Climate change and mental health

Climate change debates seem to threaten mental health at times, but this is a different angle, on the effects of extreme weather events related to climate change on mental health.

Ronald Fischer, from the School of Psychology at Victoria University (I think it’s still called that) has given a lecture on this.

Newsroom: What climate change could do to mental health

Heatwaves and other extreme weather events caused by climate change could have profound implications for personality traits and mental health, Ronald Fischer warned in his inaugural public lecture as a Professor of Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington.

Referencing an article published earlier this year in Scientific Reports, an online journal from the publisher of Nature, Fischer spoke about research showing that people with the same genetic make-up might have very different personalities depending on the climate where they live.

The article, based on research by Fischer, Victoria University of Wellington Master’s student Anna Lee and Dr Machteld Verzijden from Aarhus University in Denmark, says the impact on personality of genes regulating dopamine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain, is most pronounced in climatically stressful environments.

“If you are in a challenging climate and your genetic system is not as efficient in processing rewards or regulating potential challenges, then you might feel more stressed and more likely to be unwell,” said Fischer in his lecture.

“On the other hand, if you have a system that is not so well off but you live in an environment where life is very chilled out, there’s no challenge, so basically there shouldn’t be a strong effect on how you feel.”

He warned: “If you have followed the news – for example the incredible heatwaves in Europe – what kind of challenges will we see in the near future when climate becomes more extreme and we have to create more mental health services for people who might need that?”

An interesting question.

If we have more and worse ‘extreme weather events’ people will get more stressed, during those events and for some people adversely effected by things like flood and wind damage, those stresses can have longer effects.

On the other hand there is also the potential for less stress.

Driving on frosty streets, especially when trying to get to work at the time on a winter morning when frosts can be at their worst, can be quite stressful, as can the occasional snowstorm. We have had five consecutive unusually non-severe winters in Dunedin, and very few frost stress mornings.

People could also stress unnecessarily over possible future problems that don’t eventuate.

Or if are not suitably prepared and we get unexpected weather severity it could raise stress levels.

Then there’s the stress of getting your next house insurance bill that has escalated due to perceived climate change risks.

Sit comfortably, breathe gently, then debate.

27 Comments

  1. Gerrit

     /  August 21, 2018

    Problem is not the climate or extreme events but people having less resilience, adaptability and capability to any sort of change.

    These climate events have occurred many times in the past and will occur again in the future.

    What has changed is the peoples ability to adept to change.

    And we have many more academic wasters pontificating about our current inability to change to pile on the guilt.

    In the past when rising sea levels threatened people they build dykes to protect themselves, now facing rising sea levels they hand wring in despair and gnash their teeth in anguish.

    Same with extreme heat and bush fires, go out and do something (clear the bush line around populated areas). There was a reason the early Queensland settlers build their houses on stilts with wide covered verandas. Made the houses cool. Now they build concrete pad foundations and no eaves yet complain about heat.

    But the underlying problem, that creates these anguished souls, wont be addressed. The planet is over populated and needs at least a 50% cull of the human species.

    Address that and the ability to move away from, or conquer the adversities,is much easier.

    • robertguyton

       /  August 21, 2018

      This man-made climate change we are experiencing the early stages of now, is an adversity that won’t be “conquered” by much of humanity, Imo. My concern, with regards the effects on the mental health of humans affected by the rough stuff ahead (and now) is that it will manifest as despair and depression on a global scale. When the realisation fully hits, that we’ve boxed ourselves in by our gas-creating behaviours, there will be more than just a sinking feeling felt across the global human community; keep your chin up, everyone; most people won’t be able to. Imo.

      • Gerrit

         /  August 21, 2018

        It does not need to be conquered, people need to gear up to alter their circumstances to suit. It suggests a naive superiority complex by humans the think they can control climate. Has never happened and wont happen in the future.

        Long term the climate will cull many and the remaining climate adoptees can restart the next cycle.

        There could be easily be had an argument to accelerate climate change and start the inevitable cull early..

        • Griff.

           /  August 21, 2018

          I

          It suggests a naive superiority complex by humans the think they can control climate

          We have dug up mega tonnes of hydro carbons and burnt them.
          The resulting by product CO2 is changing the climate.
          This is a scientific reality known for over a hundred years.
          As long as we continue to emit greenhouse gasses we will continue to disrupt the climate .No amount of denial from nutters will change these facts. As we can and will find alternative sources for energy we are presently choosing to change the climate knowing the repercussions.

          • admiralvonspee

             /  August 21, 2018

            No amount of denial from nutters will change these facts.

            No amount of alarmist nonsense will change the fact that every prediction over that same hundred years has spectacularly failed to materialise.

            • Griff.

