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Climate Change Unknowns: Human Psychology 

28 Desember 2011 06:59:44

Climate Change Unknowns:  Human Psychology


Climate change debates can go amongst the experts for ages. But the question is, are the topics under discussion pertinent enough to be discussed? Probably, this is the point to ponder. Climate Change might give us questions which might influence our lives discreetly but we hardly dig out any time to realize their importance. One such missing link in the climate change debate is its implications of human psychology.

Science believes that it is only the humans and the anthropogenic activities which are major contributors of Green House gasses and bring about climate change. So, this implies that it should be the humans who should realize what they have done and what they are doing to damage the fragile environment, which does not seem to have any more capacity to tolerate the injustice being done to it.

It is a common practice; if you try to persuade a person to do or to leave a certain practice he will not do that unless he is convinced.  People simply don't worry about things they can't see or even imagine. People have various levels of adaptability, and they can argue unless fully convinced through practical applications. Now, what could be the most desirable practice to convince the people to stop using fossil fuels, reduce deforestation, conserve energy and protect environment? This is where we find the space for what we are trying to spot: The human psychology!

Human psychology and its manipulation is a complicated process. It might take decades to bring about any change in the behaviors of societies. So, how can we make the people realize the worth of the climate and its significance to mother earth? The issue that troubles us here is, no human could ever be threatened by the vivid phenomenon of climate change unless he is personally intimidated. As long as it’s not his personal life, which is sabotaged, he considers it vague, abstract and difficult to visualize. We are still in a dilemma that how could we make the issue more relevant to the people. What could bring the change? Intuition? Impulse? Rational criteria?

A few of the suggestions that have been provided by the climate change scientists provide us a limited idea of what could be given a try. As per the human psyche, only fear could motivate the behavioral changes. The effort of diverting the societies towards the climate change prevention activities would only work when people would feel personal vulnerability. Similarly, another approach says that the mind sets could be manipulated through associating the personal benefits with general benefits.

Here, this article is an appeal to all the anthropologists, psychologists and especially the social scientists, which could help. It is only through them that the habits of the people responsible for bringing about climate change must be influenced through positive debates and behavioral changes. The climate change happenings should be made evident to the general public. Even the lay man should be aware of the fact that this issue is inevitable. This has its impacts on the grass root levels. This has strong connections to economy, agriculture, politics and various vital concerns of everyday life.

The developed countries have already started to take measures to address the process of thinking of their societies for climate change. Earlier this year, the American Psychological Association published an extensive review of psychology's contribution to tackling climate change. Similarly, the British Psychological Society held its inaugural meeting on the psychology of climate change on 27th October,2011. Psychology is one such important dimension that can bring about shifts towards sustainability. It is the need of the hour that the societies should be dealt with a pragmatic approach. The language should be adopted which could make and break the human habits. Let the people have minds turning on climate issues.

Anusha Sherazi

Environment and Climate Change Scientist

Pickering, Ontario


Email: anusha_sherazi87@yahoo.com