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Climate Adaptation

Mental Health Could Be the Next Casualty of Global Warming

Cyclones, wildfires, floods and the knowledge they’ll get worse are fueling a rising tide of anxiety. Therapists are trying to cope.

Evacuated residents watch the Tamarack Fire near Markleeville, California, on July 17. 

Evacuated residents watch the Tamarack Fire near Markleeville, California, on July 17. 

Photographer: David Odisho/Bloomberg

One evening in July, Stephanie Felts was lying in bed trying to process simultaneous climate disasters all over the world. From a crushing Canadian heatwave to U.S. wildfires and China floods, the drumbeat triggered memories of a close call her family had with a raging inferno when they lived in Salt Lake City a few years ago. 

“I just realized, OK, this is as good as it will ever be—not because we can’t do anything to make things better, but because we just won’t,” said Felts, 43, who works in financial services and now lives near Atlanta. “It makes you feel like, ‘hey, the apocalypse is starting.’”