James Arnott and Shannon Stirone, YaleClimateConnections.org, December 19, 2023
Recent research shows that the unfolding crises in climate change and social isolation may actually be connected.
The climate crisis isn’t just altering our physical environments. It could even be transforming our minds and how we connect to each other.
Many people are experiencing escalating anxiety levels about the potential for extreme weather events and the safety of their homes, property, and livelihoods. Still more are numbed by general ennui about how the planet and our existence are being fundamentally altered. And evidence is growing that in addition to altering our environment, the climate crisis could be transforming our minds.
“Climate change is inside us,” said Clayton Aldern, a neuroscientist and author of the forthcoming “The Weight of Nature: How a Changing Climate Changes Our Brains,” one of a number of recent books and studies that delve into how climate change affects our brains, our mental health, and the connections we make with each other.
A connection to loneliness
Researchers are finding that the climate crisis is unfolding alongside crises in mental health and social isolation — and suggest some striking ways these issues may be intertwined. The collective stress, fears, and isolation caused by climate-related events, dubbed eco-anxiety, could be making people more lonely, in turn hurting health, relationships, and collective ability to act.
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