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APA - Psychology of Global Climate Change

APA - Psychology of Global Climate Change

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Published by: David Webb on Mar 06, 2011
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02/18/2013

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Varying quantitative models describe and predict the impact
of population and consumption on the environment. A widely
known formula from the 1970s is I= PxAxT, where I = Impact,
P = Population, A = Afuence per capita, and T = Technology
(Ehrlich & Holdren, 1971; Commoner, 1972; Holdren & Ehrlich,
1974). Although T has been used to refer to technology, in
practice, it served as an error term, representing all sources
of impact not captured by P and A. other details have been
included in other versions of the formula. For instance,
population has been disaggregated into both number of
individuals and households (Dietz & Rosa, 1997; Liu, Daily,
Ehrlich, & Luck, 2003), and the IPCC version of the formula
makes specifc reference to greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions:
(Population) x (per capita GDP) x (Intensity

ghg) = Emissions

ghg

(Blodgett & Parker, 2008; Yamaji, Matsuhashi, Nagata, & Kaya,
1991). A particularly noteworthy new formula is STIRPAT
(stochastic impacts by regression on population afuence, and
technology; Dietz, Rosa, & York, 2007). It employs advanced
statistical methods that can take into account the probabilistic
nature of the variables in the equation.

Across the diferent models, a consistent fnding is that growing
consumption and population are major contributors to the impact
of humans on the environment and on Co

2 levels in particular.
This can be seen by examining results from STIRPAT analyses
(Dietz & Rosa, 1997). The results illustrate that countries
with larger populations (see figure 4) and greater per capita
consumption (see figure 5) have greater Co

2 emissions.

The relations with afuence are important to consider in
more detail. Figure 2 illustrates a commonly found U-shaped
relation between afuence and outcomes (Hanley, 2008). This
pattern has been used as evidence of a delinking of carbon
dioxide emissions and economic growth at higher levels of
income. Proposed explanations for this pattern include the
possibility that places with greater per capita GNP spend more
on services than goods, are invested more in energy eficiency,
live in more energy-eficient urban areas, and relocate their
contribution to emissions to other parts of the world via trade
that decreases industrialization in their own countries (Hanley,
2008; Dietz & Rosa, 1997).

The above illustrate that more is needed to better
understand the relation between afuence and Co2 emissions.
Further, individual level analysis is also necessary to know
why there is a relation between consumption and emissions.
Psychology can help clarify mechanisms by which population

31

Afuence Efect Multiplier

Gross Domestic Product Per Capita

70 100

200

500

25,000

10,000

5,000

2,500

1,000

20

5

1

.1

.01

fiGure 5: the relation
between per capita
afuence and Co

2

emissions. numbers
in the graph represent
countries used in the
analyses (dietz & rosa,
1997).

fiGure 4: the
relation between
population and Co

2

emissions. numbers
in the graph represent
countries used in
the analyses (dietz &
rosa, 1997).

1000

100

10

1

.1

Population Efect Multiplier

Population

1,000,000

10,000,000

100,000,000

1000,000,000

32

and afuence infuence climate change by providing a behavioral
analysis of diferent types of consumption behaviors that
people choose to engage in and the reasons why people select
particular behaviors.

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