Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 20, 2013

Psychological Consequences Of Global Warming

The National Wildlife Federation released a report on “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the U.S.” This peaked my interest not only in natural history but as a mental health professional.

Some of the report’s findings are:

Climate Change will become a top-of-mind worry in the future

Major Segments of U.S. Society are more psychologically vulnerable now including

  • Children will experience increasing acute stress disorders as natural disasters increase
  • Elderly and low-income will be less able to pay for need good, services and have less mobility
  • People with preëxisting mental health conditions will find fewer resources available
  • Members of military and their families may be dealing with conflicts to destabilizing economic, politically and environmental effects on fragile countries from Climate Change

The mental health system is not ready to handled the wide-spread psychological stress or climate change and there is a low first responder preparedness to handle immediate trauma of climate disaster victims

Some climate change related conditions and their psychological effects:

  • Summer heat wave – there is a relationship between rising heat and aggression
  • Coastal and river flooding – stress due displacement, loss possession and future uncertainty
  • High impact and more intense storms – PTSD, slow recovery of infrastructure, anger at government response
  • Severe Drought and reduced snow pack – despair and depression
  • Increase large-scale wildfires – anxiety and anticipation, grief from destruction
  • New Disease Threats – fear and anxiety

Suggested Solutions and Recommmendations include:

  • Mental health practitioners, first responders and primary care professionals should have comprehensive plans and guidelines for climate change; there nee to bemany well-developed
    tools and approaches to help respond to disasters and to take care of patients faced with emergencies.
  • Priority should be given to training mental health professionals who serve the most vulnerable populations. e.g., school counselors, pediatric specialists, aging specialists, public clinic staff
  • Improve the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of people suffering from climate related mental health problems
  • A rigorous estimate should be made of the cost of addressing the psychological effects of climate change vs. the costs of ignoring the problem
  • Governments should develop and deploy mental health incident response teams
  • Helpful models for positive individual and community action should be developed
  • Psychological implications of global warming should be factored into public policy development

read full report at: NWF_Psychological Effects


  1. This is a very similar topic to my blog today, Climate Change and healing. I am going to re-post this, Thank You.


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