Large-Scale Study Shows Global Warming Has Adverse Effects On Mental Health

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A landmark study from researchers in the United States found that global warming might trigger an increase of mental health issues in Americans.

About 2 million people from 263 cities across the country took part in a national survey called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System ran by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey involved an assessment of the participants’ mental health over the course of 10 years (from 2002 to 2012).

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mental Health Issues From Global Warming

Experts have warned about the adverse effects of global warming such as the rising sea levels, melting ice sheets, widespread coral bleaching, an increase of hurricane activities, etc. However, according to a new study, the effects of the rising global temperature would not just be environmental.

A team of researchers led by Nick Obradovich of MIT Media Lab found that short-term exposure to extreme weather conditions and tropical cyclones, as well as the multiyear warming around the world, is associated for worsened mental health in Americans.

Participants of the study were asked about their mental health, including experiences of stress and depression. Combining the responses with meteorological data, researchers found that an average maximum temperature greater than 30 degrees Celsius can increase the probability of mental health issues by 1 percent. Meanwhile, months with an increase of precipitation can increase the probability of mental health issues by 2 percent.

The researchers extrapolated that over a 30-day period, a shift of monthly temperature from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius to greater than 30 degrees Celsius would produce 2 million individuals who suffer from mental health issues.

Natural Disasters And Mental Health Issues

Exposure to natural catastrophes such as hurricanes saw a 4 percent increase in mental health difficulties.

Previous studies have confirmed that the United States is already seeing the effects of global warming. Hurricanes are becoming stronger and more frequent, potentially exacerbating cases of mental illnesses in the United States.

This is not the first study that highlights the possible psychological effects of global warming to the population. A separate study found a link between higher temperatures and an increase of suicide rates in the United States and Mexico.

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