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The Psychology of Climate Change

OPB | Sept. 17, 2013 12:30 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 27, 2013 1:57 p.m.

The new but growing field of ecopsychology is focused on what makes climate change so daunting to confront. A recent Time magazine article asked why, in the face of public opinion polls showing a significant majority of Americans believe the planet is warming, we have failed to take significant action.

That’s what Portland researcher Renee Lertzman spends her days thinking about. She says the reasons humans have had a hard time dealing with climate change are related to how we are hardwired to deal with threats. And those posed by a warming planet are indirect, slow-moving and complex — all factors, she says, that are problematic. Lertzman is one of those in the ecopsychology field who are trying to come up with new approaches to communicating about climate change and by so doing, help change behaviors.

How do you think about climate change? Do you have questions about changing the way we think about climate change?

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