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Australia Hotter temperatures and extreme weather linked to mental distress, suicide

03:00  17 october  2021
03:00  17 october  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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Extreme weather events have also been associated with increases in aggressive behavior and domestic violence.3 Exposure to extreme heat may lead to increased use of alcohol to cope with stress, increases in hospital and emergency room admissions for people with mental health or psychiatric conditions, and an increase in suicide . Some people are more vulnerable to the potential impacts of climate change, including children, the elderly, the chronically ill, people with cognitive or mobility impairments, pregnant and postpartum women, and people with mental illness.

Sound mental health—a critical facet of human wellbeing—has the potential to be undermined by climate change. Few large-scale studies have empirically examined this hypothesis. Here, we show that short-term exposure to more extreme weather , multiyear warming, and tropical cyclone exposure each We find that shifting from monthly temperatures between 25 °C and 30 °C to >30 °C increases the probability of mental health difficulties by 0.5% points, that 1°C of 5-year warming associates with a 2% point increase in the prevalence of mental health issues, and that exposure to Hurricane Katrina

Mental health experts say real action is needed on climate change, with building evidence that higher temperatures and extreme weather events including floods and droughts are linked to suicidal behaviour.

Dr Cybele Dey, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and a member of Doctors for the Environment Australia said there is a "significant level of distress" in Australian communities about climate change as well increased rates of suicidal behaviour linked to higher temperatures.

"International studies show that there's actually a clear relationship between hotter weather and increased rates of people dying from suicide," she said.

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New York, July 27 (IANS) Hotter weather increases both suicide rates and the use of depressive language on social media, says a new study that analysed half a billion tweets. The research published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that the effects of climate change could be as devastating as The team also analysed the language in over half a billion Twitter updates or tweets to further determine whether hotter temperatures affect mental well-being. They analysed, for example, whether tweets contain language such as “lonely”, “trapped” or “ suicidal ” more often during hot spells.

Sound mental health-a critical facet of human wellbeing-has the potential to be undermined by climate change. Few large-scale studies have empirically examined this hypothesis. Here, we show that short-term exposure to more extreme weather , multiyear warming, and tropical cyclone exposure each associate with worsened mental health. This narrative review examined strategies for preparedness and response to mental health impacts of three forms of climate change from a services perspective: (1) acute and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, (2) sub-acute or

The Nationals will meet on Sunday to decide whether to back a commitment for Australia to reach net zero emissions by 2050 ahead of the Prime Minister's trip to Glasgow for the United Nations climate summit next month. The Liberal party needs the support of the junior Coalition partner to sign Australia up to the climate action deadline.

Liberal MP Dr Fiona Martin, psychologist and chair of the mental health and suicide committee, said there were two main takeaways in the research: one, that climate change was driving increased extreme weather events including floods and fires, and that exposure to those events can result in psychological distress.

Dr Martin, who supports a plan and target for net zero by 2050, said this research cannot be ignored.

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Climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century. World Health Organization, 2015. Climate change is increasingly affecting human health.

The connection between mental health and weather extremes is a public health concern, but less studied to date than physical health. This exploratory study examines the mental health impacts of two kinds of weather extremes increasingly linked to climate change—summer heat waves and Children and youth are showing increasing levels of mental health distress due to the climate crisis, characterized by feelings of sadness, guilt, changes in sleep and appetite, difficulty concentrating, solastalgia, and disconnection from land. To gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between

"In order to improve the mental health of young Australians, we must have a plan and target to reduce emissions," she said.

Dr Dey said the federal government must act to reduce future harms from carbon pollution, as today's six-year-olds are already likely to live through three times as many extreme weather events as their grandparents.

"It's impacting on mental health in Australia today. So this is not something that we're waiting for. It's something that's already here. In our current path, it will get worse if things don't change," she said.

Robust studies, including a review published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, show there is a clear relationship between extreme weather, hotter temperatures, and suicidal behaviour is clear, Dr Dey said.

"The pattern is that the areas with higher what's called apparent temperature, so when you adjust the temperature for the humidity, more humid heat causes higher rates of mental health distress," she said.

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Sass and her colleagues found that psychological distress scores in high-pollution areas were 17 percent higher, even after controlling for several behavioral, socioeconomic and health factors. Sass said understanding the mechanisms by which air pollution impacts psychological distress was "It is important to note that the associations we found were not the same for all groups (or pollutants) and thus there is a need for a fuller examination into the direct and indirect ways through which air pollution acts on mental health," Sass said. The air pollution measured is called “fine particulate matter” which

Extreme weather or extreme climate events includes unexpected, unusual, severe, or unseasonal weather ; weather at the extremes of the historical distribution—the range that has been seen in the

Dr Dey said there are estimates there could be 22,000 extra suicides by 2050 if the world continues at its current rate of warming, and Australia has had some of the most significant increases in temperature of developed nations around the world.

The long-term average number of hot days above 35 degrees is forecast to rise steadily over the next 70 years.

"Climate change, driven by the burning of coal and gas, is already increasing the intensity and frequency of heatwaves in Australia," said Climate Council head of research Martin Rice.

In Melbourne, the average incidence is expected to rise from seven a year to nine in 2030, 11 in 2050 and 17 in 2090. In Sydney, the long-term average number of hot days is forecast to increase from four a year to six in 2030, eight in 2050, to 12 in 2090.

"Even if the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees is met, summer heatwaves in Sydney and Melbourne are likely to reach highs of 50 degrees by 2040," Dr Rice said.

Australian National University Climate Change Institute professor Mark Howden, a contributing author to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said science proved the link between heat extremes and human-induced global warming.

"There is very good evidence that climate change has already increased the frequency and severity of heat extremes in every inhabited continent across the globe," Professor Howden said.

The climate project that changed how we understand extreme weather .
When a handful of scientists tried to publish rapid research into the role of climate change in record rainfall that lashed Britain in 2015, they were told their high-speed approach was "not science". Fast forward to 2021. As extreme heat scorched North America, the same scientists from the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group concluded that the record-shattering temperatures would have been "virtually impossible" without human-caused climateFast forward to 2021.

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