Beyond Storms & Droughts: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change

Categories: Big picture
Published on: July 28, 2014

ecoAmerica and the American Psychological Association / June 2014

Beyond StormsThe third National Climate Assessment, published in May 2014, went a step beyond weather-related impacts. It also emphasized the impacts that climate change will have on society, including how climate change is expected to disrupt food production, damage infrastructure, displace communities, and put stress on our water supplies across the nation.

Governments and communities are starting to take note of these changes—many of which are already happening—and are taking steps to respond. Planners and policymakers are allocating funds to shore up infrastructure, and devising ways to maintain crop yields even in the face of changing agricultural conditions.

But the impacts of climate change won’t stop at structures and systems. Climate change will also have a profound impact on human psychology and well-being, a topic that has received scant attention from researchers, policymakers, and communicators.

This is why we’ve produced this report, Beyond Storms and Droughts: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change. It chronicles the likely psychological impacts of climate change, from stress, anxiety and depression, to loss of community identity, to increases in violence and aggression. It discusses the pathways through which these and other impacts on human well-being will arise, why some communities will be hit harder than others, and how psychological impacts will interact with physical health.