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  Environment, psychology and health news
A monthly update of environment, psychology and health news

December 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

More interesting news on the environment and psychology from a variety of sources. Many thanks to Sam Keast for compiling his last edition before he leaves the APS. Sam has been our wonderful Community Psychology student who has been with the APS on placement for the last few months.  He's helped enormously with much of our climate change related work, and I'm particularly grateful to him for the wonderful climate change empowerment handbook that we have just finished, below.  A thousand thanks, Sam!

Have a happy end of the year, everyone!


Susie Burke

Public Interest, Environment and Disaster Response
twitter:  @BurkePsy.

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The Climate Change Empowerment Handbook

Psychological strategies to tackle climate change

These 8 simple but important insights from psychological science,
summarised with the acronym A.C.T.I.V.A.T.E., help people come to
terms and cope with the profound implications of climate change.
We hope they will ACTIVATE the public into more effectively engaging with the challenge of climate change and participate in speedy societal change to restore a safe climate.

This booklet is part of the APS 2016 Presidential Initiative looking at how the science of psychology can help us to understand and participate in solutions to the ‘big issues’ facing the world today.

The handbook is available now from the APS website here.

ACTIVATE infographic handout

In addition to the handbook we have created a visual tool which highlights the eight strategies in an inforgraphic of the acronym ACTIVATE. Download your copy here.

Acknowledge feelings

Create social norms

Talk about it

Inspire positive visions 

Value it


Time is now

Engage with nature

On the reverse of this handout is a brief summary of the central point of the strategy of each letter. This practical handout is now available from the APS website here.


Conservatives can be convinced to fight climate change with a specific kind of language

While climate change advocates often frame their message as a warning about the future of the planet, it might be more effective to speak about restoring the environment to its former glory.

Environmentalists may want to consider using that to their advantage: a new study shows that focusing on the past is effective in getting conservatives (who are much more likely than liberals to deny climate change) to act to protect the planet.

Read more

(Un)Natural Disasters: Communicating Linkages Between Extreme Events and Climate Change

Part of the problem is that for a long time many scientists themselves repeated the message that, “we can’t attribute any individual event to climate change". They stuck to the generic explanation that many of the extreme weather events witnessed in recent years were consistent with projections of climate change, although the science had moved well beyond this general explanation to specific event attribution.

However, there are some cases in which scientists can say more about attributing the underlying factors behind an extreme event than about the specifics of the event itself. This complexity can create confusion and lead to missed communication opportunities. Hence, it is not surprising that it is taking a while for public awareness to catch up with the science.

Read more

Report helps scientists communicate how global warming is worsening natural disasters

A new article helps scientists communicate how humans are intensifying extreme weather clearly and accurately.

Read more


Want to See Climate Change in Action? Use Google's Timelapse.

Google Earth has long offered a timelapse feature that allows users to see changes to a particular geographical region over a period of years. It’s fun to play with, but also an important tool because it allows us to see environmental degradation in real time. This week, the tool got even better, thanks to clearer images and an expanded timeline.

The things you can see are amazing, use the tool here

This interactive map shows why renewables and natural gas are taking over the US

The University of Texas Austin’s Energy Institute has put out an incredibly useful interactive map showing what types of power plants are cheapest to build in every county in the continental United States.

Playing around with the map, you can see why natural gas and renewables are likely to provide much of America’s new electric capacity going forward. It also shows why, despite Trump’s promises, it will be extremely difficult to build new US coal plants anytime soon.

Read more here and play with map here

CAHA Newsletter: Wrapping-up 2016

The 2016 'wrap-up' newsletter looks back on 2016 and the CAHA achievements. They've included the latest climate and health news, policy news and some great resources for you and your network.

Read more

Ethical job opportunity

Organiser - Climate-Health Training and Capacity Building

The Climate and Health Alliance is looking to employ someone in the following role to lead the development and delivery of an intensive organising and advocacy training program for health professionals to build skills and capacity in the health sector for campaigning on climate change. It will also support the efforts of health organisations campaigning for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia. The position is ideally based in Melbourne, but interstate applications considered.

Details below and via the following link:

Applications close 15th January 2017.

Please contact Fiona Armstrong if you have any questions.M: 0438 900 005


Adani coal mine project: Queensland Government approves rail line and camp as protesters rally in Melbourne

More than 250 gathered at the rally, ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Adani in the city later today.

The Australian Conservation Foundation's Paul Sinclair said the project could still be stopped.

"Every day that we stop Adani digging that coal is a day this planet is free from its pollution," he said.

"Every day that we stop Adani digging that coal, renewable energy grows stronger in this country."

Susie Burke and and Carol Ride (from Psychology for a Safe Climate)

Susie Burke and Sam Keast (community psychology placement student)

India to halt building new coal plants in 2022

A draft government plan from India finds no need for new coal stations beyond those already under construction, and calls for a assive renewable energy push.  This news that will shake prospects for Australia’s planned Carmichael coal mega-mine in the Galilee basin, which is intended to supply India’s power sector, under the operation of Indian firm Adani.

