The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change

"Mental health experts, practitioners and survivors of disasters, all attest to the emotional trauma and community damage from wilder weather, with a warning that worse will come without preventative climate action. Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse: these are some of the mental health costs of extreme weather events—the real costs of living without preventative action. The mental health costs of climate change manifest before, during and even long after extreme weather events (see Fig.1), and include: ...

• Direct and acute impacts, such as the trauma of bushfire, the anguish of losing loved ones to a severe weather event, or the despair that comes with prolonged drought.

• Indirect impacts, including the anxiety of watching reports of others being swept away in floods, being on constant bushfire alert or of a cyclone bearing down on a coastal community.

• Broader impacts on society, the economy and the environment, such as heat-related violence, conflict over deteriorating resources, tensions arising from displacement and migration, the loss of environmental quality, economic opportunity undermined, and the anxiety of an insecure future."

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Library Topic: Climate Change 101

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Quotes on the health impacts of global warming and climate change.

Commentary or Blog Post

There is no scientific consensus concerning global warming. The climate change predictions are based on computer models that have not been validated and are far from perfect.

the expression ‘climate change will be worse for the poor’ amounts to a much stronger argument for creating wealth than it does for the abolition of climate change.

'Global warming' is rapidly increasing Northern Hemisphere temperatures, as it does every summer, but alarmists in the media are doing their best to make it seem like summer heat waves never occurred before.

For 12 years, my colleagues and I have protested against the unsubstantiated claims that climate change is causing the disease to spread. We have failed miserably.

If the predictions of the climate modelers based on the hypothesis of anthropogenic warming were true, rising temperatures in the 21 century would save millions of lives and improve human health directly.

One such favourite claim states that climate change will lead to the rapid spread of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever and dengue, to new areas. This claim, however, slithers through scientific fact.

"Late for a party? Miss a meeting? Forget to pay your rent? Blame climate change; everyone else is doing it. From an increase in severe acne to all societal collapses since the beginning of time, just about everything gone wrong in the world today can be attributed to climate change. Here’s a list of 100 storylines blaming climate change as the problem."

The truth of the matter is, Global Warming will positively effect the health of many people around the world.

Heat-related deaths, especially in cities have steadily decline for the past fifty years despite urban warming resulting from the "heat island effect." Humans' improved ability to adapt through new technology (air-conditioning) and an abundance of energy.

Dr. Reiter was interviewed March 23 by Greg Murphy.

Whatever you think about the health and environmental impacts of global warming, it will certainly be influenced by the way you view human progress, and the current state of humanity in the world.

Physicians need to be aware of how current climate variability can affect health outcomes.

The following article, based on a chapter of Unstoppable Global Warming, provides the scientific evidence regarding warming temperatures and human health.

As climate talks wrap up in Bali, we heard from the World Health Organization that rising temperatures are also making humans less healthy as malaria spreads northwards and heatwaves become more common.

This article describes the many ways in which cold weather is more detrimental to human health than warm weather.

Climate change is already affecting the nation's public health, according to a new multi-agency report released by the Obama administration.

Studies of the relationship between air pollution and health have generated an active literature claiming that air pollution and automobile traffic cause heart attack deaths, low birthweights, spontaneous abortions, acute respiratory illness, and chronic social stress in rats.

This article puts climate change's possible health impacts in perspective. For instance, "in the year 2000, there were a total of 55.8 million deaths worldwide. Climate change may be responsible for less than 0.3% of all deaths globally.

Climate change cannot explain the growth of malaria in the highlands of East Africa, say researchers.

Indur Goklany's talk establishes the long-standing fact that cold kills more than warmth and that global warming policies cost more lives than global warming itself.

The reality is that humanity has never had it so well, and that as nations grow wealthier and develop newer and more efficient technologies, they improve their environment as well.

The Lancet report details at length how warmer temperatures will lead to so-called tropical diseases such as malaria moving northwards and to higher altitudes. But this ignores the vast range of human and ecological factors that surround disease.

Over the past year the media have reported that one possible effect of global warming will be the expansion of tropical, communicable diseases borne by rodents or parasites into the United States.

"Meteorological and ecological shifts driven by climate change are creating a slow and often unpredictable bloom of novel public health challenges across the United States. The American Public Health Association has declared climate change 'one of the most serious public health threats facing our nation,' although the precise nature of that threat remains uncertain."

Want proof of our adaptation to heat? Two extremely hot cities, Tampa and Phoenix, have virtually no heat-related mortality, despite sporting the oldest populations in our study.

This week committees in both the Senate and House of Representatives will be holding hearings on whether global warming will cause future harm to human health.

Following is a compilation of excess deaths during the winter months (compared to what occurs on average during the rest of the year) in a number of developed countries in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Chart or Graph

Mortality due to floods in 2005 may be higher than in other recent years because of floods related to hurricanes that year.

