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Higher Temperatures Linked to Increase in Suicides
As a summer of record high temperatures continues, a sobering new study suggests that more summers like this could have serious mental health consequences.
The study, published in Nature Climate Change Monday, found that, for every one degree Celsius increase in average monthly temperature, suicide rates go up by 0.7 percent in U.S. counties and 2.1 percent in Mexican municipalities, adding suicide to the list of deadly consequences of climate change.
"It's sort of a brutal finding," study author and Stanford University earth science professor Marshall Burke told The Atlantic.
The researchers calculated that if nothing is done to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the projected temperature increases would lead to an additional nine to 40 thousand suicides in the U.S. and Mexico by 2050.
That is more than the deaths that would be expected due to a one percent increase in unemployment due to recession, The Guardian reported.
In the U.S. alone, the researchers estimated that around 14,000 and as many as 26,000 would die by suicide by 2050.
Crucially, the study found that, if global warming continues unchecked, there isn't much that can be done to reduce the mental health risks of higher temperatures. When researchers controlled for the presence of air conditioners, they found they didn't mitigate the increased suicide rate linked to hotter temperatures outdoors.
The researchers also found that their results held true for everyone regardless of region, gender, month or access to guns.
It therefore counteracts the muted optimism of studies like a 2017 paper published in Science and highlighted by The Atlantic that found climate change would have economic benefits in some parts of the Pacific Northwest and New England.
"'Climate change is going to generate winners and losers'—this is a phrase you hear all the time," Burke told The Atlantic. "But for this outcome, it's all losers. There are no winners. We find these strong linear relationships everywhere when you crank up the temperature."
Because the researchers controlled for so many variables, it made their findings more rigorous.
"I found the results compelling and the methodology strong," University of Pennsylvania epidemiology and biostatistics professor Gregory Tasian, who was not involved with the research, told The Atlantic.
"It fits very well into the overall narrative about the effect of climate change and high temperatures on human health—and it incorporates another aspect of human health which is often neglected, which is mental health," he said.
The researchers also looked at social media posts during higher temperatures and found an uptick in words signalling depression, like alone, bleak, lonely and trapped, according to The Guardian.
One theory for why this might happen is that, as the body attempts to cool itself during higher temperatures, the way blood flows to the brain is changed.If you or anyone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.