A new study has warned that rising temperatures linked with global warming will likely result in an increase in injuries and violent deaths from road crashes, assaults, suicides, drowning and more.
Image Credit: Adam Gregor/Shutterstock.com
For a long time, psychologists have understood the impact of temperature on human behavior. Over the decades, many studies have uncovered that increases in temperature can induce violent behavior. Much evidence has been collected that corroborates the feeling that many of us have that hot temperatures increase hostility and feelings of anger, leading to increased aggression and violence.
Studies have also shown that cold temperatures have the reverse effect. What’s more, warm temperatures also bring about certain changes in social behaviors that are also linked with higher death rates, such as increased time spent outside and increased consumption of alcohol.
A new study predicts that rising temperatures due to global warming will have the impact of increasing deaths in several ways, relating to increased feelings of aggression, but also due to changes in behavior related to warmer weather and effects on health. Finally, researchers have found evidence that heat can also have a deeper psychological impact other than increasing aggression which has been linked to elevated rates of suicide.
Effects will impact younger people
The world is currently aiming to keep the rise in global temperatures to just two degrees celsius. However, new research has estimated that even if the rise in temperatures is limited to just two degrees, there will be 2000 extra deaths each year in the US alone.
While research has long indicated that the elderly are at an elevated risk of death as temperatures rise, due to heatstroke and an increase in heart and lung problems, this new study is the first to demonstrate that rising temperatures will increase mortality rates in younger people. The data predicts that there will be 1601 extra deaths in the US each year due to injuries, with 84% of the fatalities being men.
Transport and car crashes will be the major cause of these injury-related deaths, followed by suicide, and drowning. The study was not able to comment on why more men will be affected, it also was not able to provide evidence on exactly why rising temperatures increase the likeliness of these kinds of deaths. However, recent research has already explored the relationship between warm temperatures and certain types of fatality.
Back in 2018, the results of a ground-breaking study were published that determined that warmer temperatures increase suicide rates. The study claimed that heat has a profound impact on the human mind, influencing how we decide to inflict harm. However, the mechanisms underlying this remain elusive, although they are thought to be linked to the reasons why we feel increased levels of aggression in the heat.
In addition, other recent studies have shown how driving behaviors deteriorate as temperatures rise, resulting in a greater number of accidents. One study, in particular, has found that harsh braking and speeding increases as temperatures increase, two factors of reckless driving which have been shown to increase by 30% and 25% respectively as temperatures increase.
Driving on weekday nights, the time of the week when accidents are more prevalent, is more likely as the temperatures become warmer. Again, this behavior has been linked to the increase in feelings of aggression that people experience in hot temperatures, with some scientists liking this to rising heart rates and blood pressure. Dehydration has also been highlighted as a possible contributing factor, with its effects including anxiety and irritability.
These studies highlight the urgent need to avoid global warming at all costs, with evidence bringing to light yet another negative impact of rising temperatures.
Global Warming and Violent Behavior. Association for Psychological Science. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/global-warming-and-violent-behavior
Climate change-related injuries will kill thousands in the US. Newscientist. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2229627-climate-change-related-injuries-will-kill-thousands-in-the-us/