September 9, 2018

Climate change is arguably the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. It’s so big, it’s also likely to trigger depression, stress or other mental health issues. So, what can we do and more immediately, how can we keep our mental health strong as we engage with this challenge? The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has tackled this head on with their Climate Change Empowerment Handbook. The handbook covers the nature of the threat, cognitive biases we need to overcome, and a eight strategies that can help people more effectively engage with the challenge of climate change. APS also created a nifty graphic using the acronym ACTIVATE to illustrate the eight strategies.

Green Team Academy Podcast with Joan Gregerson
Episode 25

Time-stamped notes
[1:00] The more you know about climate change, the more weighty it feels.

[1:15] Free resource: Climate Change Empowerment Handbook from the Australian Psychological Society

[1:45] Cognitive biases and strategies to engage more effectively

[2:00] Cognitive biases:

  • How humans make sense of facts does not simply follow from rational interpretations of scientific evidence.
  • Exaggerate some and downplay others
  • Climate change risk gets downplayed
  • Influenced by our values and beliefs
  • Tendency to think that the way things are now is right and just
  • Cognitive dissonance: what we know conflicts with what we do

[5:00] Psychology helps people cope with and come to terms with climate change.

[5:30] ACTIVATE recommended strategies:

  • A: Acknowledge feels
  • C: Create social norms
  • T: Talk about it
  • I: Inspire positive visions
  • V: Value it
  • A: Act
  • T: Time is now
  • E: Engage with nature

[6:00] I’d also add (but would mess up the acronym):

  • G: Gratitude and awe
  • S: Self-care

[7:30] Resources: Climate Change Empowerment Handbook, Graphic with the ACTIVATE strategies and Episode 5

[8:10] I don’t know about you but listening to those strategies make me hopeful.

[8:20] Understanding the psychology behind it helps us understand why we haven’t been able to change and what we need to do.


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The time for action is now because there is no Planet B!


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