Climate change threatens people's mental health in many ways. A study now shows a surprising connection. Accordingly, temperatures outside the comfort spectrum ensure that users on the Internet spread more hate comments.
According to a recent study, temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius fuel hate speech online. According to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), this applies to all climate zones and socio-economic differences such as income or political preferences. For their analysis, the researchers combined around 75 million hate messages posted on Twitter in the USA with weather data.
Based on this data, they found that few hate messages are posted across the United States in a "feel good window" of 12 to 21 degrees - and very few between 15 and 18 degrees. However, with hotter and colder temperatures, hate speech increased. The exact "feel-good window" varies depending on the climate zone - depending on what temperatures are usual.
However, according to the analysis published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, temperatures above 30 degrees are consistently associated with a sharp increase in online hate across all climate zones and socio-economic differences. The researchers write that this points to the limits of human adaptability to extreme temperatures. Hate online, in turn, has been shown to have a negative impact on the mental health of those affected.
"Even in high-income areas, where people can afford air conditioning and have other means of heat regulation, we see an increase in aggression on extremely hot days - starting at 30 degrees, it skyrockets," explained one of the study's authors, Anders Leverman. There is a limit to what people can endure. This adaptation limit to extreme temperatures is possibly even lower than that set by the pure physiology of our body.
The results show that hate speech online is a new channel through which climate change can affect social cohesion and people's mental health, study leader Leonie Wentz said. A very rapid and drastic reduction in emissions will therefore not only benefit the outside world. "Protecting our climate from too much warming is also crucial for our mental health."