Experts and psychologists are racing to understand how a volatile, unpredictable planet shapes our minds and mental health. In February, a major new study of climate change highlighted the mental health effects for the first time, saying that anxiety and stress from a changing climate were likely to increase in the coming years.
In addition to those who have lost their homes to floods and megafires, millions have endured record-breaking heat waves. The crisis also hits home in subtle, personal ways — withered gardens, receding lakeshores and quiet walks without the birdsong that once accompanied them.
To understand what the effects of climate change feel like in America today, we listened to hundreds of people. In cities already confronting the long-term effects of climate change, and in drought-scarred ranches and rangeland, many are trying to cope with the strains of an increasingly precarious future. As temperatures rise, extreme weather events will become more and more common.
Some people grieve the loss of serene hiking trails that have been engulfed by wildfire smoke while others no longer find the same joy or release from nature. Some are seeking counseling. Others are harnessing their anxiety for change by protesting or working to slow the damage.
"This is becoming a No. 1 threat to mental health," said Britt Wray, a Stanford University researcher and author of "Generation Dread," a forthcoming book about grappling with climate distress. "It can make day-to-day life incredibly hard to go on."
Psychologists and therapists say the distress of a changing climate can cause fleeting anxiety for some people but trigger much darker thoughts for others. In a 2020 survey, more than half of Americans reported feeling anxious about the climate's effect on their mental health, and more than two-thirds said they were anxious about how climate change would affect the planet.
A survey of people 16 to 25 in 10 countries published in The Lancet found that three-quarters were frightened of the future. More than half said humanity was doomed. Some feel betrayed by older generations and leaders. They say they feel angry but helpless as they watch people in power fail to act swiftly.
卡車燃料未來誰主導 電池或氫能？ Truck Makers Face Choice: Go Battery or Hydrogen？
Even before war in Ukraine sent fuel prices through the roof, the trucking industry was under intense pressure to kick its addiction to diesel, a major contributor to climate change and urban air pollution. But it still has to figure out which technology will best do the job.
Truck makers are divided into two camps. One faction, which includes Traton, Volkswagen's truck unit, is betting on batteries because they are widely regarded as the most efficient option. The other camp, which includes Daimler Truck and Volvo, the two largest truck manufacturers, argues that fuel cells that convert hydrogen into electricity — emitting only water vapor — make more sense because they would allow long-haul trucks to be refueled quickly.
The choice companies make could be hugely consequential, helping to determine who dominates trucking in the electric vehicle age and who ends up wasting billions of dollars on the Betamax equivalent of electric truck technology, committing a potentially fatal error. It takes years to design and produce new trucks, so companies will be locked into the decisions they make now for a decade or more.
"It's obviously one of the most important technology decisions we have to make," said Andreas Gorbach, a member of the management board of Daimler Truck, which owns Freightliner in the United States and is the largest truck maker in the world.
The stakes for the environment and for public health are also high. If many truck makers wager incorrectly, it could take much longer to clean up trucking than scientists say we have to limit the worst effects of climate change. In the United States, medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for 7% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Although sales of electric cars are exploding, large truck makers have only begun to mass-produce emission-free vehicles. Daimler Truck, for example, began producing an electric version of its heavy-duty Actros truck, with a maximum range of 240 miles, late last year. Tesla unveiled a design for a battery-powered semitruck in 2017 but has not set a firm production date.
Cost will be a decisive factor. Unlike car buyers, who might splurge on a vehicle because they like the way it looks or the status it conveys, truck buyers carefully calculate how much a rig is going to cost them to buy, maintain and refuel.