Today was the NCAR Weather and Society webinar, produced by the Societal Impacts Program. It was a fantastic experience of speaking with professionals and practitioners from NCAR, NOAA, the National Weather Service, graduate students and others. I focused primarily on the central role of affect in responses to climate change and weather-related uncertainties — namely, anxiety, loss and the role of denial. Drawing from several studies from fellow environmental researchers and psychologists, I suggested that while we seem to increasingly understand cognitive and behavioral dimensions of “engagement,” we understand less about the affective. My key recommendations included the need for active collaboration and partnership between those working in climate and weather services with the psychological community (including clinicians and clinical perspectives); the need to support and foster research and methods to investigate affective dimensions of environmental threats and issues; and to not be afraid of acknowledging both the challenges and painful realities ahead, as well as the opportunities and potentials for creative engagement, solutions and change.
The feedback was wonderful, and I am grateful to the folks at NCAR for making this happen!