Climate Change And Our Health

By: Betsy Pownall

Climate change is hazardous to our health, both mentally and physically. In the article, “How does Climate Change affect Mental Health?” the American Psychological Association reports that long-term mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, suicide, aggression, and gender-based violence are impacted by rising temperatures and extreme weather events. 

Studies have shown that even some people who have not been directly affected by a climate disaster are experiencing “climate anxiety,” which is defined as an overwhelming sense of fear, sadness, and dread in the face of global warming. A 2020 APA survey found that 56% of U.S. adults said climate change is the most important issue facing the world today. 

Nearly half of young adults ages 18 to 34 year-olds reported feeling anxiety over climate change on a daily basis. 

While the problem can feel unwieldy, many people find an increased sense of hope and security by taking action to understand, adapt to, or to mitigate the effects of climate change at an individual and community level. 

On an individual level, people can learn about what is happening, what could happen and prepare for climate-related events. Helpful individual actions can include:

  • Making and practicing household emergency plans
  • Engaging in self-care and healthy habits
  • Build and maintain social networks with family, friends, neighbors, and climate advocates
  • Participate in policy and advocacy efforts to combat climate change

Distress about climate change can be reduced by:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Engaging in mindfulness practices like grounding, body scans, meditation, 
  • Identify core values that guide your work, simplify and focus on one’s choices
  • Working with others
  • Engaging in activism

(APA “Resilience and individual actions around climate distress”)

And then there are the ‘Recession Resilient’ climate-change start-ups. 

In her New York Times article “‘Recession Resilient’ Climate Start-ups Shine in Tech Downturn”, Erin Griffity reports that tech workers and investors are “flocking to start-ups that aim to combat climate change”. 

As tech companies downsize and cut jobs, a ‘wake up call’ has spurred many workers to question whether or not what they are doing is “making the world a better place”. 

Many workers are joining climate-change start-ups, as investors “pour money into the field”. While start-ups once had to work at convincing investors that their focus was important, climate change and extreme weather events have become impossible to ignore. 

“We’re actually doing work that matters”, Arebeth Pease said of her move from a tech start-up to a climate-change start-up focusing on smart home electrical panels.