Resolution on Affirming Psychologists’ Role in Addressing Global Climate Change

Whereas there is near consensus among climate scientists that global climate change is occurring faster than anticipated, starting in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and there will be greater global climate change if greenhouse gases are not reduced (Confalonieri et al., 2007; Gilman, Randall, & Schwartz, 2007; Sokolov, et al., in press); 
 
Whereas climate scientists now agree that recent dramatic climate change is associated with human behavior that has resulted in increasing emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2; CH4; N2O)(IPCC, 2007; National Research Council, 2010; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2009;), and psychologists can provide a behavioral analyses of such contributions (APA Task report on Global Climate Change);

Whereas there is a need for inter- and cross-disciplinary research on Global Climate Change that includes the social and behavioral sciences, and psychologists have been and are collaborators and participants in such research (APA Task report on Global Climate Change, Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, 2009; Fischhoff, B., & Furby, L., 1983; National Research Council, 2010);

Whereas the impacts of climate change are increasing globally and include the destruction of habitats and subsequent threats to endangered species, acidity of water, disasters (e.g. forest fires), extreme weather (e.g., hurricanes, heat waves), decreasing availability of water, and spreading of diseases, harming plants, wildlife, human physical heath, settlements, and psychological well-being, and are a threat to social, economic, and environmental sustainability (IPCC, 2007; APA task force report on Psychology and Climate Change, 2009);

Whereas psychologists have shown a concern about individual and institutional discrimination (e.g., APA Resolution on Poverty and SES, 2000; APA resolution on Prejudice, Stereotypes, and Discrimination, 2006); and climate change has already had disproportionate impact on the poor, including greater impacts on women and children, on rural regions and their inhabitants, and is anticipated to have greater effects on already disadvantaged populations including but not limited to persons with disabilities (APA task force report on Psychology and Climate Change, 2009; International Disability and Development Consortium, 2008; National Research Council, 2010);

Whereas the APA in its mission and vision statements and in its ethical code of conduct indicates that psychologists are committed to creating, applying, and communicating our knowledge to improving individual and societal conditions and facilitating the resolution of global challenges;

Whereas there is a persistent resistance among many to accept the findings of climate change science due to a variety of psychological and social factors, ranging from not knowing or understanding the science and scientific review processes, to psychological threats that accompany accepting global climate change, to outright manipulation of science designed to undermine belief in both climate change and human’s contribution to climate change (Feygina, Goldsmith, & Jost, in press; Flynn, Slovic & Kunreuther, 2001; Kazdi, 2009; Moser and Dilling, 2007; Pidgeon, Kasperson, & Slovic, 2003; APA Task report on Global Climate Change; Vess & Arndt, 2008).

Whereas psychology as a discipline is well-suited to address important behavioral and methodological aspects of understanding human behavioral contribution and responses to global climate change (APA task force report on Psychology and Climate Change (Clayton & Brook, 2005, Gifford, 2007; Uzzell & Moser, 2009);

Whereas APA is committed to education in psychology and the dissemination of sound psychological science both in and out of the classroom.

Whereas APA Council approved a research agenda on environmental problems proposed by a 1993 Task Force on Psychology and Environmental Problems (Cvetkovich, G.T. & Wener, R., 1994).;

Therefore it is resolved that APA reaffirms its recognition of the importance of psychological aspects of human environment relations;

Therefore it is resolved that APA supports psychologists’ involvement in scientific research on global climate change and on the role of human behavior as a significant contributor to these changes;

Therefore it is resolved that APA recognizes the current and anticipated psycho-social impacts of climate change, especially for already underprivileged and marginalized groups, in addition to the bio- and geo-physical impact and the ethical imperative of addressing climate change via adaptation and mitigation;

Therefore it is resolved that APA recognizes the role of psycho-social processes in perceptions and beliefs about global climate change that can potentially hinder public understanding of global climate change.

Therefore it is resolved that APA supports psychologists’ involvement in research, education, and community interventions in improving public understanding of global climate change impacts and psychological contributions to mitigation and adaptation efforts that address both environmental and human, including psychological, impacts of Global Climate Change.

References

Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (2009). The Psychology of Climate Change Communication: A Guide for Scientists, Journalists, Educators, Political Aides, and the Interested Public. (http://www.cred.columbia.edu/guide/).

Clayton, S., & Brook, A. (2005). Can psychology help save the world? A model for conservation
psychology.  Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy (ASAP), 5(1), 87-102.
Cvetkovich, G.T. & Wener, R. (1994). How can psychology help save the planet: A research
agenda on environmental problems. Statement distributed by the APA Taskforce on Psychology and

Environmental Problems. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Fischhoff, B., & Furby, L. (1983). Psychological dimensions of climatic change. In Social Science research and climate change: An interdisciplinary appraisal. R. S. Chen, E. Boulding, S. H. Schneider (eds), pp. 180-203. Dordrecht: Reidel.

Gifford, R. (2007). Environmental Psychology and Sustainable Development: Expansion, Maturation, and Challenges. Journal of Social Issues. 63(1), 199-212.

International Disability and Development Consortium Statement to Human Rights Council Resolution 7/23 “Human Rights and Climate Change.

Kazdin, A. E. (2009). Psychological science’s contributions to a sustainable environment:
Extending our reach to a grand challenge of society. American Psychologist. 64(5), 339-356.

National Research Council.  (2010).  Advancing the science of climate change.  Washington:  National Academies Press.

Uzzell, D., & Moser, G. (2009). Introduction: Environmental psychology on the move. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 29(3), 307-308.