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New research examines American’s reluctance to accept climate change

October 06, 2009

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    Thomas Doherty, Lewis & Clark adjunct faculty member in counseling and psychology

Despite scientific evidence that confirms global climate change is real, Gallup Polls show that many Americans believe its seriousness is exaggerated.

To discover the reasons why Americans don’t believe global warming is an immediate threat, the American Psychological Association formed the Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change.

“We looked at issues ranging from the known effects of events like hurricane Katrina to developing knowledge about the emotional and psychological effects of climate change messages in the media,” said Thomas Doherty, Lewis & Clark adjunct faculty member in counseling and psychology who served on the APA’s task force. “We also discussed issues like diversity and social and economic disparities among those who are directly impacted by climate change.”

The only clinician on the task force, Doherty took the lead on addressing the psychosocial impacts of climate change. As a result of the task force’s research, the APA released a 225-page report that urges psychologists to play a larger role in limiting the effects of climate change.