Climate Change: Climate change to impact brain function too: Study

MUMBAI: Climate change will not only increase instances of flooding and wildfire, scientists fear it will also trigger changes in people’s brains. In a report published in the scientific journal ‘Nature Climate Change’, academicians from across the world have collaborated to show global warming could impact brain function in the near future. The paper’s lead author Dr Kimberly C Doell from the University of Viennasaid: “We’ve long known that factors in our environment can lead to changes in the brain.Yet we’re only just beginning to look at how climate change, the greatest global threat of our time, might change our brains.”

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.


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