Climate, Health and Equity Brief
Eco-anxiety, 12-step programs and wildfires in winter
February 18, 2022
The Climate, Health & Equity Brief is GMMB’s take on the week’s news on the current impacts of climate change. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here.
Hot Topic: Survey says. A new POLITICO Global Sustainability Poll released this week found that a majority of respondents in the 13 countries surveyed say they are concerned about the climate crisis, including majorities among right-leaning voters in every country except Australia (which fell just short at 49 percent). The poll also showed that people think their political leaders are failing miserably on climate action, and major corporations should take on a much larger role.
These results follow a multi-country survey of 16-to-25-year-olds in which more than half of respondents said “humanity is doomed” in the face of the climate crisis. With the benefit of such insights, it’s no surprise that eco-anxiety has gone mainstream among mental health professionals in recent years. As The New York Times notes this week, the Climate Psychology Alliance now provides an online directory of climate-aware therapists, one nonprofit has started a 12-step program to help people deal specifically with climate grief, and professional certification programs in climate psychology are proliferating.
For those closely following the news, this evolution is no surprise. Just this week, several reports have delivered yet more concerning news: Mount Everest has lost 2,000 years’ worth of ice in the last 25 years. Twenty-five major companies that together are responsible for five percent of global emissions are failing to meet their own climate goals and regularly exaggerate their progress. Changes to the habitable ranges of insects mean it’s highly likely that disease-spreading mosquitoes will migrate and multiply, while vital pollinator bees will continue a sharp decline. And in California, the second wildfire of the winter signal that ‘wildfire season’ may now be a year-round phenomenon.
—Matt & Traci, GMMB
Once considered speculative, climate anxiety has now entered the mainstream as therapists treat more patients suffering from existential dread and the field of climate psychology expands among mental health professionals. (The New York Times)
A new study attributed 1.8 million global deaths in 2019 to particulate matter exposure, and found that 86 percent of urban dwellers worldwide live with air pollution levels seven times greater than World Health Organization guidelines. (The Washington Post)
Increasing temperatures are forcing insect populations to move and adapt, raising fears about the survivability of many insect species, including bees, which are essential for pollination and have already experienced significant population decreases across North America and Europe. (The Guardian)
In a new study, scientists warn that Mount Everest’s highest glacier is losing decades worth of water annually due to planetary warming, threatening rapid glacial melt that could lead to more frequent avalanches and diminished water sources for 1.6 billion people in the Himalayan region. (CNN)
The Emerald fire in Laguna Beach, marks the second California wildfire this winter, signaling that with increasing temperatures, what was once a four-month wildfire season is increasingly becoming a year-round phenomenon in the state. (Independent)
Anxiety is a sensible response to what we’re facing. Everyone, everything and every place you love is at stake.”
– Katharine Hayhoe, The Nature Conservancy
Insurers are reassessing their risk modeling practices after suffering tens of billions of dollars in losses from severe weather events in recent years, leaving homeowners facing escalating property insurance premiums and creating hardship for retirees reliant on fixed incomes. (The New York Times)
Bronzeville, a neighborhood considered Chicago’s center of Black history and culture, will become the first U.S neighborhood fully supported by a sustainable microgrid of solar panels, generators, and batteries that will provide critical support to its residents. (Canary Media)
Politics & Economy
A new poll found that respondents in all 13 countries surveyed are concerned about climate change and believe government and corporate leaders must do more to solve the crisis. (POLITICO)
A new report found that 25 major companies, which together account for five percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, are failing to meet their own goals to combat climate change and regularly exaggerate or misreport their progress. (BBC)
Conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s transition from climate skeptic to climate advocate resulted from a pivotal scientific briefing in 2020 composed of 11 slides outlining the imminent threat of climate change. (CarbonBrief.org)
Life as We Know It
A new study found that increased air conditioner use in the U.S. due to rising temperatures could cause electricity demand to increase as much as 13 percent during summer seasons, contributing more to planetary warming and threatening to cause prolonged blackouts if states do not increase energy efficiency or capacity. (Phys.org)
The U.S Department of Agriculture has pledged $1 billion to help the farming industry implement climate-friendly agricultural solutions in hopes of curbing the sector’s high greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. (CNBC)
The U.S Army has laid out three end-state goals as part of its new climate strategy, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and establishing new climate-focused security measures in response to global environmental instability. (Defense News)
Tiny islands around the world are offering examples by shifting to renewable energy implementation, investing in clean technologies and developing carbon-neutral societies, with some islands aiming to be carbon neutral in as soon as three years. (BBC)
A new solar farm under construction in Louisiana will more than double solar power capacity in the third-largest natural gas producing state in the U.S. (Canary Media)
Feeling the heat of climate anxiety? Check out the Good Grief Network, a nonprofit organization that leads peer-to-peer support groups to help people process climate grief, eco-anxiety, and other emotions that arise in response to our planetary crisis.
The GMMB Climate, Health & Equity Brief would not be possible without the contributions of the larger GMMB California team—Aaron Benavides, Elke Cortes, Sharde Olabanji and Stefana Simonetto. Feedback on the Brief is welcome and encouraged and should be sent to CHandEBrief@gmmb.com.