Democrats in the House and Senate are advising that global warming could cause mental health problems in addition to physical health problems, and have proposed legislation that would require the federal government to come up with a plan to help health professionals to deal with this effect.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) proposed the legislation last week known as the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act. The bill provides an unspecified amount of money that the Department of Health and Human Services would give to health professionals so they can help people cope with climate change.
A man throws an earth balloon into the air as people fill 58th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue before a global warming march in New York on Sunday. Democrats in the House and Senate say global warming will not only cause physical health problems, but mental health problems as well. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Some of the factors HHS would have to consider are water and food-borne infections diseases, and possible cardiovascular effects due to "temperature extremes." But it then says HHS needs to develop a plan for the "mental and behavioral health impacts of climate change."
Additionally, it wants HHS to develop a plan for "the health of refugees, displaced persons, and vulnerable communities."
Markey doesn't say exactly how climate change might lead to mental health problems, but indicates these problems could be a side effect if some his more dire weather-related predictions come true.
"Climate change threatens the health of people and the planet," he said last week. "Global warming gets personal when air pollution harms lungs and the risks of food, water and mosquito and tick transmitted diseases increases."
"The carbon pollution we pump into the atmosphere puts public safety at serious risk from dangerous heat waves, smog that can trigger asthma attacks in kids, and wider spread of disease,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), another cosponsor of the bill. "This pragmatic measure will help the United States prepare for these threats and protect the health and safety of all Americans."
The Senate bill is a companion to a House bill that was introduced in 2013 by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.).