The 2021 Western North America Heat Dome Increased Climate Change Anxiety Among British Columbians: Results from a Natural Experiment

18 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2021

See all articles by Andreea Bratu

Andreea Bratu

University of British Columbia (UBC) - School of Population and Public Health

Kiffer G. Card

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Kalysha Closson

British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Niloufar Aran

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Carly Marshall

British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Susan Clayton

College of Wooster

Maya Gislason

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Hasina Samji

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Gina Martin

Athabasca University

Melissa Lem

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Carmen Logi

University of Toronto

Tim K. Takaro

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Faculty of Health Sciences

Robert S. Hogg

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Abstract

Introduction: Extreme weather events caused by climate change pose a risk to mental health. Illustrating this reality, this study estimates the impact of the 2021 Western North American heat dome (June 25 th , 2021 – July 1 st , 2021) on climate change anxiety among British Columbians. Methods: We conducted an online survey of British Columbians, aged > 16. Participants were recruited using paid advertisements on social media. Data were collected pre- and post- heat dome between May 12 th , 2021 - June 21 st, 2021 (n = 439), and July 15 th , 2021 - July 18 th , 2021 (n = 420), respectively. A multivariable inverse Gaussian regression model tested differences in Climate Change Anxiety Scale (CCAS) scores pre- and post- heat dome. Potential confounders measured included age, gender, ethnicity, education, income, and political orientation. CCAS reliability was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha. Results: Most participants indicated that they were much (40.1%) or somewhat (18.4%) more worried about climate change due to the heat dome. Mean CCAS scores increased from 1.66 (standard deviation [SD]= 0.80) to 1.87 (SD = 0.87) pre- and post- heat dome, respectively. In multivariable modelling, this effect was significant after controlling for potential confounders (Estimate = 0.057, standard error= 0.148, p<0.001). The CCAS reliability was high (Cronbach’s alpha= 0.94). Discussion: Our results found that British Columbians had significantly higher climate change anxiety following the 2021 Western North American heat dome. Ongoing monitoring of climate change anxiety is needed to understand the impact of individual and compounding climate change-related weather events over time.

Keywords: Climate Change, Anxiety, Mental Health, Extreme Heat, Environmental Health, Climate Adaptation

Suggested Citation

Bratu, Andreea and Card, Kiffer G. and Closson, Kalysha and Aran, Niloufar and Marshall, Carly and Clayton, Susan and Gislason, Maya and Samji, Hasina and Martin, Gina and Lem, Melissa and Logi, Carmen and Takaro, Tim K. and Hogg, Robert S., The 2021 Western North America Heat Dome Increased Climate Change Anxiety Among British Columbians: Results from a Natural Experiment. JOCLIM-D-21-00153, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3969714

Andreea Bratu (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) - School of Population and Public Health ( email )

Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada

Kiffer G. Card

Simon Fraser University (SFU) ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, V5A1S6
Canada

Kalysha Closson

British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS ( email )

Canada

Niloufar Aran

Simon Fraser University (SFU) ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, V5A1S6
Canada

Carly Marshall

British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS ( email )

Canada

Susan Clayton

College of Wooster ( email )

Wooster, OH 44691
United States

Maya Gislason

Simon Fraser University (SFU) ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, V5A1S6
Canada

Hasina Samji

Simon Fraser University (SFU) ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, V5A1S6
Canada

Gina Martin

Athabasca University ( email )

Edmonton, T6H 2H2
Canada

Melissa Lem

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Yellowknife
Canada

Carmen Logi

University of Toronto ( email )

105 St George Street
Toronto, M5S 3G8
Canada

Tim K. Takaro

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Faculty of Health Sciences ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada

Robert S. Hogg

Simon Fraser University (SFU) ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, V5A1S6
Canada

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