Earth Day 2017: Climate Change & Global PTSD

April 20, 2017 by David Leffler posted on Land + Livestock

12 years ago, Mother Nature delivered one of her deadliest and most destructive blows since the rise of human civilization: Hurricane Katrina. After building strength, size, and volume over the course of several days in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, the massive hurricane heaved 180 mile-per-hour winds and feet of rain on the southern edge of Louisiana before hitting New Orleans. The carnage and pain it caused was harrowing: nearly 2,000 people dead. Over $100 Billion in damages. Thousands of homes, businesses, and communities destroyed. But one lasting effect that is rarely thought of: the agony and mental anguish left behind.

Rising global temperatures are the greatest threat to our future generations. But they’re also toxic for our mental health right now, according to a recent report by the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica. Tracing the variety of impacts climate change has on modern society, the report asserts the ghastly natural disasters fueled by our warming planet result in their victims experiencing: trauma, shock, terror, angel, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and much more. When you consider the misery and anxiety people in areas impacted by deadly storms or devastating floods are left with, it makes sense.

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Take Katrina, for example. In the wake of its impact, areas hit by the storm were rampant with mental ailments. Suicide and suicidal ideation—thoughts of killing oneself—more than doubled. One out of every six people met the diagnostic standards for PTSD, which often leads to a host of threatening symptoms like anxiety, substances abuse, and suicide. Nearly half the population was found to be suffering from anxiety or mood disorders, such as depression, spurred by property loss, financial distress, and more. This speaks to the compounding effect of climate change and is a grave warning for the future: as these events become more frequent and dangerous, these symptoms will seep further into our global psyche.

There’s more to climate change than disasters, though. Its long-term presence also plays a massive role on mental health through several different avenues in everyday life. Changes in climate impact infrastructure, agriculture, liveability, and quality of life. These components can influence patterns from at-risk areas and, in turn, impact the communities where migrants move to. Furthermore, the millions of people worried about the impacts of rising global temperatures, longer droughts, and extreme weather can experience heavy anxiety and mental strain. The fact is, climate change touches on every aspect of our lives because we’re surrounded by it.

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The worst part is, we’re knowingly exposing our populations to these hazards. People consistently fall victim to what the report refers to as psychological distance: the majority of the world is so far removed from a disaster abroad that people simply cannot empathize with its victims from afar. Consider how little is being done to globally address climate change, and it starts to make sense. The gravity of this cannot be overstated: for as long as the majority of humanity maintains its current stance on climate change—one of either denial, deference, or disinterest—the echoes of nature’s devastating might will continue to grow louder and louder. Furthermore, it will remain a divisive, hot-button issue in public discourse that splits our communities and polarizes our politics.

That’s where EPIC Provisions comes in. We’re terrified of what we’re seeing in our world—melting ice caps, rising temperatures, food and water shortages—but turning a blind eye isn’t an option. Not when the future of our grandchildren, the livelihood of people around the world, and our personal happiness is at stake. That’s why we’re committed to combatting climate change through regenerative agriculture, which seeks to rejuvenate our planet’s vital grasslands to sequester massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. It’s our only chance to turn back the clock. Dating back thousands of years, massive herds of ruminants (sheep, goats, cattle, and bison) roamed the earth’s grasslands. By tilling the soil with their hoofs and fertilizing it with their excrement, these animals were essential to the grasslands’ proliferation and ability to consume carbon. Through our partnership with The Savory Institute, we’re doing everything we can to support suppliers who realize that the only way to reverse climate change is to put our planet’s carbon back where it belongs: the soil.

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It all starts with engagement. We are a company that acknowledges climate change is real and growing stronger by the day—and are taking action, which the report claims is one of the best things we can do to improve our mental health in regards to climate change. In this spirit, we are advocating for stronger laws, higher industry standards, and more empathetic personal practices that revolve around mission-driven actions, self-awareness, and unity. Today is the perfect day to start a revolution, strive for conscious consumerism, and hold the people and governing bodies around you accountable for their impact on the greater world. In living boldly, openly, and flexibly, we as a society can better appreciate and utilize the resources, opportunities, and information around us. By adopting a more holistic worldview, we can reduce the psychological distance between ourselves and someone irrevocably marred by a deadly storm across the country or world. Once we acknowledge climate change is everyone’s problem, people around the world will have a far more compassionate and united perspective.

The spectre of all this is mortifying, to say the least. As every year passes, our cherished planet falls deeper and deeper into the clutches of extreme weather, uninhabitable lands, and fractured psyches. But rather than sitting idly and acting as bystanders to our own fate, let’s fight for a cleaner, healthier tomorrow. Let’s start having difficult conversations and looking beyond our own backyards. Let’s vote with our dollars and get behind grassroots movements that stand for something more than material pleasure. Let’s strive to ensure a cleaner planet awaits us on Earth Day next year.

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