Title

The Psychological Impacts of Global Climate Change

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

An appreciation of the psychological impacts of global climate change entails recognizing the complexity and multiple meanings associated with climate change; situating impacts within other social, technological, and ecological transitions; and recognizing mediators and moderators of impacts. This article describes three classes of psychological impacts: direct (e.g., acute or traumatic effects of extreme weather events and a changed environment); indirect (e.g., threats to emotional well-being based on observation of impacts and concern or uncertainty about future risks); and psychosocial (e.g., chronic social and community effects of heat, drought, migrations, and climate-related conflicts, and postdisaster adjustment). Responses include providing psychological interventions in the wake of acute impacts and reducing the vulnerabilities contributing to their severity; promoting emotional resiliency and empowerment in the context of indirect impacts; and acting at systems and policy levels to address broad psychosocial impacts. The challenge of climate change calls for increased ecological literacy, a widened ethical responsibility, investigations into a range of psychological and social adaptations, and an allocation of resources and training to improve psychologists' competency in addressing climate change-related impacts. © 2011 American Psychological Association.

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