Psychologist On NPR: Climate Change Causes Depression, Anxiety, And Atheism

Psychologist On NPR: Climate Change Causes Depression, Anxiety, And Atheism June 20, 2018

A clinical psychologist specializing in emergency mental health services said during an interview on NPR that climate change is causing severe mental health problems, such as not believing in god(s).

From NASA's climate change website.
From NASA’s climate change website.

Psychologist Judith Kuriansky, who recently moderated a panel on the connection between climate change and mental health, explained that environmental issues and natural disasters can lead to intense depression and anxiety. She told WBUR that other negative side effects include questioning God.

“From a practical point of view, there’s lots of advice people probably have heard about how they should prepare their emergency kit, they should have phone numbers available, they should know where they need to go to higher ground if it’s a water-related issue, etc. So, all of that is practical things that you do. But in terms of emotional things, I think you need to be prepared to know that if something happens, you are going to have these experiences emotionally that we’ve talked about. That it’s likely you could become depressed, you could become anxious, you’d become more aggressive, you could start arguments with your family members. And another thing that happens is, it’s very, very common, is that people question God. ‘Where is God to protect me?’”

The comment didn’t go unnoticed, either. Stephan Neidenbach, a public school teacher who runs the We Love GMOs and Vaccines page on Facebook, pointed out how ridiculous it is to imply that atheism is a consequence of climate change (and that it’s what we need to worry about).

Kuriansky went on to talk more about the “spiritual” effects of home displacement, making a few legitimate points about suicides in Puerto Rico and other regions that have been struck by natural disasters, but her underlying point—that questioning God is a bad thing caused by climate change—couldn’t be more wrong.

On Kuriansky’s website, she claims to have been on the ground within days of the earthquake in Haiti to give “psychological first aide” to survivors and responders. She also claims to be an “expert in disaster intervention,” and says she worked with a Haitian-born Catholic priest to train a group of 35 children to serve as “comforters” for those people who were wounded.

As long as people keep spreading false information like this, especially when it comes from “experts” like Kuriansky, atheism will continue to have a negative stigma. People will still think that atheism is just the result of depressing circumstances, and that it can’t be the result of logical thinking processes. We need to fix it.

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