Climate change and the correlation between the brain and climate anxiety

A new study has published an interesting retrospective on the topic

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Climate change and the correlation between the brain and climate anxiety
© Leon Neal / Staff Getty Images

Does the climate crisis affect our brain? Can it generate anxiety? The quantitative variation of multiple factors can cause global warming or global cooling of the atmosphere and earth's surface.

Added to these natural factors is the influence of man who, through the use of fossil fuels, releases large quantities of CO2, methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, increasing the action of the greenhouse effect and generating climate warming which increases the average global temperature of the Earth, with consequences such as desertification, rising and acidifying of the oceans, more frequent extreme atmospheric phenomena.

Man is the most recent of the factors influencing the environment and has been so for a relatively short time. Its influence began with the development of agriculture and the consequent deforestation of forests to convert them into arable land and pastures, up to today large emissions of greenhouse gases: CO2 from industries and means of transport and methane in livestock intensive and in rice fields.

Pollution© Mario Tama / Staff Getty Images

But how does this, with its consequences, affect the human psyche?

The study: Climate change on the brain: Neural correlates of climate anxiety, published in the Journal of anxiety disorders, provided an interesting retrospective on the topic.

The researchers explained:

"Climate change is a global crisis impacting individuals' mental health. Climate anxiety is an emerging area of interest within popular culture and the scientific community. Yet, little is known about the mechanisms underlying climate anxiety. We provide evidence that climate anxiety is related to gray matter volume in the midcingulate cortex as well as its level of functional connectivity with the insula cortex.

These neuroanatomical and neurofunctional features of climate anxiety are involved in identifying and anticipating potential threats within the environment and preparing an appropriate action response to such threats.These neural correlates align with those observed in anxiety disorders.

Yet, climate anxiety itself as well as the neural correlates of climate anxiety were related to pro-environmental behavior. This may suggest that the midcingulate and insula are part of a network linked to an adaptive aspect of climate anxiety in motivating behavioral engagement."