Norton School Researcher Explores Psychological Effects of Climate Change

Wildfires, extreme storms and major weather events can seem like a distant threat, but for those whose lives have been directly impacted by these events, the threat hits much closer to home.

As reports of such incidents continue to rise, researchers at the University of Arizona set out to learn more about how people's perception of the threat of global climate change affects their mental health. They found that while some people have little anxiety about the Earth's changing climate, others are experiencing high levels of stress, and even depression, based on their perception of the threat of global climate change.

While significant research has explored the environmental impacts of climate change, far fewer studies have considered its psychological effect on humans, said UA researcher Sabrina Helm, an associate professor of family and consumer science in the UA's Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Helm and her colleagues found that psychological responses to climate change seem to vary based on what type of concern people show for the environment, with those highly concerned about the planet's animals and plants experiencing the most stress.

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