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The Debilitating Disease of Climate Alarmism
Volume 14, Number 28: 13 July 2011

Writing in the International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Searle and Gow (2011) say "there is a growing consensus that increased awareness about climate change is leading to negative emotional reactions in certain individuals (Fritze et al., 2008)," while noting that "expressions of negative psychological states relating to climate change appear in popular commentary, public opinion polls and increasingly in the medical and psychological literature (Searle and Gow, 2009)." And they add that "doctors are reporting that more and more patients, presenting with anxiety and depression, are citing climate change news as something that they are having difficulty coping with" and that "leads to distress and/or interferes with daily living (Fritze et al., 2008)."

The two Australian researchers note that "other climate related pathologies are also emerging," citing the work of Wolf and Salo (2008), who "described a patient with climate change delusions and visions of apocalyptic events who believed that his personal water consumption could lead to the deaths of millions of people," while they write of "an increase in climate-related obsessive compulsive checking behaviors such as checking: gas and power meters to monitor their usage; taps for leaking water; and petrol consumption via the car's odometer reading." In fact, they report that displays of climate change related obsessive and depressive behaviors has led to the creation of the term "carborexia," which "refers to individuals who have a fanatical desire to reduce their personal carbon footprint, to the point where it severely affects their lifestyle and normal daily activities."

In their own preliminary research, Searle and Gow (2009) found that most of the people they studied "conceptualized climate change as being related to unexpected environmental events such as natural disasters; changes in climate such as extreme weather patterns; and changes to lifestyle such as living with water restrictions," which changes "were generally viewed as leading to greater social problems in the future such as mass migration, increased food prices, war over natural resources, as well as more extreme and catastrophic climatic events," which are the very things out of which climate alarmism is constructed and maintained by people such as Al Gore, James Hansen, Michael Mann and a host of their cohorts. So great is "the perceived threat to a community's mental health," in fact, that Searle and Gow report that health professionals have called for "the development of strategies to assist individuals to deal with their concerns."

To further explore this sad but important subject, Searle and Gow (2011) created a questionnaire designed to probe the roles of people's personality factors and environmental beliefs with regard to the impacts of those factors/beliefs on the development of their feelings about the catastrophic climate-change predictions of the world's climate alarmists. This survey was completed by 275 Australian adults; and subsequent analyses of their responses revealed clear associations between climate change distress and "symptoms indicative of depression, anxiety and stress." So what, specifically, did the researchers find?

The two Queensland University of Technology investigators say their results reveal that the public is "becoming increasingly concerned about climate change" and that there is a relationship between this concern and symptoms that are "indicative of depression, anxiety and stress." They say that individuals "are finding information about climate change increasingly difficult to cope with, and the resulting negative thoughts and feelings are contributing to the development and maintenance of clinical levels of depressive and anxious symptoms." They also note that the majority of the study participants "were more concerned about climate change now than they were three, five and ten years ago, reflecting the increasing concern shown in the media and the more commonly used discourses of our time relating to fear, danger and catastrophe." In addition, they report that "all ages felt equally as helpless, hopeless and powerless," and that "greater overall distress in the younger age groups may reflect the increasing tendency to teach climate change themes in school curriculae."

Searle and Gow (2011) further note that the Australian Psychological Society is taking this body of findings very seriously, noting that the Society states in a tip sheet (APS, 2009) that "although environmental threats are real and can be frightening, remaining in a state of heightened distress is not helpful for ourselves or for others." Thus, the tip sheet goes on to provide sixteen different strategies that are designed "to assist individuals to stay calm and rational and to improve a sense of coping." And after acknowledging this advice, the two researchers conclude their report with the suggestion of Fritze et al. (2008) that "in the long-term, those involved with mental health promotion will need to strike an important balance between scientific evidence, hope, morale and action at a time when climatic predictions are becoming increasingly grave," which is a rather scary proposition in and of itself.

Yes, we live in truly disturbing times, when climate alarmists are proclaiming one impending catastrophe after another, if anthropogenic CO2 emissions are not drastically reduced; and there is absolutely no question but that the responsibility for the resultant widespread and growing state of irrational depression, anxiety and stress that is manifesting itself throughout the world can be laid squarely at the doorstep of those who peddle climatic doom and gloom, and that the perverse results of their perturbing of the psyches of millions of people will bring nothing but anguish and remorse as rewards for their woefully misguided efforts.

Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso

Australian Psychological Society. 2009. Climate Change: What You Can Do. Melbourne, Australia.

Fritze, J.G., Blashki, G.A., Burke, S. and Wiseman, J. 2008. Hope, despair and transformation: climate change and the promotion of mental health and wellbeing. International Journal of Mental Health Systems 2: 10.1186/1752-4458-2-13.

Searle, K. and Gow, K. 2009. Exploring the psychological aspects of risks, fears and concerns about climate change. In: Gow, K. (Ed.). Meltdown: Climate Change, Natural Disasters & Other Catastrophes -- Fears and Concerns of the Future. Nova Science, New York, New York, U.S.A., pp. 31-53.

Searle, K. and Gow, K. 2011. Do concerns about climate change lead to distress? International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management 2: 362-379.

Wolf, J. and Salo, R. 2008. Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink: climate change delusion. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 42: 350.