Grace and Ida
On hurricanes, climate change, and mental health
In last week’s issue of The Weekly we took a closer look at the wildfires raging throughout the world and how they are exacerbated by climate change.
Today, as I look at pictures of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Grace in Haiti and by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, I find myself dwelling once more on the very real physical and psychological threats posed by climate change.
As always, I am turning to academics, artists, and activists to help me make sense of this wicked problem and my role in perpetuating or addressing it. If you have any other links to share, please drop them in the comments.
Want a brief overview of the scientific research that connects climate change to the increasing ferocity and strength of hurricanes? Read:
“How climate change is making hurricanes worse”, Jeff Betardelli, (Yale Climate Connections, July 8, 2019)
It can be extraordinarily difficult to express our fears and anxieties about climate change coherently. In February 2021, Canadian folk band The Weather Station released Ignorance, an outstanding album in which, according to an article in Pitchfork:
Singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman talks about confronting the emotional fallout of looming environmental disaster.
And she does so beautifully.
Read more about the genesis of the album:
“The Weather Station battles climate change anxiety, one song at a time,” Allison Hussey (January 27, 2021)
As I read accounts of people in Haiti and Louisiana struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives, wondering how they will get power or carry out the most ordinary day-to-day activities, I find myself reflecting on the lack of mental health resources available to them.
As governments, non-profit organizations, and businesses focus on how to feed and shelter communities, generate power, fix infrastructure, and try to get things “back to normal” as soon as possible, people’s psychological health and safety needs to be tended as well.
For more information, read:
“Focus on climate change and mental health",” Nature (2018).
In recent years, some individuals and organizations have begun to rally around this issue and a growing body of therapists are promoting “climate-aware” support. You can find out more by visiting the website of the Climate Psychiatry Alliance:
A 501(c)(3) advocacy group lead by concerned psychiatrists who are "united by the mission of assuring optimal mental health by preventing and mitigating climate change's impact on mental health and maximizing the mental and physical health co-benefits of a sustainable, regenerative, global response."
Before you go
Would you do me a small favour? If you enjoy reading Sift. Shift. Lift. please take a moment to like, share, or comment below. It is a simple gesture, but it gives new-ish publications like Sift. Shift. Lift.—and creators like me—a much-appreciated boost.
Thank you my friends.
Not yet a subscriber? Pull up a chair. There is always room for one more.
Did you miss an issue?
Here are the links to the last two issues (just in case):
Sifting, shifting, and lifting with . . . artist Scott Aasman (August 29, 2021)
The Weekly on “Rolling through California (and beyond)” (August 25, 2021)