Cli­mate change fears spawn ‘eco­log­i­cal grief’

PressReader - Tke Channel - Cli­mate change fears spawn ‘eco­log­i­cal grief’
Cana­di­ans are in­creas­ingly show­ing symp­toms of post-trau­matic stress, “eco­log­i­cal grief ” and anx­i­ety re­lated to the ef­fects of cli­mate change, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port.The im­pact of cli­mate change on men­tal health is some­thing re­searchers have only re­cently be­gun to study and ev­i­dence is be­gin­ning to mount. It is part of un­der­stand­ing a chang­ing cli­mate as a loom­ing pub­lic health cri­sis.“Food in­se­cu­rity, post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der, pop­u­la­tion dis­place­ment, trauma, car­diores­pi­ra­tory im­pacts, and even deaths be­cause of wild­fires, floods, storms, heat waves and re­lated poor air qual­ity are some of the health con­cerns felt in Canada in the past few months alone,” said Dr. Court­ney Howard, lead author of the Lancet Count­down re­port on Canada re­leased Wed­nes­day.“The lack of progress by our gov­ern­ments is af­fect­ing us to­day and will in­creas­ingly put pub­lic health in­fra­struc­ture at risk,” she said.The re­port cites grow­ing ev­i­dence, much of it the re­sult of re­search done in Canada, about not only the phys­i­cal, but also the men­tal health af­fects of cli­mate change.They in­clude eco-anx­i­ety, eco­log­i­cal grief and some­thing called so­lastal­gia, de­scribed as “feel­ing home­sick when you are at home.” The word, coined by Aus­tralian philoso­pher Glenn A. Al­brecht, specif­i­cally refers to en­vi­ron­men­tal pain and is re­lated to an Inuit word that refers to a friend be­hav­ing in an un­fa­mil­iar way.Re­searchers in Canada’s North have de­scribed some of those im­pacts in peo­ple whose land­scape is rapidly chang­ing, in­clud­ing the Inuit.Cli­mate change, which re­sults in ex­treme heat waves, un­usual for­est fires and other di­rect im­pacts, also in­creases sui­cide risk among some, Howard said.The Lancet Count­down 2018 Re­port, sup­ported by the Cana­dian Pub­lic Health As­so­ci­a­tion and the Cana­dian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, was re­leased at the same time as an in­ter­na­tional re­port on health and cli­mate change. The Cana­dian re­port in­cludes rec­om­men­da­tions for pol­icy-mak­ers — in­clud­ing putting a price on car­bon.Car­bon pric­ing, said Howard, is the best tool avail­able for tack­ling the pub­lic health is­sues re­sult­ing from cli­mate change. She com­pared it to ef­forts to re­duce to­bacco con­sump­tion.“We know that it works be­cause we have seen it work when it comes to phas­ing out to­bacco.”The re­port fo­cuses on some of the ef­fects of cli­mate change seen in the far North, the im­pact of for­est fires on peo­ple in Western Canada and the ef­fect of re­cent heat waves in south­ern Canada. Dozens of deaths in Que­bec this sum­mer were at­trib­uted to an ex­tended heat wave.Among the re­port’s other rec­om­men­da­tions are that Canada stan­dard­ize re­port­ing of heat-re­lated ill­nesses and death and gen­er­ate a pub­lic health plan to min­i­mize the health im­pacts of heat now and in the fu­ture.The re­port comes at a time when some Cana­dian politi­cians are re­ject­ing car­bon pric­ing and dire warn­ings about cli­mate change are in­creas­ing.On­tario ended its cap and trade pro­gram un­der the re­cently elected Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment and the pre­miers of On­tario and Saskatchewan are fight­ing plans by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce a car­bon tax. On­tario is ex­pected to re­lease a cli­mate plan Thurs­day.Mean­while, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, whose gov­ern­ment has loos­ened en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, says he does not be­lieve a dire cli­mate change re­port re­leased by his gov­ern­ment last week.Some of the men­tal health im­pacts of cli­mate change are di­rectly re­lated to phys­i­cal ef­fects. Ex­treme for­est fires around Yel­lowknife in 2014 led to peo­ple feel­ing lonely, iso­lated and anx­ious be­cause of their in­abil­ity to get out­side and do things like berry pick­ing and walk­ing, Howard said.But anx­i­ety can re­late to fear of the fu­ture and feel­ings of help­less­ness in the face of ap­proach­ing calamity, she said.Tak­ing ac­tion to re­duce green­house gases, she said, as the U.K. has done with its 2008 Cli­mate Change Act, can re­duce anx­i­ety. Green­house gas emis­sions in the U.K. have been re­duced sig­nif­i­cantly dur­ing that time.In Canada, which is home to some of the most vis­i­ble im­pacts of cli­mate change in the Arc­tic, green­house gas emis­sions are steadily in­creas­ing.“I think what we are see­ing hap­pen in Canada is we have gone from this place where sci­en­tists are telling us about cli­mate change to where we are feel­ing cli­mate change.”We know that it works be­cause we have seen it work when it comes to phas­ing out to­bacco.

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