Report warns of society-wide increase in mental illness due to climate change and severe weather

I grew up an hour from Joplin, Missouri, and spent a lot of my formative years heading over there for high school debate-and-drama contests, martial arts lessons, and more. I know people in Joplin and the surrounding small towns. My wife and I still drive through Joplin when traveling home for the holidays. So this year’s epic Joplin tornado hit home for us even more than it did for the millions of Americans who watched the news coverage from afar with horror.

Maybe that’s why the news about a newly released report from Australia’s Climate Institute that links the current and future rise of more severe weather to a rise in mental and emotional illness leaves me fairly thunderstruck (no pun intended). Or maybe it’s that plus several additional considerations, including the facts that 1) my family and I relocated from Missouri to Texas in 2008 partly to escape the epic recent surge (over the past decade) in tornado outbreaks and catastrophically severe winter weather 2) my sister just rode out historic Hurricane Irene in Salem, Massachusetts 3) one of my closest friends was displaced from his home in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and 4) in our new home state of Texas, my family and I are currently enduring historic, record-shattering heat, drought, and wildfires, with local news reported dominated by talk of associated crop losses, burned homes, and impending electricity blackouts due to overstrained grids. This comes on the heels of a 2010-2011 winter that brought record cold temperatures down here.

These things are beginning to hit home, and so the details of this new report about the collective psychological effects of widespread severe weather brought about by climate change make for fairly grim reading. Still, better forewarned than forearmed.

Rates of mental illnesses including depression and post-traumatic stress will increase as a result of climate change, a report to be released today says. The paper, prepared for the Climate Institute, says loss of social cohesion in the wake of severe weather events related to climate change could be linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse … The report, A Climate of Suffering: The Real Cost of Living with Inaction on Climate Change, called the past 15 years a “preview of life under unrestrained global warming” … The paper suggests a possible link between Australia’s recent decade-long drought and climate change. It points to a breakdown of social cohesion caused by loss of work and associated stability, adding that the suicide rate in rural communities rose by 8 per cent. The report also looks at mental health in the aftermath of major weather events possibly linked to climate change … [According to the executive director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute, Professor Ian Hickie,] “When we talk about the next 50 years and what are going to be the big drivers at the community level of mental health costs, one we need to factor in are severe weather events, catastrophic weather events.”

Full story at The Sydney Morning Herald.

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on August 31, 2011, in Environment & Ecology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I bet every weak minded person is going crazy if they accept the propaganda that they are killing the planet just by living and contributing to the rising CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Its easy to fix their problem though.

    Lets try reminding them that CO2 is a friendly gas, without which we all die and anyway increase of concentration as a portion of the atmosphere is only about 0.0213% since 1960.

    We could also remind them of some facts about this gas which will assure them that it is not a polluting gas:-.

    A scientist untainted by the AGW lobby would say that a concentration of about 1,000ppmv would be beneficial to life on earth, this being the concentration that Glass House growers prefer, http://api.ning.com/files/X-APctmkiwvgEI5fT6iiGjWFvKNX*cWuzeO4qmDVbgA_/Greenhouses.CarbonDioxideInGreenhouses.pdf
    Our exhaled breath is about 4500ppmv http://www.biotopics.co.uk/humans/inhaledexhaled.html

    Up to 5000ppmv is acceptable for work places (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.).
    Up to 3000ppmv for residences (Canadian exposure guideline for residential buildings)

    Medical oxygen has between 10,000 ppmv and 20,000 ppmv in it.
    http://www.bocsds.com/uk/sds/medical/10_carbondioxide_oxygen.pdf
    http://www.bocsds.com/uk/sds/medical/10_carbondioxide_oxygen.pdf

    Currently our atmosphere has about 390 ppmv of CO2 in it.

    Furthermore, some scientists credit the extra CO2 in our atmosphere as the reason for our increased food production.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209205202.htm

    And of course we could remind them that the world has been warmer than now before, at least three of those times withing human history.

    They might be able to read a bit about that on my blog.

    All this may assure them that their lives are not in vain and they can then go out and try to live normal lives again.

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

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