Psychology's contributions to understanding and addressing global climate change

J. K. Swim, P. C. Stern, T. J. Doherty, S. Clayton, J. P. Reser, E. U. Weber, R. Gifford, and G. S. Howard

The American Psychologist (May 2011)

DOI: 10.1037/a0023220

Global climate change poses one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in this century. This article, which introduces the American Psychologist special issue on global climate change, follows from the report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change. In this article, we place psychological dimensions of climate change within the broader context of human dimensions of climate change by addressing (a) human causes of, consequences of, and responses (adaptation and mitigation) to climate change and (b) the links between these aspects of climate change and cognitive, affective, motivational, interpersonal, and organizational responses and processes. Characteristics of psychology that cross content domains and that make the field well suited for providing an understanding of climate change and addressing its challenges are highlighted. We also consider ethical imperatives for psychologists' involvement and provide suggestions for ways to increase psychologists' contribution to the science of climate change.

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