               /  August 21, 2018

              ROFL
              yess
              What is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence .
              But
              Here is some predictions from published science rather than the depths of your ignorance .

              Hansen et al. 1981

              Hansen, J., D. Johnson, A. Lacis, S. Lebedeff, P. Lee, D. Rind, and G. Russell, 1981: Climate impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Science, 213, 957-966, doi:10.1126/science.213.4511.957.

              The global temperature rose 0.2°C between the middle 1960s and 1980, yielding a warming of 0.4°C in the past century. This temperature increase is consistent with the calculated effect due to measured increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Variations of volcanic aerosols and possibly solar luminosity appear to be primary causes of observed fluctuations about the mean trend of increasing temperature. It is shown that the anthropogenic carbon dioxide warming should emerge from the noise level of natural climate variability by the end of the century, and there is a high probability of warming in the 1980s. Potential effects on climate in the 21st century include the creation of drought-prone regions in North America and central Asia as part of a shifting of climatic zones, erosion of the West Antarctic ice sheet with a consequent worldwide rise in sea level, and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage.

              Northwest Passage. book your cruises today
              We are inviting you to set sail for the Far North, well beyond the Arctic Circle, to a legendary, highly coveted maritime route: the Northwest Passage, the only possible shipping route between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
              https://en.ponant.com/cruises/the-arctic-the-northwest-passage-s270818-kn0645-2

              Erosion of the West Antarctic ice sheet
              Satellite measurements by ESA’s CryoSat-2 revealed that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is losing more than 150 cubic kilometres (36 cubic miles) of ice each year. The loss is especially pronounced at grounding lines, the area where the floating ice shelf meets the part resting on bedrock, and hence affects the ice shelf stability and flow rates.[8]
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Antarctic_Ice_Sheet

              The creation of drought-prone regions in North America
              http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

              And central Asia
              Drought in Northern China Is Worst on Record, Officials Say

    • PartisanZ

       /  August 21, 2018

      Paradoxically Gerrit, the very same economic system you no doubt uphold and champion has caused both the population growth and ‘safety and security neuroses’* you now decry …

      Not to mention the same economics has also caused the climate change …

      Your answer – Kill off half the people …

      One of the most telling comments about Capitalism I’ve ever had the misfortune to read.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 21, 2018

    If you don’t read or watch climate alarmism you will suffer much less stress.

    • robertguyton

       /  August 21, 2018

      I don’t suffer from climate change news related stress. There are people who cope with the over-whelming anxiety that the realisation of what climate change might mean, by denying it exists at all, but that’s natural too, in any population: there are ostriches even in the human community.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  August 21, 2018

        More people recognise that climate is always changing and relative to historic variations nothing much is really happening.

        • Griff.

           /  August 21, 2018

          • David

             /  August 21, 2018

            Who,s CPI. Why not put adjust for population growth it should at least adjust for GDP growth which has been 10% in China alone for over a decade although slowing lately. Why not adjust from moving from a more agrarian economy in much of the world to a more urban based one. Adjust it for net income increases for insurance premiums.
            And who did the graph in the first place and how they managed to capture the closed off communist countries in 1980.

    • Zedd

       /  August 21, 2018

      the ‘ostrich syndrome’ again from C-C deniers :/ 😦

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  August 21, 2018

        People don’t deny CC, they deny that man can change it completely.

  3. Gezza

     /  August 21, 2018

    My money is on the bacteria doing the best out of all of us.

    • robertguyton

       /  August 21, 2018

      Backing the bugs? Might as well; bacteria have done best to date.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 21, 2018

    Meanwhile Australia scraps its Paris Accord targets citing need for cheap energy. Fantasy meets reality

    • Griff.

       /  August 21, 2018

      How endearing a childish rebuttal.
      AKA Nah nah nah.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  August 21, 2018

        Your speciality being unable to cope with any contrary opinion. Get over it.

        • Griff.

           /  August 21, 2018

          Yess alan
          Its not my contrary opinion Alan as I have pointed out untold times .
          Trying to make out it is only me you dispute is your mental gymnastics denying how nutty your world view is .

          These organizations are only a partial list of who you have a difference of opinion with.