Read more

ANZ effectively rules out funding Adani’s Carmichael coalmine

The proposed Carmichael coalmine in Queensland has suffered another blow, with ANZ Bank ­effectively ruling out financial support for a project that could cost the Adani group of India up to $16 billion.

ANZ’s strategic shift away from coal is highlighted in its 2016 sustainability review, released earlier this week. It notes that 40 per cent of the world’s electricity comes from coal-fired power stations, and that coal remains a cheap and reliable energy source. However, a low carbon transformation of the power sector was under way.

The bank’s support of new electricity generation projects reflected this, with no direct funding of any new, conventional coal-fired power generation project this year.

Read more

World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That's Cheaper Than Wind

Unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Read more

Podcasts & Videos

A Glorious Antidote to the Trumpness in the World

A magical evening was created when 1500 singers came to Luminato Festival at the Hearn Generating Station in Toronto. Daveed + Nobu (AKA DaBu) taught them back up parts to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, then Rufus Wainwright joined them on stage to sing lead. Perhaps a great metaphor for the beauty and citizenship we create when we join harmoniously in a common good. 

Watch here (tissues may be needed).

Video: All the extreme weather we've had lately isn't anything new, right?

Katherine Hayhoe atmospheric scientist and associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is director of the Climate Science Center, runs through some of the facts about how we know climate change is real. Her short video provides useful talking point when talking to people who deny the science of climate change. 

Watch here

Speaking up for Social Justice this Christmas: The Edmund Rice Centre's Guide

The Edmund Rice Centre's Guide to Speaking up for Social Justice this Christmas has been developed to help you respond to statements of misinformation about social justice, human rights and eco-justice issues this festive season - and there has been plenty of misinformation spread this year.

You can download the guide here. Please share it with your family and friends who may be interested.


Climate Emergency Declaration


Call on the Australian Parliament to declare a climate emergency and initiate a society-wide mobilisation.

For more information or to sign the petition.

Coming soon....

Sustainable Living Festival

The Sustainable Living Festival aims to accelerate the uptake of sustainable living and seeks solutions to global warming that will return the planet to a safe climate as fast as humanly possible. The Festival raises awareness and provides tools for change by showcasing leading solutions to the ecological and social challenges we face.

The Festival’s three week program engages individuals and communities across Victoria to host and promote sustainability events. Celebrating the very best examples of ecological and social sustainability the event embraces interactive workshops, talks, demonstrations, artworks, exhibits, films and live performances. 

More information here

Why I sued the U.S. Government

Xiuhtezcatl feels compelled to stand up and speak out for his peers, whom he refers to as not just tomorrows leaders but leaders of today, strong enough to start a lawsuit against the Obama administration. 

Displaying a wisdom far beyond his years, Xiuhtezcatl (“Shu-tez-caht”) Martinez has been speaking on behalf of the planet since the tender age of six. Today still just a teenager, his extraordinary eloquence has moved audiences which include world leaders, Hollywood celebrities and other impassioned young people across continents who have joined his Earth Guardians activism movement.

Xiuhtezcatl will be here as a part of the Sustainable Living Festival. Book tickets here

Community-Based Social Marketing Workshops

For over three decades Dr. McKenzie-Mohr, an environmental psychologist, has been working to incorporate scientific knowledge on behaviour change into the design and delivery of community programs. He is the founder of community-based social marketing and the author of three books on the topic.

He has delivered workshops internationally for over 70,000 program managers and is coming back to Melbourne in March, 2017 to run a range of workshops. 

Register here

Online Course: Making Sense of Climate Science Denial

If you didn't have a chance to complete the course in the past or if you are just interested in continuing the conversation about climate science denial, we would love to see you in our new run of Denial101x. You can register for the course on the edX website by clicking this link.

Gratuitous Links

Fossil fuels – where does your bank stand?

Market Forces have created a table to help you find out which banks do and don’t have a record of funding fossil fuels. Using the table, you can compare the fossil fuel investment positions of over 120 banks, credit unions and building societies.

Find out where your bank stands here

How Ethical is Your Super?

Ethical superannuation accounts are not just a niche thing any more. Nowadays you can help out the planet by getting your money out of fossil fuels, or give the human race a break by divesting from weapons or tobacco, and still make a nice return.

With some superannuation options you'll do better investing ethically than not.

Compare superannuation funds and their ethical profiles influding investment in fossil fuels here

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality was established 2014 for the purpose of collecting, translating and creating a new vocabulary for the Anthropocene. The site playfully, yet sincerely, generates new words (and invites others to create new words) that reflect our relationship to our rapidly changing environment vis a vis climate change and other Anthropocenic events.




1. When an otherwise Blissful experience in nature is wedded to or disrupted by the recognition that:

— One is having an adverse impact on that place they are enjoying by being there.

— The understanding of how the place will be negatively affected in the near future by: urbanization, climate change or other disrupting factors.