Social and Psychological Effects of Climate Change


Climate change has become a reality instead of many of the humans denying it and calling it a myth. There is more and more evidence that global warming is occurring (Vardiman, 2007) which is an eye opener for those who still believe that global warming is not real. Climate change has many effects. These effects can be categorized to two broader categories. Effects on people and effects on environment. The environmental effects are floods, droughts, growing crop seasons, limited water resources, diseases due to carbon emission and so on. The effects on people are social and psychological effects. In this paper I would like to shed some light on the psychological and social effects of climate change.

Research Question: What are some of the social and psychological effects of climate change?

Social Effects of Climate Change

Climate change has many social effects that are sometimes overlooked as researchers may be interested in the environmental impacts of climate change. There are many reasons we should focus on the social effects of climate change (“Reasons Why Climate Change Is A Social Issue, Not Just An Environmental One”, 2016). Smaller farmers all over the world are feeling the effects of climate change as they do not have the resources to coup with the climate change. Poor people are hit the most by climate change as they do not have proper housing to live in and they might not be able to cure diseases cause by environmental effects and causes. Women, children and the senior citizens will become more vulnerable to the effects of the climate change as they are physically weak and do not have the control over resources in most of the cases in developing and underdeveloped countries. In the following discussion I would be explaining four broader social effects of climate change.


Climate change has been a cause of rising sea levels. It has also been blamed for the increased speed at which glaciers around the world are melting (Reuveny, 2007). Whenever the people of a certain place are not capable of adjusting to the effects of the climate change, they are not left with other option but to migrate. For example if a specific area is hit by a drought that is one of the causes of climate change, the people have to move to another place to get the water resources they need to drink and agricultural needs. Africa is one of the example where people have to migrate to other areas due to severe droughts that caused the agriculture of the area to hit its low and the people and their animals did not have enough water left to drink.


Humans are always in search of a good life. When the rural areas are hit by droughts, floods and other consequences which climate change may have contributed to, many people move to urban areas to earn livings. This causes tensions between the urbans people and the new people who arrive there. Their might not be enough housing and jobs to adjust the new people coming in to the cities which could cause many social issues like homeless people and people who does not have enough nutrition to stay healthy.


Unemployment is another implication of climate change in both rural and urban areas. One of the example is when the agriculture of an area is destroyed by continuous droughts and the effects of carbon emissions, there are many small farmers who are left jobless. These farmers may supply vegetables and fruits to cities which could be the source of employment for small shopkeepers. They are also left with not job.


Conflicts could happen due to many reasons. They could be caused by cultural or religious differences or due to a fight over resources. In the case of climate change, it can also be a cause of conflicts. For example the human effort to drive for land can cause a conflict when human migrations are happening due to climate change (Benjaminsen, Alinon, Buhaug & Buseth, 2012). Conflicts could also arise due to the ownership of water resources when they have been limited due to climate change.

Psychological Effects of Climate Change

Climate change could also be a cause of human psychological issues. It could induce fear and anxiety as humans become more effected by it effects. Due to the loss of different resource, human’s mental health may get effected. In the following discussion, I have described some of the psychological effects that could be caused by climate change directly or indirectly.

Loss of land and its psychological effects

Loss of land due to migration caused by climate change may gravely effect humans. This could cause them to start grieving as humans need worldly thing to survive. Humans need land for housing and agriculture. When they think that the land they own is going to be taken away by the environmental effects, they might consider it some kind of warning by the God which could be a cause to start fearing the supernatural.

Fear and anxiety

Fear may be induced due to the loss of land or by many other climate changes. For example climate change may be identified to cause future floods in an area. This could induce a fear in the minds of the people in the present and an anxiety about the future. Anxiety is cause by the fear of unknown that is expected in the future. Climate change has many known but a lot more unknown effects that will be witnessed in the future.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD may be a response to stress caused by a traumatic situation (Horowitz, 1997). Climate change may bring natural disasters like floods and the outbreak of diseases. Such condition could cause many people from the effected population to get PTSD. This form of psychological disorder would need a treatment by psychological expert. In many regions of the world, this type of psychological help may not be available which could add to the suffering of the people. 

Violence and aggression

Violent and aggressive behavior may be the cause of climate change. This type of behaviors may be exposed in a conflicting situation as explained above. This behavior could also be depicted in the form of wars between two or more nations due to fight for resources.

The emission of carbon emissions from the industries that are owned by rich people and corporations around the world are also responsible for climate change. There is a growing resistance against such corporations and people from those who are really concerned about climate change. This concern could well be converted to aggression and violence in the future.


Climate change is a great threat to the human existence. There are a variety causes, most of which are driven by human greed for money and power. It is our shared responsibility to respond to climate change as collective societies. There is also a need to understand the psychological and social effects of climate change and research the solutions to these effects keeping the short and long term goals in mind.



Benjaminsen, T. A., Alinon, K., Buhaug, H., & Buseth, J. T. (2012). Does climate change drive    land-use conflicts in the Sahel?. Journal of peace research49(1), 97-111.

Horowitz, M. J. (1997). Stress response syndromes: PTSD, grief, and adjustment disorders .          Jason Aronson.

Vardiman, L. (2007). Evidence for Global Warming. Institute for Creation Research.

Reasons Why Climate Change Is A Social Issue, Not Just An Environmental One. (2016). The        Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 December 2016, from

Reuveny, R. (2007). Climate change-induced migration and violent conflict. Political        geography26(6), 656-673