Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Psychology of Climate Change: The Slow Process of Change

     Change is hard. Anyone who has ever tried to give up a bad habit or take up a good habit can attest to this fact. And yet when we consider changing our societies to mitigate climate change, we naively assume that if we just figure out the right thing to do, somehow everything will fall into line. The fact of the matter is that change is a slow process, even for very minor changes. The greater the change and the more people involved in making it, the more difficult it will be to sustain.
     Community psychology has long explored the process of creating and maintaining community change. Much like the process a person goes through when attempting to change themselves for the better, a community must go through a series of steps to make lasting change. When you consider that the response to climate change means a planet-ful of communities must go through this same series of steps, you begin to realize the difficulty in responding to climate change.
     I teach a course at the University of Hawai`i, Mānoa called “Cultural Community Psychology and Global Climate Change.” In the short video mini-lecture below, I explain the steps taken to create and sustain a positive change. The societal and global changes necessary to adapt to climate change must incorporate this process if we want to implement lasting changes successfully.

Kati Corlew, M.A.

University of Hawai`i, Mānoa

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