What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Giving Compass' Take:
• Maggie Koerth-Baker explains that we do not understand the extent to which Americans are stressed about climate change and what it means for the country.
• Climate change will impact different communities in various ways, how can funders help to clarify how stressed Americans living in different places are?
The Midwest has been drenched by rain and beset by floods. California is bracing for wildfires after several years of record-breaking burns. Hurricane season is just getting into gear in the Atlantic Ocean, which has been hit by more storms than usual over the past three years, and those storms have been above-average in intensity. Heat waves have been increasing across the country for decades. Just last weekend, New Yorkers were being warned to use less air conditioning to prevent blackouts — and to charge their phonesfor when the blackouts would inevitably happen.
After three summers in a row of major natural disaster headlines, there’s a good chance that if you aren’t currently experiencing a disaster, you’re bracing for one, wondering whether (or how) summer will strike. Public health organizations and media talk a lot about the “new normal” — the idea that, as climate changes, disasters that were once rare events are increasingly common. That could also translate to a new normal for mental health. What does it mean for our emotions when summer is spent waiting for something bad to happen?
There’s a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short version is, basically, we don’t know yet — but scientists are really interested in finding out. “You’ve probably seen all kinds of anecdotal reports of anxiety associated with climate change,” said Susan Clayton, professor of psychology at The College of Wooster. “But there’s not much concrete data we can refer to.”
That’s partly because the single, seemingly simple question is actually a tangle of ideas, and it’s not clear whether existing surveys tease them apart effectively. For instance, a December 2018 survey from the Yale and George Mason University climate change communication programs found that 69 percent of Americans are at least somewhat worried about global warming. But we don’t know much about what that means on a day-to-day basis, Clayton told me, or whether levels of concern change throughout the year.
Read the full article about stress about climate change by Maggie Koerth-Baker at FiveThirtyEight.