How climate change affects health, from a meteorologist

While researching and writing this book at the height of the pandemic, I felt it was important to delve deeper into the subject of mental health, which is an integral part of overall well-being.

When it comes to climate change, the mere thought of our planet warming triggers feelings of anxiety, especially among young people. For those with eco-anxiety, a term described by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as “chronic fear of environmental catastrophe”, looking at pictures and watching media reports of any type of weather-related destruction can be triggering. A recent global survey of 10,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 found that 56% of them believe that “humanity is doomed”.

Mental health experts say spending time in nature, whether it’s walking, gardening or participating in an eco-friendly activity, can be helpful in dealing with eco-anxiety. When these activities are carried out in groups, there is the added benefit of potentially finding like-minded people to voice mutual climate concerns.

Scientific studies also indicate that practicing mindfulness and meditation can be beneficial in reducing the emotional anguish you may feel thinking about our climate. Even in the darkest of times, research shows that writing down what you’re grateful for can refocus attention and improve mood, too.

Teresa H. Sadler