Climate Psychology and Action Lab

We take seriously the prospect of climate breakdown and a disruption of organized human existence in our lifetimes. The IPCC 2021 report estimated that on the current high emissions pathway we are likely to experience global heating of 2.4 C above preindustrial levels in the 2041 to 2060 timeframe, and 4.4 C in the 2081 to 2100 timeframe. One IPCC lead author declared that this large global average change would create conditions that would be “beyond human physiology”.

Our lab is connected with the Green New Deal at UCSD (a grassroots climate justice and action movement) and also with ElectrifyUC (a wider 10 campus grouping).

Our research is concerned with sociobehavioral approaches to get the policy support to dramatically reduce emissions, by leaving fossil fuels in the ground, shifting to renewable energy, confronting extractivism and reducing consumption. We are currently interested in two main themes:

From Skepticism to Belief. Skepticism comes in different flavors. While few US adults are skeptical about global heating, about 43% still doubt it is human-caused. Of those who DO accept anthropogenic global heating, many remain skeptical about the risks/impacts. And of those who accept both anthropogenic cause and risk/impacts, many remain skeptical about the prospects for a response – be it personal, collective, national or international. We are interested in research studies that aim to better understand how to accelerate shifts in these beliefs.

From Belief to Collective Action. Our analysis is that institutions and political systems, left to their typical devices, are simply incapable of stopping with fossil energy and fossil finance: they will need to be pushed from below by grassroots pressure at the local, state and national levels. Yet the grassroots collective action movement is tiny. We are interested in research that aims to better understand how to grow it.

Anna Castiglione

Co-Director

Anna received a MA from UCSD in psychology, where she was a recipient of the Jerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Endowed Fellowship. She is currently doing a Masters degree in Climate Physics in Trento Italy.

Rian Drexler

Graduate Student

Rian graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Psychology and Creative-Writing from UW-Eau Claire where she worked on how people’s ideological biases can override their ability to interpret data correctly. Rian is interested in enhancing the public’s understanding of science and propelling that understanding into real-life responses such as climate action.

Megan Elbel

Graduate Student

Megan graduated with Honors from University of Nebraska Lincoln with a Major in Psychology, and Minors in Political Science and National Security Studies. She plans to study the intersection of psychology and political action as it relates to the climate movement.

Pauline Brouër

International Visiting Student

Pauline is  visiting student from Münster, Germany where she is enrolled in the M.Sc. Clinical Psychology program. She holds a German Government (DAAD) scholarship to study Psychology at UCSD for the upcoming year, where she is interested in research examining climate anxiety.

Alumni

Ella-Miles Urdan, undergraduate

Adam Aron

Co-Director

Adam is a Professor in the UCSD Psychology Department. He spent 20 years doing neuroscience and recently switched his focus to try to prevent climate and ecological breakdown. Google Scholar. Adam has a PhD from the University of Cambridge and was a postdoc at UCLA.

Megan Phelps

Staff Research Assistant

Megan received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Management from UC Davis, where she graduated with honors as a Regents Scholar. Apart from her work in this lab she is also working with youth climate activists at SanDiego350, a local climate justice nonprofit.

TajairiBrown-Neuson

Undergraduate student

Tajairi is majoring in English with a minor in climate change studies and is temporarily interning with a US senator in DC.

Collaborator

Cameron Brick

Assistant Professor
Cameron is at the University of Amsterdam focusing on the climate crisis. www.cameronbrick.com

Members of the Green New Deal at UCSD stage a bank protest on the campus, Nov 30th, 2021, as part of the #StopTheMoneyPipeline movement. They demanded that UCSD switch from providing the retail banks, Bank of America, Wells, CITI and Chase in favor of credit unions, and that UCSD switch from using Bank of America for its main commercial (department) transactions in favor of a bank with much less exposure to fossil interests. Bank of America for example, has financed fossil extraction by nearly 150 billion dollars in the last four years: https://www.bankingonclimatechaos.org.