Climate Psychology and Action Lab
“This is the tragedy of climate change science: the compulsion to do ever more research on climate change when the science-society contract is broken. The tragedy is continuing research when the problem is political, diverting attention away from where the problem truly lies, and being gaslighted into crafting new scientific institutions, strategies, collaborations and methodologies.” – Glavovic et al. 2021
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 a high emissions pathway (which appears to be compatible with our current trajectory) 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 (of course those estimates will be much lower if emissions are dramatically cut soon – but emissions from burning fossil fuels reached a record in 2022). If we stay on a high emissions pathway, the insurer Swiss Re estimates that, by 2050, climate change could cost the world 23 trillion per annum.
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.
After 20 years doing neuroscience Adam switched to trying to prevent climate & ecological breakdown. He has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and did a postdoc at UCLA. Google Scholar | CV.
Ella Miles-Urdan, undergraduate
Tajairi Brown-Neuson, undergraduate
Megan Phelps, research assistant
Rian Drexler, graduate
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.
Haley is working towards a BS in Social Psychology with a minor in Climate Change and Human Solutions at UCSD. She is interested in building more resilient communities to combat climate change. She is currently working as a research assistant on a project about climate activism.
NSF SBE postdoctoral scholar at the UCSD Psychology Department.
Tal studies moral development, reasoning, and decision-making and is committed to using research to help inform and make progress on everyday ethical issues (e.g. climate action, scientific integrity). https://www.twaltzer.com/
Cameron is at the University of Amsterdam, and brings strong social and environmental psychology expertise to support our studies, such as this one on trying to trigger climate activism. His website: www.cameronbrick.com
International Visiting Student
Pauline visited UCSD for 2021/2022 from Münster, Germany where she is enrolled in the M.Sc. Clinical Psychology program. She continues to work with us on a project on climate anxiety.
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.