Two trends have dominated headlines over the past few years – the rise of far-right nationalism and the effects of climate change – and both have been on display at this week’s session of the United Nations General Assembly. Some climate advocates might view the rise of nationalism as an unfortunate coincidence, since many right-wing politicians actively deny the existence of climate change or obstruct legislation that seeks to slow carbon emissions.

But what if the trends two are more closely intertwined than we thought?

In a new study, psychologists Joshua Jackson and Michele Gelfand were able to show how the effects of climate change – and the way they make societies feel threatened – could be a key factor fueling the rise of right-wing nationalism.

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When people feel threatened, they’re more receptive to politicians who espouse xenophobic rhetoric. Trybex/

Could climate change fuel the rise of right-wing nationalism?

Joshua Conrad Jackson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Michele Gelfand, University of Maryland

Some view a retreat from democracy and the escalating effects of climate change as an unfortunate coincidence. But a new study shows that the two trends may be more closely related than we think.

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