Climate Change And Mental Health: Is There A Connection?

Angry Child Yelling

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Heat and Aggression

Climate change was once more commonly referred to as global warming. This term is still widely used, and increased temperatures are the most frequently described manifestation of climate change. What effect, if any, do increases in temperature have on mental and emotional health? According to a fascinating 2015 report by The Guardian, it could indeed be having an influence on people’s behavior.

When the weather is very cold, you can always put more layers on. Thus, you have a degree of control over it. But when it’s hot and humid, unless you have access to air conditioning, there’s only so much you can do. Many people, the report claims, feel anger when they’re afflicted by circumstances over which they have little or no control. The report argues that extreme heat and humidity can contribute to increased feelings of irritability and stress due to that fact that those affected can’t really escape it. This is connected to the theory of Cognitive Neoassociation Theory, which states that people who are exposed to negative stimuli will be predisposed to negative feeling toward anything they associate with those stimuli. In the case of omnipresent stimuli like high temperatures and humidity, this can encompass basically everything and everyone.

These factors are part of the reasons why people think there’s a spike in violent crime during the summer months in many countries. The Guardian article suggests that the intense heat may have been a contributing factor in the London riots that took place in the summer of 2011. If increases in temperature lead to increased aggression, could more such events happen in other places as well?

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