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CLIMATE REQUIRES US TO FIGHT OUR OWN PSYCHOLOGY

Human psychology can put up barriers to fighting climate change, but a new article suggests strategies and policies to overcome them.

Human psychology influences the decisions we make every day—including unwise ones. Our psychological profile can make us reluctant to pay for services that benefit everyone, including those who don’t contribute. It makes us focus on achieving short-term gains and avoiding short-term losses. And, most importantly, it prompts us to engage in rationalization and denial rather than tackle difficult challenges.

In the article in BioScience, scientists explore these barriers and suggest strategies involving education, marketing, norm-creation, use of “default options,” and various behavior interventions that could overcome these barriers to meeting the challenge of climate change.

“The costs of inaction could be catastrophic in terms of loss of food production, rising seas, poverty, and other threats to human health and welfare,” says coauthor Lee Ross, a professor of psychology at Stanford University.

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