Lise Van Susteren, M.D.

Associate Professor, Daniel Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, George Washington University

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Lise Van Susteren is a board certified general and forensic psychiatrist. Dr. Van Susteren reports that climate change is an exceedingly grave threat and is currently damaging the mental health and wellbeing of the 13 youth plaintiffs. Children’s developing minds and bodies make them uniquely vulnerable to the harms of climate change and without a reduction in GHG emissions, the frequency of climate-related events and the magnitude of the damage will accelerate. For example, stress from traumatic experiences can permanently damage the developing prefrontal cortex, including stress from climate ordeals as well as anxiety about future events. Further, compared to someone born in 1960, a child born in 2020 is expected to be exposed to up to a seven-fold increase in extreme climate events such as heat waves and wildfires. Thus, Dr. Van Susteren reports that the greater the emissions of GHGs, the greater a child’s lifetime exposure to extreme climate events, and the harmful mental health consequences that follow. She also reports that youth plaintiffs are already experiencing both acute and chronic impacts to their mental health from climate disruption. She concludes that our children and posterity need help and youth plaintiffs are counting on the judicial system to protect them and their future.