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Introducing Climate Psychology: facing the climate crisis
Introducing Climate Psychology: facing the climate crisis

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Week 1: The climate and ecological crisis and how we got here


This week, the scene is set for the emerging area called Climate Psychology. Climate Psychology, according to the Handbook available at the Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) website is ‘a new way of understanding our collective paralysis in the face of worsening climate change’ (Climate Psychology Alliance, 2023).

In this course you’ll learn how difficult it is for people to face the reality of climate change and what style of communication is needed to reach people. Activities are designed to help go beyond a dry intellectual knowledge of climate breakdown to enable some familiarity with the psychological challenges of recognising it as a serious threat to humans and millions of other species.

The climate and ecological crisis is situated historically in three ways: deep (geological) time, the more recent history of modernity, and the ‘Great Acceleration’ period since the 1950s, when the principle of infinite growth collides with the finite resources of planet Earth. Climate Psychology asks what it is about how humans live on the planet and what needs to change; it critically examines the emphasis on individual behaviour change. It widens horizons from the global north (those countries characterised by high economic and industrial development) to look at recent international agreements that recognise ‘loss and damage’ in nations of the global south (those countries characterised by low economic and industrial development).

In this week you will:

  • reflect on how it feels to face the climate and ecological crisis
  • consider the crisis within three time periods
  • learn about our modern relationship with nature and an ecopsychological perspective
  • learn about the role of consumerism
  • critique the role of the international conference that works for agreement on addressing the climate crisis
  • consider the issue of social justice.