studies and broke down the numerous effects climate change may have on people and the world around them. These include effects on their physical health due to poor air quality, extreme temperatures, and illnesses, as well as extreme weather events.
Regarding people’s mental health, the government report suggests climate change may play a role in that as well. Extreme weather events and other natural disasters may result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for some people, while others may be affected by depression, anxiety, and even increases in violent behaviors. These could all be facilitated by continued climate change and its ability to cause extreme weather.
The report cited several catastrophic weather events and their aftermath, including Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. For the first event, rates of homicide and suicide doubled in Miami-Dade County, and in the second, the rate of people with suicidal thoughts more than doubled, increasing from 2.8 percent to 6.4 percent.
“The mental health impacts of extreme weather events can be expected to increase as more people experience the stress – and often trauma – of these disasters,” the report noted.
Climate change was also mentioned as a cause of general concern among people. Last year, a survey showed that about one-half of all Americans expressed worries regarding climate change, and 36 percent of them felt that global warming could personally harm them.
The report also indicated that media’s view of climate change is one of the main drivers that influences perception toward the phenomenon, and thusly psychological responses to it. These responses include general stress and anxiety, and could extend to feelings of helplessness, distress, guilt, a sense of poor self-control, and a sense of poor self-esteem.