Mouse studies have shown that changing environmental factors can affect the development and plasticity of the brain. In humans, too, poverty has been known to affect cognitive stimulation and cause heightened childhood stress.
Doel said that due to frequent extreme weather events, alongside factors such as air pollution and anxiety around climate change, it’s crucial to understand the impact on people’s brains. “Only then can we start to find ways to mitigate these changes,” she added. Living through frequent heatwaves, droughts, hurricanes and forest fires could change brain structure, function, and overall health.
It is only in the past year that scientists and policymakers have begun focusing on public health aspects of climate change. The issue was widely discussed during the G20 sessions held in Goa, Mumbai and Delhi in September.
The WHO has estimated that by 2050, climate change will affect public health to such an extent that 2.5 lakh more people will die every year due to undernutrition, diarrhoea, heat and malaria.