WASHINGTON Psychologists are offering new insight and solutions to help counter climate change, while helping people cope with the environmental, economic and health impacts already taking a toll on people's lives, according to a special issue of American Psychologist, the American Psychological Association's flagship journal.
Climate change "poses significant risks for and in many cases is already affecting a broad range of human and natural systems," according to the May-June issue's introductory article, "Psychology's Contributions to Understanding and Addressing Global Climate Change." The authors call upon psychologists to increase research and work closely with industry, government and education to address climate change.
The role psychologists can play may be different from what many people expect. "Psychological contributions to limiting climate change will come not from trying to change people's attitudes, but by helping to make low-carbon technologies more attractive and user-friendly, economic incentives more transparent and easier to use, and information more actionable and relevant to the people who need it," wrote Paul C. Stern, PhD, of the National Research Council.
In the United States, "motor vehicle use and space heating are the most significant causes of climate change and therefore the most important targets for emissions reduction," according to Stern's article, "Contributions of Psychology to Limiting Climate Change."
"People's individual and household action has a larger aggregate climate impact than any other economic sector, with as much as 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from direct energy use by households," Stern wrote.
Psychology is essential to understanding the human causes and consequences of climate change, according to the introductory article's lead author, Jane K. Swim, PhD, of Pennsylvania State University and former chair of the APA Task Force on the Interfac
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American Psychological Association