The corresponding declines for death rates (comparing their peaks with the most recent 10-year period) were 80 percent for floods, 75 percent for lightning, 95 percent for hurricanes and 92 percent for tornadoes.

Good childhood nutrition is reflected in taller adults. Icelanders must have suffered from lack of food during the Mini Ice Age: their average stature fell by two inches (see chart 9).

Interrelationships between major types of global environmental change, including climate change.

Despite any warming that may have occurred, both deaths and death rates have not increased over this period. If anything, they might have declined over this period, during which all-cause mortality increased by 28 percent.

Figure 2 shows the average annual deaths and death rates from all weather- and climate-related extreme events for each decade starting in 1900 through the eleven-year period from 2000–2010.

Figure 1 shows the average annual number of events recorded in the EM-DAT database for each 'decade' since the 1900s.

Figure 4 shows that deaths and death rates for floods, the second most important category and responsible for a third of the deaths recorded in EM-DAT for the entire period, crested in the 1930s.

Death and death rates due to extreme weather events: global and US trends, 1900-2006.

During much of the 20th Century, the deadliest extreme events were droughts, followed by floods and windstorms.

While extreme weather-related events garnish plenty of attention worldwide because of their episodic and telegenic nature, their contribution to the global mortality burden is relatively minor.

The pie chart shows the distribution of deaths for 11 hazard categories as a percent of the total 19,958 deaths due to these hazards from 1970 to 2004.

The warmest periods—the Neolithic and Bronze Ages and England in the thirteenth century—enjoyed the longest life spans of the entire record (see chart 8).

The decline of malaria in all these countries cannot be attributed to climate change because it occurred during a warming phase when temperatures were already much higher than in the Little Ice Age.

Malaria in the United States and Canada in 1882.The dark shaded areas are regions where the disease was probably endemic.

Increases in heat-related deaths are projected in cities around the nation, especially under higher emissions scenarios.

Figure 5 shows that deaths and death rates from storms have declined by 55.8% and 75.3%, respectively, after peaking in the 1970s.

Mental health experts, practitioners and survivors of disasters, all attest to the emotional trauma and community damage from wilder weather, with a warning that worse will come without preventative climate action.

In 2008, there were 108,500 'excess' deaths during the 122 days in the cold months (January to March and December; it was a leap year).

The bulk of the weather-related deaths were caused by extreme cold. In rank of importance, these were followed by extreme heat, floods, lightning, tornados, and hurricanes.

Analysis Report White Paper

This timely report addresses a big gap in the current public debate about climate change and how we should respond to it. There has been much legitimate concern about economic consequences and the risks to property, jobs and export earnings, but there has been a failure to discuss the consequences of climate change for human wellbeing and health.

How sensitive are intensively-managed and lightly-impacted ecosystems to different levels of climate change?

This volume seeks to describe the context and process of global climate change, its actual or likely impacts on health, and how human societies should respond, via both adaptation strategies to lessen impacts and collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Global warming's impact on disease is often thought to be most acute in relation to mosquito-borne diseases, since warming has the potential to expand the range of mosquitoes. But this study concludes warming will have little impact on mosquito-borne diseases.

Temperature is a causal factor in disease, but small temperature changes are unlikely to have a significant impact on the spread of disease.

A public health approach to climate change, based on the essential public health services, that extends to both clinical and population health services and emphasizes the coordination of government agencies, academia, the private sector.

Exposure to waterborne and foodborne pathogens can occur via drinking water ..., seafood ... or fresh produce .... Weather influences the transport and dissemination of these microbial agents via rainfall and runoff and the survival and/or growth through such factors as temperature.

An article examining death and death rates in correlation to global warming and extreme weather.

We study the economic impacts of climate-change-induced change in human health, viz. cardiovascular and respiratory disorders, diarrhoea, malaria, dengue fever and schistosomiasis.

The idea that CO2-induced global warming is responsible for increases in a host of human maladies has become entrenched in popular culture.

The history of the disease in England underscores the role of factors other than temperature in malaria transmission.

This technical report reviews the nature of the global problem and anticipated health effects on children and supports the recommendations in the accompanying policy statement on climate change and children's health.

In this report the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) reviews recent assertions concerning the potential adverse health effects of projected human-induced global climate change.

A somewhat warmer climate would probably reduce mortality in the United States and provide Americans with valuable benefits.

While some predict global warming will increase deaths caused by extreme temperatures, this study predicts that, in Europe, "the direct effect of the moderate warming predicted in the next 50 years would be to reduce, at least briefly, both winter mortality and total mortality."

"The only consensus over the threat of climate change that seems to exist these days is that there is no consensus. The much-heralded 2007 United Nations report on greenhouse gas emissions has served as a catalyst for lawmakers to burden traditional energy sources with regulations in favor of so-called clean energy."

Supports the claim by the World Health Organization that global climate change costs the world about 150,000 lives a year, mostly in the form of increased cases of severe weather and disease.

