Hope, Health, and the Climate Crisis

Elsevier, Journal of Climate Change and Health, Volume 5, February 2022
Frumkin H.

Hope has been viewed since ancient times as a bedrock of human thriving, and contemporary evidence suggests that hope is a determinant of health. However, the climate crisis, in addition to its many direct and indirect threats to human health, erodes hope in many people. This article describes medical aspects of hope and hopelessness, including clinical definitions, measurement methods, and treatments. It then touches on literary and philosophical perspectives on hope, from both ancient and modern sources, emphasizing the centrality of hope to human thriving. Finally, it applies these clinical and cultural perspectives to the climate crisis, arguing that health professionals should propel hope in themselves, their patients, and the broader society, and drawing on clinical insights to propose concrete ways of doing so.