Letter: Suffering from solastalgia

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Editor,

Solastalgia is a word that describes the distress caused by environmental change. 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 to their extinction. 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 deeper connection to the land will feel this more intensely, like me. But as areas of nature disappear, or evidence of people working with the land becomes folklore, the more likely a community will lose its psychic stability. That’s why words like solastalgia are needed: To help us grieve the loss of home.

Andrew Fritz, Carmel

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