The numerous negative impacts of climate change on human health.
Climate change is taking its toll on the planet. Whether directly or indirectly, human health is also determined by the environment, and the health of humans across the globe is at risk from climate change's effects.
Science-Backed Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
A number of studies have been performed to assess the physical and psychological effects of spending time in nature. Research has proven that spending time in natural environments can not only reduce stress but also increase creativity, improve concentration and working memory, and decrease heart rate and blood pressure levels. Taking time out of a busy day to go for a walk or participate in outdoor activities can lead to numerous health benefits and boost your mood.
Spending time in nature encourages physical activity. People are more likely to participate in exercise or mild activities, such as walking, when outdoors. Community residents that have access to more green spaces, such as parks or outdoor gyms, may be more encouraged to improve their physical health.
There are several physical health benefits to spending time in green spaces, such as:
Lower blood pressure
Strengthens the immune system
Lower heart rate
Lower rates of obesity
Reduces risk of type II diabetes and heart disease
Human health is a complex system. However, we know that our environment can be a determining factor in our long-term health. Air quality, water quality, nutrition, and green spaces have a priceless effect on our physical well-being. Health complications from poor water and air quality can lead to serious illnesses, including diseases of the heart, cancers, heavy metal toxicity, and more.
Age, economic resources, and location are factors that also determine our access to healthy food, routines, and services. Climate change has now become an additional factor that can determine physical health.
The United State Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that "public health can be affected by disruptions of physical, biological, and ecological systems, including disturbances originating here and elsewhere." Climate change is a phenomenon that is changing the ecology and biology of the planet, meaning it is changing human health, too.
Climate change increases the strength and frequency of severe weather events like wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, and more. Other consequences of climate change include decreased air quality, soil quality, and water quality. Natural disasters are a risk to physical health. Severe risks include bodily harm and death. Less severe risks include respiratory inflammation, headaches, and heat exhaustion.
"Research has proven that spending time in natural environments can not only reduce stress but also increase creativity, improve concentration and working memory, and decrease heart rate and blood pressure levels."
Nature plays a role in our mental and cognitive functioning. Spending time in nature has been shown to decrease stress, improve physical health, and promote life satisfaction. However, climate change has created various mental health concerns among humans.
Natural disasters displace millions of people each year. A 2020 report states that 31 million adults and children were displaced either permanently or temporarily from their homes due to natural disasters and climate change effects. Being without a home or belongings and starting over can cause serious mental health consequences for many individuals and families.
Climate change affects groups of people disproportionately (for now), as those in poorer countries are six times more likely to be displaced by natural disasters. They are also more likely to suffer from mental health conditions as opposed to those in wealthier countries, with less financial stability to receive treatment.
A new condition never experienced by previous human civilizations (that we know of) called eco-anxiety is also being seen in individuals at exponential rates. Climate anxiety, also called eco-anxiety, is taking a toll on people around the world who are greatly concerned with the present and future condition of the climate and environment.
Eco-anxiety is the psychological distress caused by climate change. Humans are witnessing the planet's environment deteriorate because of the long-lasting effects of human activity. Since the creation of the internet and social media, news, and studies have been shared quickly. Concerns over the environment's health fuels climate anxiety, and people who have experienced natural disasters that stem from climate change are more likely to experience climate or eco-anxiety.
Although it is not considered a medical condition, climate anxiety aligns with general anxiety as both share similar characteristics. The following list are signs that one may be experiencing climate anxiety.
Concerns and deep fear of the future in relation to the environment
Feelings of overwhelming guilt about one's actions and impact on the environment
Grief or feeling hopeless about the environment's health
Depression fueled by negative thoughts about the impact of climate change
Younger generations are especially susceptible to eco-anxiety and feel they have been let down by their governments for not taking further urgent actions against the ever-increasing climate change issue.
Climate change has a direct and indirect effect on human health.
Human health is affected physically and mentally by climate change.
Disease, anxiety, and health complications can occur from climate change and natural disasters.