“Catastrophic” effect of climate change on mental health claimed in new UN study
| Sarah Sloat, Inverse.com – A landmark United Nations report revealed that catastrophic events induced by climate change could become regular occurrences as soon as 2040.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts disastrous effects around the world if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at their current rate.
Previously, scientists believed these severe consequences would happen if the planet warmed by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit); now, the threshold is only 1.5 C (2.7 F).
Another related study highlights the extreme toll climate change has already taken on the human psyche, 22 years before the 2040 warning.
Short-term exposure to extreme weather, multi-year warming, and tropical cyclone exposure are all associated with worsened mental health, scientists affirm in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Our paper — when coupled with evidence that climate change may impact everyday human moods to severe outcomes like suicide — provides further evidence that exposure to heat, on average, worsens mental health outcomes,” study co-author and MIT Media Lab research scientist Nick Obradovich, Ph.D., tells Inverse.
Obradovich and his colleagues reached this conclusion by analyzing the mental health data of nearly 2 million Americans, as well as daily meteorological and climatic data taken between 2002 and 2012.
“If we push global temperature rise into the 2 degrees-plus Celsius range, the impacts on human well-being, including mental health, may be catastrophic,” he says.
Between 2002 and 2012, approximately 2 million individuals reported the state of their mental health through a CDC survey.
Each respondent was asked to report how stress, depression, and “problems with emotions” affected their mental health over a period of 30 days.
When Obradovich and his colleagues evaluated those responses alongside data concerning multi-year warming, they discovered that, on average, monthly temperatures hotter than 30 degrees Celsius — or 86 degrees Fahrenheit — were associated with more reports of mental health difficulties … Read more at Inverse.com