The largely unacknowledged impact of climate change on mental health

By Eva Gifford, Robert Gifford | September 2, 2016

In all of the coverage of climate change in the popular press, relatively little attention has been paid to one aspect: mental health. Rising seawaters, increasingly strong storms, and more ferocious droughts caused by climate change are not only devastating to physical infrastructure but also affect human beings in other ways as well: people lose their homes, their jobs, their family members, and their communities. Researchers have found that climate change can cause not only posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the trauma of displacement from extreme weather events such as Hurricane Katrina but also “pre-traumatic” stress disorder, or, moderate to extreme anxiety about a looming crisis. This paper describes some of these effects, who is most vulnerable to them, some of the social factors involved, and offers some suggestions for possible solutions.

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