II Climate Change Adaptation, Resilience and Hazards

Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events: The Mental Health Impact

David N. Sattler


Climate change has the potential to increase the strength, intensity, and frequency of extreme weather events that threaten lives and property, mental health and well-being, and the livelihood of millions of people (United Nations 2014). The mental health consequences of climate change and extreme weather events associated with climate change are so severe that the Task Force on the Interface between Psychology and Global Climate Change states that “Addressing climate change is arguably one of the most pressing tasks facing our planet and its inhabitants” (American Psychological Association 2009, p. 6). This chapter considers how exposure to extreme weather events may influence preparedness for new threats and mental health and psychological functioning during recovery, as well as prospects for projects that educate about extreme weather events.1

In recent years, climate change has been associated with Cyclone Winston and Super Typhoon Haiyan (two of the strongest storms in recorded history to have made landfall in Fiji and the Philippines, respectively); heatwaves, fires, and extended periods of drought in Australia, Russia, Canada, the Amazon, and southern and western Africa, and flooding in United Kingdom, Bangladesh, and other South Asian countries (Johnson 2016; Union of Concerned Scientists 2016; World Bank 2013). In the wake of research conducted by the author of this chapter 1The term extreme weather event is used to refer to any natural disaster whose strength can be intensified by climate change, such as a hurricane, flood, drought, fire, and heatwave. The terms hurricane, cyclone, and typhoon refer to the same weather phenomena; use of the term varies depending on the location of the storm. [1]

examining psychological functioning among persons who experienced Cyclone Winston in Fiji and Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the need for a chapter that considers the mental health consequences of exposure to extreme weather events associated with climate change became apparent.

  • [1] D.N. Sattler (H) Department of Psychology, Western Washington University, Bellingham,WA 98225-9172, USAe-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it © Springer International Publishing AG 2017 W. Leal Filho (ed.), Climate Change Adaptation in Pacific Countries,Climate Change Management, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-50094-2_4
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