Perceptions of climate change


Human interactions with climate occur at all levels but so far research has focused on governments, industries and on the technological, demographic and economic trends that drive climate change; factors that influence decisions and behaviour at the individual level have received less attention. But, individual behaviour drives societal change via adoption of technologies and support for policies.

Unless we examine what factors influence mitigation and adaptation behaviours and how climate change will affect human well-being, we will be unable to respond effectively as a society. Ignoring insights from psychological research will handicap progress towards a low-carbon, sustainable future.

Climate change will affect well-being in ways that are often overlooked. Awareness of these impacts encourages public engagement and encourages effective adaptations that minimize negative effects and capitalize on possibilities for more positive changes. Community preparedness can be improved by considering these processes in the design of education and messaging. It is time to develop effective ways to integrate psychological research into these efforts.

To successfully communicate about risk, change behaviours that contribute to climate change and facilitate adaptation, it is necessary to consider individual capabilities, cognitive processes, biases, values, beliefs, norms, identities and social relationships, and to integrate this understanding into broader understanding of human interactions with a changing climate.