- The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment
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finding 8.3 : climate-change-threats-result-mental-health-consequences-social-impacts
Many people will experience adverse mental health outcomes and social impacts from the threat of climate change, the perceived direct experience of climate change, and changes to one’s local environment [High Confidence]. Media and popular culture representations of climate change influence stress responses and mental health and well-being [Medium Confidence].
This finding is from chapter 8 of The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment.
Process for developing key messages: The chapter was developed through technical discussions of relevant evidence and expert deliberation by the report authors at several workshops, teleconferences, and email exchanges. The authors considered inputs and comments submitted by the public, the National Academies of Sciences, and Federal agencies. For additional information on the overall report process, see Appendices 2–3.
Areas of focus for the Mental Health and Well-Being chapter were determined based on the most relevant available scientific literature relating to mental health, wellness, and climate change, as well as the mental health impacts of events associated with climate change. Much of the evidence on these impacts has been compiled in countries outside the United States; however, the scenarios are similar and the evidence directly relevant to the situation in the United States, and thus this literature has been considered in the chapter. The evidence-base on mental health and wellness following extreme weather disasters is both well-established and relevant to climate change. The existence of highly relevant scientific literature on specific concerns directly influenced by climate change—such as the effects of extreme heat, stress associated with the threat and perception of climate change, and special population risks—resulted in the inclusion of these more targeted topics. Although significant scientific literature for resilience exists, in-depth discussions of adaptation, coping, and treatment approaches are outside the scope of this chapter, but are discussed in brief in the Resilience and Recovery section.
Description of evidence base: A strong combination of mental health epidemiological research, social science-based national survey research, social and clinical psychology, environmental risk perception research, and disaster mental health research supports the finding that the threat of climate change and perceptions of its related physical environment changes and extreme events together constitute a significant environmental stressor.1497a2db-b62f-4bcb-8e53-f22692c416b4 9fcf79bd-416e-4ede-9e00-262b39095cab 9467cf71-753b-49a7-891b-04da863e71ad 9ce52883-f68f-48dc-875f-88f932e8f916 efd704ca-586c-4ba0-a447-4bcb800c6792 a7957dc8-1ead-4328-8250-a695f5f62c30 1033040b-fcff-419e-ad20-8a3a7b0c5013 1dad28b6-fe27-4e03-9630-8fda36305ec5 bd32de10-ebf5-44eb-9f99-4857be1f5ad4 40b214b0-1829-4411-9371-4aa06136f493 ca70d728-88f3-44ae-aa3b-e67710ea350b de7e26bd-2384-4c8f-ae73-96417407d9f5 7ad54684-f950-46c7-a03a-92535cea27bf 6488df22-3c4d-4530-b988-10e3e5b9ab3e c55d46b4-accb-418b-84fe-cda125422327 a2ef9cb1-3891-49f7-aa87-7d232b1bc47b
A large number of recent studies that have evaluated responses to the hybrid risk (risk that is part natural and part human-caused) of climate change impacts specifically reveal that many individuals experience a range of adverse psychological responses.34647534-8863-4fde-b8d0-f24bcdc4fcc6 dc84de0a-35da-4c00-a6e1-a0ba66dcaea0 f66b946f-c672-4a4b-8f71-1b05738e029e 8eccc146-c874-49ff-ba79-160c0e12c158 9845a991-d58b-409b-91b9-670cc383d030 2a7f3b81-6429-4752-904e-7f5fa3686d29 947e6dc0-63cf-4a74-947b-b24b9f2ab9c9 169b6908-d301-4da7-aeee-43cce986c86c b8589fd7-68ca-4045-aadf-f7be886662ed 26a30317-5e80-4272-9f1e-eb6d2a800a4d
New information and remaining uncertainties: Major uncertainties derive from the distinction between people’s objective and subjective exposure and experience of environmental threats. The multimedia information environment to which individuals are exposed and its coverage of climate change and related events can contribute to complicated public perceptions and strong emotional responses related to climate change as a social, environmental, and political issue.9fcf79bd-416e-4ede-9e00-262b39095cab ee00465f-610d-41e8-9505-77214f0d31bd 88a64708-aabf-40b4-8677-0021edda378f If media exposure is inaccurate or discouraging, that could cause undue stress. However, accurate risk information dissemination can result in adaptive and preventive individual and collective action.dc84de0a-35da-4c00-a6e1-a0ba66dcaea0 f66b946f-c672-4a4b-8f71-1b05738e029e a9f1a3ec-7f21-4d47-9a4c-84f0029ff6a2 d9ae20d0-403b-4871-b0f8-e0ed301e841b e360e51f-21af-42d7-b4b3-293e10615681 56e6c997-9cde-4f3e-8dd7-e6e737a5a157 The relative dearth of long term impact assessment and monitoring programs relating to the psychosocial impacts of climate change necessitates reliance on smaller-scale, typically cross-sectional studies and research surveys that are often limited by their use of single-item indicators rather than standardized, climate change-specific, multi-item psychometric measures.
