New journal Nature Climate Change includes focus on behavioral and social sciences

Psychology receives broader attention from environmental scientists and policymakers.

Psychology is one of the primary disciplines to be represented in a new monthly publication within the high-impact Nature family of journals. The scope of Nature Climate Change, which will have its first issue in April 2011, will include original physical, biological, behavioral, and social science research, as well as news and opinion, on all aspects of global climate change and its consequences.  The journal succeeds a smaller online-only publication that the Nature Publishing Group sponsored in 2007-2010.

As noted in the publisher’s original announcement, it is the first Nature journal to publish work by social scientists. A special editorial advisory panel has been established to advise the journal’s editors in the areas of social science and policy.

The inclusion of the behavioral and social sciences in a major outlet for climate change research marks a recognition by the broader scientific community of the significant contributions that these fields can make to understanding and responding to climate change. Along with other discussions, a 2009 report by a task force of the American Psychological Association (APA), Psychology and Global Climate Change, helped to raise awareness of the relevance of scientific research on human behavior for addressing climate change.

Other indications of increased interest in behavioral science approaches to environmental issues have emerged in recent months. In November 2010, the Ecological Society of America held an initial meeting with representatives of behavioral and social science organizations, including APA, to share information and plan collaborative activities for supporting and applying interdisciplinary research on changes occuring in the earth’s biosphere. And in January 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a U.S. federal government agency, distributed a call for names of behavioral and social scientists who could advise on the development of a behavioral sciences research agenda for EPA. 

APA will continue to track and contribute to efforts in this area.  Readers are invited to share their work and observations on the role of psychology in addressing environmental concerns by contacting the APA Science Directorate (phone: (202)-336-6000).