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Climate Change Refugees

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Climate Change and Human Well-Being

Abstract

While the definition of “refugee” varies by different international organizations, all include aspects of displacement (Williams & Westermeyer, 1986). However, because of the slower nature of the events, climate change will also create a new kind of refugee who will be either nondisplaced or minimally displaced geographically, but who instead will be distressed by a new environment that has been displaced onto them. These climate change refugees will be defined less by displacement and more by resources that are lost or redistributed in their environment. Whether displaced or not, the primary resources that will be at risk and that have a powerful impact on mental well-being will be stability of place, identity, and belonging, and, along with these, internal physiological homeostasis. Mental health outcomes will be determined by individual and group capacity to adapt to new conditions. After discussing theoretical and applied concepts of the resources at risk and adverse mental health outcomes, we provide a framework for how the global community might prevent and treat psychosocial problems associated with climate change.

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Hollifield, M., Fullilove, M.T., Hobfoll, S.E. (2011). Climate Change Refugees. In: Weissbecker, I. (eds) Climate Change and Human Well-Being. International and Cultural Psychology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-9742-5_8

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