Assessment of confidence based on evidence: The large body of well-documented scientific evidence provides high confidence that adverse mental health outcomes and social impacts can result from the threat of climate change, the perceived experience of climate change,and changes to one’s local environment. Emerging evidence suggests there is medium confidence that media representations of climate change influence stress responses and mental health and well-being.
- The effects of environmental change on individuals and groups: Some neglected issues in stress research (1033040b)
- World Social Science Report 2013: Changing Global Environments (1497a2db)
- Handbook of the Psychology of Coping: New Research (169b6908)
- Environmental Psychology (1dad28b6)
- Collective guilt mediates the effect of beliefs about global warming on willingness to engage in mitigation behavior (26a30317)
- Population risk perceptions of global warming in Australia (2a7f3b81)
- The psychological impacts of global climate change. (34647534)
- Cross‐national comparisons of image associations with “global warming” and “climate change” among laypeople in the United States of America and Great Britain (40b214b0)
- Climate change in the British press: The role of the visual (56e6c997)
- The Feeling of Risk: New Perspectives on Risk Perception (6488df22)
- Risk, Media and Stigma: Understanding Public Challenges to Modern Science and Technology (7ad54684)
- A public health frame arouses hopeful emotions about climate change (88a64708)
- Adapting to and coping with the threat and impacts of climate change. (8eccc146)
- Psychology's contributions to understanding and addressing global climate change (9467cf71)
- Public Risk Perceptions, Understandings and Responses To Climate Change and Natural Disasters in Australia, 2010 and 2011 (947e6dc0)
- Hope, despair and transformation: climate change and the promotion of mental health and wellbeing (9845a991)
- Think global, act local? The relevance of place attachments and place identities in a climate changed world (9ce52883)
- How the public engages with global warming: A social representations approach (9fcf79bd)
- Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society (a2ef9cb1)
- Climate Change and Human Well-Being: Global Challenges and Opportunities (a7957dc8)
- Polarizing news? Representations of threat and efficacy in leading US newspapers' coverage of climate change (a9f1a3ec)
- Do concerns about climate change lead to distress? (b8589fd7)
- Climate Change Risk Perception and Policy Preferences: The Role of Affect, Imagery, and Values (bd32de10)
- Three decades of disasters: A review of disaster-specific literature from 1977-2009 (c55d46b4)
- Risk as feelings. (ca70d728)
- Meltdown: Climate Change, Natural Disasters and other Catastrophes - Fears and Concerns for the Future (d9ae20d0)
- Climate Change and Public Health (dc84de0a)
- The Perception of Risk (de7e26bd)
- Depth Psychology, Disorder and Climate Change (e360e51f)
- Exploring the role of emotion in media effects: An introduction to the special issue (ee00465f)
- The Impact of the Environment on Psychiatric Disorder (efd704ca)
- Beyond storms & droughts: The psychological impacts of climate change (f66b946f)
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