For the most part, though, the experts have made only vague references to the link between climate change and mental health, even though evidence for such connections is starting to pile up. In a review of the published literature, Page and a colleague found a variety of examples.
After natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, for instance, studies have clearly documented a rise in post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and other mental disorders. The same symptoms occur during infectious disease outbreaks.
In the future, climate models predict more destructive storms, more floods, more droughts and more diseases. In turn, the new study suggests, more psychological crises will follow.
Heat waves -- like the one that killed some 70,000 people in Europe in the summer of 2003 -- will also happen more frequently, last longer and be more severe in coming years. The mentally ill will be hardest hit by these events, Page suspects, because they're more likely to live in substandard housing without air conditioning or other amenities.