The negative impact of climate change is a growing global concern and rightly so. There is strong scientific consensus that human activity is the cause. Burning fossil fuels traps heat in the atmosphere causing the Earth’s temperature to rise, a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide emitted from cars, trains, trucks, and planes is the main culprit. Methane produced from beef and dairy production is another large contributor. Evidence of the greenhouse effect can be seen in rising sea levels, altered precipitation, melting polar ice, increase in severe storms, flooding, heat waves, drought, and wildfires according to the APA Task Force on Climate Change (2022).
Climate change also has strong mental health implications. Susan Clayton, Ph.D., professor of psychology and environmental science and the lead author of the APA and Climate for Health sponsored exposition Mental Health and Our Changing Climate (2021), reports about the negative impact on mental health. Climate change can exacerbate PTSD, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Extreme heat specifically is associated with increased psychiatric hospitalizations, sleep disorders, domestic abuse, interpersonal violence, and decreased cognitive task performance (i.e., test-taking and job performance). Eco-anxiety, or distress due to the awareness of climate change is also rising.
People who are most affected by climate change include those with preexisting vulnerabilities including children, the elderly, people with underlying chronic illnesses and disabilities, marginalized communities – especially communities of color with an emphasis on African American communities- LGBTQIA+, low-income, and rural communities. Paradoxically, people who contribute to climate change the least are impacted by climate change the most. Also, those who are more impacted by climate change are more concerned about climate change.
The good news is that we can all participate in the fight against further climate change damage to our world. The carbon footprint is a measure of how much greenhouse gas we produce. We can calculate our individual carbon footprint and make efforts to reduce it. I have listed some ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Below are links to read more about reducing your carbon footprint and a carbon footprint calculator. Let’s take the opportunity for socially responsible action to reduce our carbon footprint or to reduce our carbon footprint even further!
Carbon Footprint Calculator
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Things to Do Right Now to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Help Our Planet:
*Fly less, Fly nonstop
*Eat less meat
*Waste less food (Americans waste about 40% of food purchased)
*Reduce the use of Lights, use incandescent lights, Unplug Devices not in use
*Reduce use of Appliances, Turn Down Water Heater
*Get Politically Active – to vote for decarbonizing policies and representatives.