Prominent climate psychologist Renee Lertzman gives advice to Don Quichottes and Sancho Panza's:http://www.theleftcoastindependent.com/story/2014/06/30/niche/coping-with-climate-change/105.html
Some quotes from this piece:
"Humans are by and large contradictory, paradoxical, conflicted creatures. So much of what we do in our lives is how we negotiate conflicts and how we negotiate dilemmas that we are presented with in regards to how we live our lives: where we put our energies, where we invest our care and concerns, how we prioritize what really matters to us."
When it comes to any issue, but particularly something as serious as climate change, "there are levels of care and concern, at varying degrees, for all of us. So the question of why people aren't doing more needs to be reframed into: What are these issues really calling on us to do-and who to be?"
In the psychoanalytical orientation that Lertzman draws on, coping with anxiety is the central concern. The psychological term is "defense mechanism": protecting one's self from harm through a variety of mental tools. Commonly, an individual may pull back from a stressful situation to reduce the anxiety it causes, and in the process feel numb, powerless and ineffective.
Those who appreciate the acute jeopardy of climate change also may feel intense senses of loss: loss of home, loss of food security, loss of species, loss of a way of life or quality of life.
Add in guilt over man-made contributions to climate change, and there's a potent cocktail of psychological influences for a subject that also carries cognitive, intellectual heft.
"We're talking about very core, existential, ontological anxieties," Lertzman said. "Environmental issues need to be thought about in that way. This is about mobilizing profound anxieties for us; how humans manage anxieties, as we know, tends towards not the most productive."
Along with withdrawing from a situation, people may resort to demonizing, or blaming a scapegoat for the problem, projecting the problem onto someone else, or denying that the problem exists. (Sound familiar?)
"We're talking about formidable psychological challenges," Lertzman said. "If we take these things on board and move from that direction, the question becomes a different question-it becomes: How can we more effectively support one another and ourselves to be able to be more in alignment?
"What are the optimal conditions that facilitate our capacity to access our innate desire to be doing the right thing and feel that one can have more efficacy, be more active?"