Adapting to and Coping With the Threat and Impacts of Climate Change

  • Reser J
  • Swim J
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Abstract

This article addresses the nature and challenge of adaptation in the context of global climate change. The complexity of "climate change" as threat, environmental stressor, risk domain, and impacting process with dramatic environmental and human consequences requires a synthesis of perspectives and models from diverse areas of psychology to adequately communicate and explain how a more psychological framing of the human dimensions of global environmental change can greatly inform and enhance effective and collaborative climate change adaptation and mitigation policies and research. An integrative framework is provided that identifies and considers important mediating and moderating parameters and processes relating to climate change adaptation, with particular emphasis given to environmental stress and stress and coping perspectives. This psychological perspective on climate change adaptation highlights crucial aspects of adaptation that have been neglected in the arena of climate change science. Of particular importance are intra-individual and social "psychological adaptation" processes that powerfully mediate public risk perceptions and understandings, effective coping responses and resilience, overt behavioral adjustment and change, and psychological and social impacts. This psychological window on climate change adaptation is arguably indispensable to genuinely multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and policy initiatives addressing the impacts of climate change.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Climate change
  • Environmental stress
  • Psychological adaptation
  • Psychologically significant behavior
  • Stress and coping

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Authors

  • Joseph P. Reser

  • Janet K. Swim

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