Climate Change and Psychology
Climate change affects humans and natural environments today and particularly in the future. There are many technical mitigation solutions that could be adopted to solve the problem.
Psychological knowledge of human nature can be useful when we are trying to understand why some people take action on climate change while others do not. In addition to scientific research, psychology can be applied to environmental legislation in order to create financial incentives, energy efficient technologies, strategies and techniques to improve environmental communication. It also provides tools to improve self-knowledge and activate inner resources in challenging situations. Therefore, psychology plays an important role in understanding climate change in-depth and building a climate-friendly world.
Psychosocial Impacts of Climate Change
Globally, climate change causes many types of health problems, such as heat-related deaths, infectious diseases transmitted by insects and water-borne diseases associated with droughts. Besides the physical symptoms, climate change affects mental health in different ways.
Our Brain tricks us to become less Concerned
Because of its complexity and large scale, climate change is a problem most of us would rather not think about – and successfully we do just that most of the time. The human brain is extraordinary good at protecting itself from unpleasant messages, even if it this would be harmful in the long run.
Psychology as a Tool to encourage Action
Although many believe climate change is real and that something should be done, it does not necessarily lead to personal engagement. Often there is a great conflict between attitudes and behaviour. Psychology can provide tools to promote more ambitious behavioural responses to climate change, although there is no straightforward path to this. Similar tools are applied in marketing to make us consume more and compare our consumer behaviour to others. Therefore, psychology skills include media literacy.
Climate Change Adaption has already begun
Even if mitigation would be successful and exceed all expectations, we should nevertheless be prepared to face the consequences of climate change for at least many decades. Therefore climate adaptation has already begun. Typically climate adaptation refers to technical solutions, such as flood risk management and adapting buildings to climate change, but it also applies to personal and social psychological preparation and adaptation.