          Academia Chilena de Ciencias, Chile
          Academia das Ciencias de Lisboa, Portugal
          Academia de Ciencias de la República Dominicana
          Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales de Venezuela
          Academia de Ciencias Medicas, Fisicas y Naturales de Guatemala
          Academia Mexicana de Ciencias,Mexico
          Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Bolivia
          Academia Nacional de Ciencias del Peru
          Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
          Académie des Sciences, France
          Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada
          Academy of Athens
          Academy of Science of Mozambique
          Academy of Science of South Africa
          Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS)
          Academy of Sciences Malaysia
          Academy of Sciences of Moldova
          Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
          Academy of Sciences of the Islamic Republic of Iran
          Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
          Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand
          Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy
          Africa Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science
          African Academy of Sciences
          Albanian Academy of Sciences
          Amazon Environmental Research Institute
          American Academy of Pediatrics
          American Anthropological Association
          American Association for the Advancement of Science
          American Association of State Climatologists (AASC)
          American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians
          American Astronomical Society
          American Chemical Society
          American College of Preventive Medicine
          American Fisheries Society
          American Geophysical Union
          American Institute of Biological Sciences
          American Institute of Physics
          American Meteorological Society
          American Physical Society
          American Public Health Association
          American Quaternary Association
          American Society for Microbiology
          American Society of Agronomy
          American Society of Civil Engineers
          American Society of Plant Biologists
          American Statistical Association
          Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
          Australian Academy of Science
          Australian Bureau of Meteorology
          Australian Coral Reef Society
          Australian Institute of Marine Science
          Australian Institute of Physics
          Australian Marine Sciences Association
          Australian Medical Association
          Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
          Bangladesh Academy of Sciences
          Botanical Society of America
          Brazilian Academy of Sciences
          British Antarctic Survey
          Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
          California Academy of Sciences
          Cameroon Academy of Sciences
          Canadian Association of Physicists
          Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
          Canadian Geophysical Union
          Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
          Canadian Society of Soil Science
          Canadian Society of Zoologists
          Caribbean Academy of Sciences views
          Center for International Forestry Research
          Chinese Academy of Sciences
          Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences
          Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (Australia)
          Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
          Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences
          Crop Science Society of America
          Cuban Academy of Sciences
          Delegation of the Finnish Academies of Science and Letters
          Ecological Society of America
          Ecological Society of Australia
          Environmental Protection Agency
          European Academy of Sciences and Arts
          European Federation of Geologists
          European Geosciences Union
          European Physical Society
          European Science Foundation
          Federation of American Scientists
          French Academy of Sciences
          Geological Society of America
          Geological Society of Australia
          Geological Society of London
          Georgian Academy of Sciences
          German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina
          Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences
          Indian National Science Academy
          Indonesian Academy of Sciences
          Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
          Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology
          Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand
          Institution of Mechanical Engineers, UK
          InterAcademy Council
          International Alliance of Research Universities
          International Arctic Science Committee
          International Association for Great Lakes Research
          International Council for Science
          International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences
          International Research Institute for Climate and Society
          International Union for Quaternary Research
          International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
          International Union of Pure and Applied Physics
          Islamic World Academy of Sciences
          Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
          Kenya National Academy of Sciences
          Korean Academy of Science and Technology
          Kosovo Academy of Sciences and Arts
          l’Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
          Latin American Academy of Sciences
          Latvian Academy of Sciences
          Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
          Madagascar National Academy of Arts, Letters, and Sciences
          Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology
          Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts
          National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, Argentina
          National Academy of Sciences of Armenia
          National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic
          National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka
          National Academy of Sciences, United States of America
          National Aeronautics and Space Administration
          National Association of Geoscience Teachers
          National Association of State Foresters
          National Center for Atmospheric Research
          National Council of Engineers Australia
          National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, New Zealand
          National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
          National Research Council
          National Science Foundation
          Natural England
          Natural Environment Research Council, UK
          Natural Science Collections Alliance
          Network of African Science Academies
          New York Academy of Sciences
          Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences
          Nigerian Academy of Sciences
          Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters
          Oklahoma Climatological Survey
          Organization of Biological Field Stations
          Pakistan Academy of Sciences
          Palestine Academy for Science and Technology
          Pew Center on Global Climate Change
          Polish Academy of Sciences
          Romanian Academy
          Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium
          Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Spain
          Royal Astronomical Society, UK
          Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
          Royal Irish Academy
          Royal Meteorological Society (UK)
          Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
          Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
          Royal Scientific Society of Jordan
          Royal Society of Canada
          Royal Society of Chemistry, UK
          Royal Society of the United Kingdom
          Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
          Russian Academy of Sciences
          Science and Technology, Australia
          Science Council of Japan
          Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
          Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics
          Scripps Institution of Oceanography
          Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
          Slovak Academy of Sciences
          Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
          Society for Ecological Restoration International
          Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
          Society of American Foresters
          Society of Biology (UK)
          Society of Systematic Biologists
          Soil Science Society of America
          Sudan Academy of Sciences
          Sudanese National Academy of Science
          Tanzania Academy of Sciences
          The Wildlife Society (international)
          Turkish Academy of Sciences
          Uganda National Academy of Sciences
          Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities
          United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
          University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
          Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
          Woods Hole Research Center
          World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
          World Federation of Public Health Associations
          World Forestry Congress
          World Health Organization
          World Meteorological Organization
          Zambia Academy of Sciences
          Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences

          It is the worlds scienfic establishments position that you dispute .
          Guess what that makes you?

