Health psychology and climate change: humanity's most existential crisis

The effects of the climate crisis also impact human mental health

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Health psychology and climate change: humanity's most existential crisis
© Uriel Sinai / Stringer Getty Images

One of the most insidious effects of the climate crisis concerns the negative effects on the mental health of human beings. We talk about anthropic activity as the main cause of the climate crisis and the resulting global warming.

The climate and environmental crisis leads to the destruction of ecosystems and biomes essential to our beloved planet. It has a destructive impact on flora and fauna as well as side effects on our mental health.

While on the one hand the climate and environmental crisis has a disastrous impact on our planet, this reflects on our daily lives in various ways, which can potentially lead us to have mental health problems, fundamentally caused by our actions. Like a dog chasing its own tail.

Workers© Uriel Sinai / Stringer Getty Images

Climate crisis impact on mental health

The study: Health psychology and climate change: time to address humanity's most existential crisis, published on the Health psychology review, attempted to do a retrospective on this topic.

"Climate change is an ongoing and escalating health emergency. It threatens the health and wellbeing of billions of people, through extreme weather events, displacement, food insecurity, pathogenic diseases, societal destabilization, and armed conflict.

Climate change dwarfs all other challenges studied by health psychologists. The greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change disproportionately originate from the actions of wealthy populations in the Global North and are tied to excessive energy use and overconsumption driven by the pursuit of economic growth.

Addressing this crisis requires significant societal transformations and individual behavior change Most of these changes will benefit not only the stability of the climate but will yield significant public health co-benefits. Because of their unique expertise and skills, health psychologists are urgently needed in crafting climate change mitigation responses.

We propose specific ways in which health psychologists at all career stages can contribute, within the spheres of research, teaching, and policy making, and within organizations and as private citizens.

As health psychologists, we cannot sit back and leave climate change to climate scientists. Climate change is a health emergency that results from human behavior; hence it is in our power and responsibility to address it," explained the researchers.