Understanding the Psychology of Environmental Change
Here's a quote from a recent paper on mental barriers to facing up to climate change (and acting to reduce emissions) published at the most-recent convention of the American Psychological Association:
From the standpoint of the need to reduce environmental consumption in countries such as the United States, it is important to consider how psychological needs can be satisfied with less than current levels of such consumption. Some research suggests that rather than pursuing materialistic goals and passive forms of entertainment (e.g., watching television), people would be better served to work on tasks that require greater engagement, particularly those that lead to flow experiences (e.g., experience that are so engaging one loses track of time while doing them) (Csikczentmihalyi, 2004; 2006). Some evidence indicates that engaging in ecologically
responsible behavior is associated with higher subjective well-being and endorsing more intrinsic and less extrinsic values (Brown & Kasser, 2005).
Thus, although psychological needs drive consumption, consumption may be a poor method of satisfying those needs, particularly subjective well being.