Research shows Australians care about climate change – Psychologists respond to Andrew Bolt

Environmental psychologists from the Australian Psychological Society (APS) are urging respect for science ahead of misinformation. There is wide agreement across all domains of science that human activity is pushing carbon emissions to a dangerous level and that urgent action is required immediately to reduce emissions.

Contrary to Mr Bolt’s assertions in the Herald Sun (13/5/13), the majority of Australians also believe that climate change is happening, and take it very seriously.  A recent in-depth and rigorously conducted survey by psychologist Professor Joe Reser and colleagues (Griffith University) shows that 74% of the people surveyed think the world’s climate is changing, and 87% accepted that humans were at least partly the cause of climate change. Furthermore 76% judged that if nothing is done it will be a serious problem for the world.  When asked what the most important problem facing the world is if nothing is done to stop it, the highest proportion (39%) identified global warming/the environment while just 5.3 selected ‘the economy/unemployment’.

Reser’s research also tells us that people are prepared to make changes to how they live to take action on climate change.  Well over one half of respondents (61%) reported being prepared to greatly reduce their energy use to help tackle climate change and many are psychologically adapting to the threat of climate change and changing their behaviours and lifestyle with respect to reducing their own carbon footprint.  

Climate change can be threatening to think about. It challenges the choices we make about how we live, as well as our expectations about the future, and our feelings of safety and security in the world we live in.

Given Australians acceptance of, and concern about, climate change, members of the APS Psychology and the Environment Interest Group, including Professor Reser, are urging that the evidence not be ignored.

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For more information or to speak to Professor Joe Reser or a member of the APS Psychology and Environment Interest Group, contact or call 0435 896 444. Find us on Twitter:  @APS_Media.

Source: Reser, J.P., Bradley, G.L., Glendon, A.I., Ellul, M.C. & Callaghan, R. (2012c) Public risk perceptions, understandings and responses to climate change and natural disasters in Australia: 2010-2011 national survey findings. Gold Coast, Qld: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.                                                                                                             


The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 21,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to people’s lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.