Global warming will raise suicide rates
A new study says climate change could cause an additional 40,000 suicides in America and Canada by 2050.
The consequences of our actions are more far-reaching than we imagine. Consider the microbial world—the world we all actually inhabit. In his book, I Contain Multitudes, science writer Ed Yong points our mistake in loading up on both antibiotics and probiotics without a full (and personalized) understanding of our microbiome. Eradicating bacteria can be as dangerous as drowning in what we believe to be beneficial microbes.
That’s because beneficial bacteria can destroy microbes we actually need. In the coming years, doctors will offer targeted bacterial solutions to a range of diseases—one promising treatment is fecal microbiota treatment—but right now we’re hastily consuming potentially harmful bacteria while uttering the holistic medical mantra, “more is better.”
We don’t need more, we need balance. As goes our stomachs, so goes the earth. Last week I reported on Americans being unprepared to face health risks associated with climate change, including increased domestic abuse cases, contaminated drinking water, and doctors being unable to treat those in need. No sooner was that story published that my editor emailed me a study about another consequence: an uptick in suicides.
In 2013, a report speculated on the ways global warming will increase violence in regions fighting for resources. The heat does strange things to animal psychology. Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam begins with the narrator discussing the oppressive heat during the season David Berkowitz committed serial murders—the same summer as the infamous New York City blackout.
Piqued by this potential connection between heat and self-violence, the Stanford researchers, publishing in Nature Climate Change, found a linear correlation between temperature increase and suicide. After controlling for gun ownership, income level, and access to air conditioning, they discovered that suicides are in fact more common as the world heats up.
Besides scouring through suicide data back to 1968, lead author Dr. Marshall Burke, an assistant professor of earth system science, and his team analyzed over 622 million tweets over a fourteen-month period in the United States to investigate the link between rising temperatures and mental health.
After looking at how often the location-tagged tweets used depressive language as well as the temperature of the areas tweeted from, the scientists found “a pattern that's strikingly similar” to the suicide data, Burke says: Higher temperatures meant worse mental health.
Suicide rates have long been linked to economic tragedies. For example, last year a study found that rising temperatures increased suicides among farmers in India. The reason proffered was money lost due to crop damage. Over the last three decades, over 60,000 farmers took their own lives. Yet the Stanford study deepens our understanding of how weather affects our psychology. It might not just be the money.
The researchers note that wellbeing decreases as temperatures increase, according to their Twitter analysis. As temperatures rise our body cools itself, changing how blood flows to our brain. Thermoregulation might increase depressive symptoms in certain individuals.
If this trend continues, the scientists write, by 2050 Americans and Canadians could experience an additional 9,000 to 40,000 suicides specific to climate change. While there are many reasons climate causes death, the researchers are confident in asserting hotter temperatures means more suicides:
In contrast to all-cause mortality, suicide increases at hot temperatures and decreases at cold temperatures; also unlike all-cause mortality, the effect of temperature on suicide has not decreased over time and does not appear to decrease with rising income or the adoption of air conditioning.
Of the many issues surrounding climate change, such as coastal flooding and increased hurricane strength, we must add suicide to the list. It might have remained “hidden” until now, but social media, despite its many ills, is a reliable indicator of our mental outlook. As temperatures rise, that outlook is looking bleak.
Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.
- Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
- The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
- Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.
- According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
- Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
- Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
The comics titan worked for more than half a century to revolutionize and add nuance to the comics industry, and he built a vast community of fans along the way.
- Lee died shortly after being rushed to an L.A. hospital. He had been struggling with multiple illnesses over the past year, reports indicate.
- Since the 1950s, Lee has been one of the most influential figures in comics, helping to popularize heroes that expressed a level of nuance and self-doubt previously unseen in the industry.
- Lee, who's later years were marked by some financial and legal tumult, is survived by his daughter, Joan Celia "J.C." Lee.
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