The Obama administration released a new report claiming global warming will make mental health issues worse — the report notes even “perceived” threats from global warming will harm the mentally ill.
“Many people will experience adverse mental health outcomes and social impacts from the threat of climate change, the perceived direct experience of climate change, and changes to one’s local environment,” reads a new report released by the administration.
“Media and popular culture representations of climate change influence stress responses and mental health and well-being,” the report continues.
The report comes about three weeks before the U.S. is set to sign the United Nations’ Paris agreement, the legally-questionable treaty that President Barack Obama pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
The Paris agreement is being used by the Obama administration as justification for why Congress and the courts should not dismantle federal regulations on power plants — the main tool Obama wants to use to meet his Paris pledge.
The administration’s new report details the supposed link between global warming and public health issues, and has a whole section dedicated to how warming is expected to affect those with mental health problems, like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or even women with post-partum depression.
“A large body of established scientific evidence shows there is high confidence that people with mental illness are at greater risk for poor physical and mental health outcomes from climate change,” reads the report. “Similarly, there is high confidence that exposure to extreme heat will exacerbate such outcomes, particularly for the elderly and those who take certain prescription medications to treat their mental illnesses.”
The report even warns that temperature rise and more frequent extreme weather events could cause more suicides. The report notes that “some studies report a connection between higher temperature and suicide; with some indicating increased risk of suicide” and that “there is emergent evidence that deaths by suicide may increase above certain temperatures, suggesting hot weather may trigger impulsive and aggressive behaviors.”
Though the report does admit “more studies are needed to better understand the relationship, as negative correlations have been found, as well as no correlation at all” when it comes to suicides and hot weather.
The report also warns global warming-induced heat waves would kill tens of thousands of people every year, and air pollution problems would become worse. The administration also argues certain diseases would become more prevalent as “increases in water temperature will alter the geographic range and seasonal window of growth for harmful bacteria and algae.”
“Changes in temperatures, precipitation, and extreme events such as flooding are also expected to increase risk of foodborne illnesses from pathogens like Salmonella and E Coli,” top administration officials wrote in a blog post published by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Obama administration has been trying to draw the link between global warming and public health for years, and has even held a conference with medical professionals, urging them to warn their patients about global warming. Now, the White House is highlighting how global warming can harm your mental health.
“Given predictions of growth in the subgroup of the population who have mental health conditions and who take pharmaceuticals that sensitize them to heat, increases in the number of people experiencing related negative health outcomes due to climate change is expected to occur,” according to the new report.
What’s unclear, however, is how sound the science is behind the administration’s claims mental health problems will get worse in a warmer world.
For example, the report says there’s “high confidence that people with mental illness are at greater risk for poor physical and mental health outcomes from climate change.” But the report defines “high confidence” as only having “moderate evidence” with “several sources, some consistency, methods vary and/or documentation limited, etc.,” and a “medium consensus.”
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