Would cutting greenhouse gas emissions, as the Kyoto Protocol requires, improve the health of Americans? This essay will show that the answer to all those questions is a resounding no.

One of the conundrums facing the world, which should be addressed in the course of developing climate change policies, is whether, and, if so, for how long, would a richer-but-warmer world be better for human and environmental well-being than a poorer-but-cooler world.

On the basis of current evidence, it is difficult to sustain the notion that climate change is the greatest threat to public health or the environment today. But what about the future?

Climate change is mainly projected to add to existing problems, rather than create new ones. Of particular significance are four categories of hazards to human health and safety which have frequently been cited as major reasons for controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

"In this report, we have outlined the major threats—both direct and indirect—to global health from climate change...."

"There is no convincing evidence that synthetic chemical pollutants are important as a cause of human cancer."

Climate change presents a unique challenge for economics: it is the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen.

Most of the causes of premature death have nothing to do with climate.

This study concludes that the possibility of negative health outcomes due to global warming, including health impacts from heat, extreme weather, air pollution, water and food-born diseases, and vector and rodent-born diseases, remains too uncertain to make any "definitive statement."

This study examines whether deaths and death rates due to weather-related extreme events have increased globally since the beginning of the 20th century.


Given at the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change, this talk presents a variety of information on the relationship between global warming and various health risks.

Climate change is a public health issue. ... There is growing scientific consensus that climate change may cause extreme weather events that increase the potential for disease and premature death.

Lomborg discusses the issues of hurricanes as a result of global warming. He says that there will be more damage from hurricanes because more people are living with more stuff closer to the ocean.

Climate change has multiple direct and indirect consequences for human health. Heat waves affect health directly and are projected to take an increasing toll in developed and underdeveloped nations.

Bjorn Lomborg kicked things off with an engrossing 30-minute presentation about man-made climate change and the best ways to prioritize and solve global problems ranging from water shortages to poverty to malaria.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson spoke to reporters about greenhouse gas emissions before the upcoming United Nations conference on global climate change.

This film by the documentary-maker Martin Durkin presents the arguments of scientists and commentators who don't believe that CO2 produced by human activity is the main cause of climate change.

"Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis explains the truth about global warming in his film Policy Peril: Why Global Warming Policies Are More Dangerous Than Global Warming Itself. The movie includes cameos from Heritage’s Ben Lieberman and David Kreuzter and is full of talking points to debunk the common catastrophic global warming stories you always hear."

Primary Document

This report is organized around 11 broad human health categories likely to be affected by climate change.

The question of how well the 1990 Amendments have succeeded in protecting public health and the environment from air pollution is very important.

That so many of us are here today is a recognition that the threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing.

In so many ways the problem of climate change reflects the new realities of the new century.

The Clean Air Act is the law that defines EPA's responsibilities for protecting and improving the nation's air quality and the stratospheric ozone layer.

Scientific evidence supports the view that the earth’s climate is changing. CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern.

This report summarizes the science of climate change and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future.

Throughout the world, the prevalence of some diseases and other threats to human health depend largely on local climate.

A brief overview of the likely health effects of increased temperatures and extreme weather events is provided here. Links to additional information about these and other potential health effects − such as air quality, vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, water- and food-borne diseases and mental health − appear below.

On Wednesday, April 9, Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed the warming planet, and how climate change affects the health of her citizens.

Unlike health threats caused by a particular toxin or disease pathogen, there are many ways that climate change can lead to potentially harmful health effects.

The main activity of the IPCC is to provide at regular intervals Assessment Reports of the state of knowledge on climate change. The latest one is "Climate Change 2007", the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

I can say with confidence that the conclusions across assessments have been consistent finding that, on balance, the health risks of climate change outweigh the benefits.

"The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012."

We have now reached the point where our factories and our automobiles, our furnaces and our municipal dumps are spewing more than 150 million tons of pollutants annually into the air that we breathe-almost one-half million tons a day.

In this brief presentation I restrict my comments to malaria, and emphasise four points: 1. Malaria is not an exclusively tropical disease

Here the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must develop automobile carbon dioxide (C02) emissions standards because the relationships of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses to global warming pose "a risk..."

"The natural history of mosquito-borne diseases is complex, and the interplay of climate, ecology, mosquito biology, and many other factors defies simplistic analysis. The recent resurgence of many of these diseases is a major cause for concern, but it is facile to attribute this resurgence to climate change, or to use models based on temperature to 'predict' future prevalence. In my opinion,...

In October 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new policy statement and technical report, entitled, 'Global Climate Change and Children’s Health.' ... This statement sounded a warning to pediatricians and policymakers alike.

For 40 years, the Clean Air Act has safeguarded the health of all Americans, including our most vulnerable.

"Mr. Chairman, many of today’s witnesses will speak of the specific implications of climate change that they perceive as most important for human health. Doubtless malaria will top the menu, but we fear ignorance and disinformation may as well."