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 21, 2018

            99.9% of those have no more expertise in climate science than you do and probably far less interest. The list is pointless. As was once “A Hundred Authors Against Einstein”. Ill-informed numbers are not science, they are politics.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 21, 2018

              Oh, and I might as well repeat that the statement most of them signed up to is so vague and general that most climate sceptics could agree with it.

            • Griff.

               /  August 21, 2018

              Mental contortions so you can continue to support your fantasy world view .
              How totally smeggin surprising. ….Not.

            • Griff.

               /  August 21, 2018

              So you agree with these Alan?

              U.S. National Academy of Sciences
              “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” (2005)11

              American Physical Society
              “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” (2007)8

              American Geophysical Union
              “Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.” (Adopted 2003, revised and reaffirmed 2007, 2012, 2013)5

              American Chemical Society
              “Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.” (2004)4

              American Association for the Advancement of Science
              “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.” (2006)3

              joint statement.
              American Association for the Advancement of Science
              American Chemical Society American Geophysical Union
              American Institute of Biological Sciences American Meteorological
              Society American Society of Agronomy American Society of Plant
              Biologists American Statistical Association Association of Ecosystem
              Research Centers Botanical Society of America Crop Science Society of
              America Ecological Society of America Natural Science Collections
              Alliance Organization of Biological Field Stations Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Society of Systematic Biologists Soil Science Society ofAmerica University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

              Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is
              occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the
              greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.
              These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence,
              and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of
              the vast body of peer-reviewed science. Moreover, there is strong
              evidence that ongoing climate change will have broad impacts on
              society, including the global economy and on the environment. For the
              United States, climate change impacts include sea level rise for coastal
              states, greater threats of extreme weather events, and increased risk of
              regional water scarcity, urban heat waves, western wildfires, and the
              disturbance of biological systems throughout the country. The severity
              of climate change impacts is expected to increase substantially in the
              coming decades.1
              If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions
              of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced. In addition,
              adaptation will be necessary to address those impacts that are already
              unavoidable. Adaptation efforts include improved infrastructure design,
              more sustainable management of water and other natural resources,
              modified agricultural practices, and improved emergency responses to
              storms, floods, fires and heat waves.

              I can find many other strong statements from organizations that do contain expertise well above my own limited understanding .

              No you dont agree with any of these you just refuse to let reality enter your fantasy world view so make up bullshit to convince your self .
              That is a mental problem my poor self deluded friend.

            • Corky

               /  August 21, 2018

              These scientists have said that the observed warming is more likely to be attributable to natural causes than to human activities. Their views on climate change are usually described in more detail in their biographical articles.

              Cook et al have been discredited. There’s way more names in Wiki

              Khabibullo Abdusamatov, astrophysicist at Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences
              Sallie Baliunas, retired astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.Timothy Ball, historical climatologist, and retired professor of geography at the University of Winnipeg.
              Ian Clark, hydrogeologist, professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa.[
              Vincent Courtillot, geophysicist, member of the French Academy of Sciences.
              Doug Edmeades, PhD., soil scientist, officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.[
              David Douglass, solid-state physicist, professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester
              Don Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology, Western Washington University.
              William Happer, physicist specializing in optics and spectroscopy; emeritus professor, Princeton University.
              Ole Humlum, professor of geology at the University of Oslo.
              Wibjörn Karlén, professor emeritus of geography and geology at the University of Stockholm
              William Kininmonth, meteorologist, former Australian delegate to World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology.
              David Legates, associate professor of geography and director of the Center for Climatic Research, University of Delaware.
              Anthony Lupo, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Missouri.
              Jennifer Marohasy, an Australian biologist, former director of the Australian Environment Foundation.
              Tad Murty, oceanographer; adjunct professor, Departments of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa
              Tim Patterson, paleoclimatologist and professor of geology at Carleton University in Canada.
              Ian Plimer, professor emeritus of mining geology, the University of Adelaide.
              Arthur B. Robinson, American politician, biochemist and former faculty member at the University of California, San Diego.
              Murry Salby, atmospheric scientist, former professor at Macquarie University and University of Colorado
              Nicola Scafetta, research scientist in the physics department at Duke University
              Tom Segalstad, geologist; associate professor at University of Oslo
              Nir Shaviv, professor of physics focusing on astrophysics and climate science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
              Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia.
              Willie Soon, astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
              Roy Spencer, meteorologist; principal research scientist, University of Alabama in Huntsville.
              Henrik Svensmark, physicist, Danish National Space Center.
              George H. Taylor, retired director of the Oregon Climate Service at Oregon State University.
              Jan Veizer, environmental geochemist, professor emeritus from University of Ottawa