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Study: extreme weather becoming predictor of negative mental health outcomes

As modern people, it can be easy to forget the role external environment plays in our well-being. Yet as the winter solstice approaches, millions will experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition triggered by fluctuations in light and temperature. The “gloomy rainy day” is, naturally, a cliché based in reality. Now, research suggests that in addition to the cyclical malaise brought on by seasons, climate change threatens to further destabilize mental health.

A study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) sought to determine what correlation, if any, exists between extreme weather and increased mental health burdens. A team of scientists from MIT and Harvard examined the frequency of negative mental health experiences among respondents for a given time period, then looked at corresponding meteorological data to see how extreme weather patterns coincided with psychological duress.

What they found was that respondents exposed to extreme weather (for example, multiple days with temperatures >30 ˚C or >25 days of rain in a single month) were 1-4% more likely to report increased mental burdens. Unsurprisingly, the highest increase was reported by people affected by Hurricane Katrina. More generally, low income respondents and women were at higher risk than their high income or male counterparts.

If this increase seems marginal, consider that the time period studied (2002-2011) is nearly a decade behind us. Given the positive feedback provided by melting ice and permafrost, further warming is certain, and with it, exacerbated mental health problems. And obvious or not, such a trend is alarming. This psychosomatic reaction to material stressors reflects a biological imbalance whose repercussions we now have no choice but to interpret in real time as they unfold. Homo sapiens evolved to thrive in equilibrium with a particular environment. The explosion of carbon emissions since the industrial revolution has compromised the homeostasis upon which our entire ecology depends.

The good news is that we remain a clever, if increasingly mentally burdened, species. People consistently devise ingenious solutions to the problems they face. But time is getting away from us. As long as prevailing economic ideologies insist upon the ceaseless conversion of commodity into capital, accepting prima facie the imperatives of growth, we are left with few spaces where real conservation is possible.

Energy is one of those spaces. To be sure, policy reform can be an uphill battle against the incumbent carbon fuels. But at the same time, great strides are being made in the technology of photovoltaic generation. For example, Dr. Nish Sonwalkar has developed a new solar panel coating that boosts solar energy absorption by 20+%. Such a breakthrough could represent the tipping point in making solar tech a more viable target for venture capital. If renewable energy is to upend the carbon fuel paradigm, research and development must continue to achieve these kinds of breakthroughs in efficiency.

As Founder and Chief Evangelist of Power2Peer, Dr. Sonwalkar is committed to a next-gen vision of solar based not just in panel efficiency, but a rethinking of energy distribution at its core. In light of recent policy reform in the state of Massachusetts, community solar projects now have an enhanced potential to take hold, as a previously detrimental cap on credits has been lifted by the “SMART” order.

With the blockchain-enabled advanced solar microgrid, Power2Peer provides customers a way to buy and sell solar directly at the local level, ensuring that excess solar energy is never wasted. Rather than excess solar generation being wasted or sent back to the grid, owners of residential or commercial solar will be able to obtain fair market value locally for their energy. By leaning more on solar, communities will also provide themselves with more resilient systems that can withstand the extreme weather that has become so common. By saving money, Power2Peer customers will help save our environment by significantly shrinking their carbon footprint.

We all share a vested interest in the future of our planet. Now, thanks to Regulation CF, anyone can own a financial stake in the success of the green energy revolution. Power2Peer is currently conducting a crowdfunding equity campaign via StartEngine. So why not invest in something that makes moral sense as well as financial sense? Your investment will help enact a paradigm shift long overdue, which may represent our last hope of curbing climate change before it’s too late. Join the green revolution today—invest in something that will bring not only a return, but peace of mind.

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