Andrew Fritz, Urban Conservation Technician
Solastalgia is a new word coined by environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht that describes the distress caused by environmental change, specifically, loss. Environmental change can mean the loss of nature that we attach emotions or identity to. It can mean uncertainty, despair or powerlessness. Farmers who rely on steady rains experience solastalgia during droughts. It can be the feeling of despair associated with climate change. The lament you feel from the loss of a beautiful tree or prairie that you enjoyed on the way to work is solastalgia. It is the loss of the beautiful fall colors of Ash trees due Emerald Ash Borer. Put another way, if nostalgia is the distress associated with being away from home then solastalgia is the distress when our natural home is leaving us.
Those with a connection to the land will feel this more intensely, especially farmers and nature enthusiasts who depend, first-hand, on the benefits of natural resources. As areas of nature disappear, or evidence of people working with the land is lost, the more likely a community will lose its grounding, literally and psychologically. That's why words like solastalgia are needed: to help us grieve the loss of nature by naming what we are feeling at a deeper level – an initial and important step toward healing and action.
Learn more about solastalgia and other new words in Glenn Albrecht’s book, “Earth Emotions.” There is also a plethora of information found on the internet by searching “solastalgia” or “Glenn Albrecht” in your preferred search engine.