Saturday, September 10, 2011

Climate change damaging mental health

Matthew Cawood in Farm Weekly (Australia): The physical damage wrought by climate extremes makes the headlines, but it's the damage done to mental health that often does the most lasting harm to communities, a new report says. Mental illness is already the second-largest burden to Australia's health system, The Climate Institute study "A Climate of Suffering" reports, and that burden may grow heavier as the effects of climate change advance.

"Climate change is not simply a matter of slowly rising temperatures and seas; it affects all aspects of our way of life: extreme weather costs billions of dollars in property damage, insurance premiums, health and welfare spending, and lost productivity." Climate-related disasters set in motion a cascade of problems that affect all members of a community, the report notes.

"Higher rates of drug and alcohol misuse, violence, family dissolution, and suicide are more likely to follow more extreme weather events. Evidence is beginning to emerge that drought and heat waves lead to higher rates of self-harm and suicide, as much as eight per cent higher."

Drought, flooding rains and cyclones are nothing new to Australian communities. The Big Dry of south-eastern Australia, cyclones Larry and Yasi and the 2009 Victorian bushfires are not individually indicators of climate change….

From 1781, John Henry Fuseli's "The Nightmare"

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