Final version of APA Climate Change report released

Learn how people understand the risks of climate change, psychosocial impacts of climate change and more

By Howard S. Kurtzman and Nicolle Singer

The final version of Psychology and Global Climate Change: Addressing a Multi-faceted Phenomenon and Set of Challenges, the report of the APA Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change, has been posted (PDF, 11 MB) on the APA website. This copyedited version appears as a 108-page booklet with graphics.

An initial version of the report was released and formally received by the APA Council of Representatives in August, 2009 (see previous article in PSA).  Since then, the report and the task force have been covered in over 40 news outlets and blogs, including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Globe and Mail, Nature, New Scientist, Reuters, CNN International, National Public Radio and Huffington Post.
 
Task force members and APA staff have also discussed the report at numerous research and policy gatherings, including the annual Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference (held in November in Washington, DC); a United Nations nongovernmental organization meeting on Women and Climate Change (in September in New York City); and the World Town Planning Day conference (in November in Cape Town, South Africa).
 
The report synthesizes current scientific literature and thinking on such topics as: 

  • how people understand the risks of climate change 

  • psychological and contextual determinants of human behaviors that affect climate 

  • psychosocial impacts of climate change 

  • how people adapt to and cope with threats related to climate change 

  • psychological factors that drive and limit action on climate change 

  • the roles of psychologists in responding to climate change

The report contains material that can be used by researchers, practitioners, policymakers, community and political activists, and teachers at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels. The APA government relations staff is disseminating the report as part of its advocacy efforts to gain support for behavioral and social science research on climate change at the Department of Energy and other federal agencies.

Janet Swim of Pennsylvania State University, chair of the task force, is pleased with the initial reception of the report. “There has been a wide range of responses to the document, ranging mostly from curiosity to praise,” she says. “These have come from the lay public, organizations, and climate science experts. For some, the document appears to fill a void while, for others, it expands their thoughts about climate change. We hope the document continues to inform and inspire others.” 

Further information about the report and related policy recommendations can be found on the task force’s website.