Extreme weather events brought about by climate change can have severe effects on the mental health of victims.
Climate change is here, now. While it is often difficult to draw a clear line between a particular weather event and long-term climate change, there is a strong relationship between the emerging global pattern of disasters and global warming—whether long and insidious, like drought, or short and violent, like bushfires.
Scientists warn that a failure to reverse rising carbon pollution levels will see Australia’s inherently moody climate become even more volatile. With inaction or delay on pollution comes a sharp rise in the frequency, intensity and extent of heatwaves, bushfires and drought, as well as more torrential downpours, and tropical storms with increasing ferocity.
The damage caused by a changing climate is not just physical. Recent experience shows extreme weather events also pose a serious risk to public health, including mental health and community wellbeing, with serious flow-on consequences for the economy and wider society.
This paper’s purpose is to raise awareness of the mental health consequences of extreme weather events and climate change. By reviewing the evidence and expert opinion, it is hoped that governments, businesses and communities will be prompted to act early, to avoid further unnecessary suffering and cost.