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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Solastalgia

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2008 at 2:22 PM

Just came across an interesting article from Wired that describes a new kind of "homesickness" called solastalgia. It's caused by climate change.

From Clive Thompson's article:

It's a mashup of the roots solacium (comfort) and algia (pain), which together aptly conjure the word nostalgia.In essence, it's pining for a lost environment. "Solastalgia," as [Glenn Albrecht]wrote in a scientific paper describing his theory, "is a form ofhomesickness one gets when one is still at home.'"

It's also a fascinating new way to think about the impact of globalwarming. Everyone's worrying about resource management and the spooky,unpredictable changes in the ecosystem. We fret over which areas willget flooded as sea levels rise. We estimate the odds of wars over cleanwater, and we tally up the species — polar bears, whales, wading birds— that'll go extinct.But we should also be concerned about the huge toll climate change will inflict on our mental health.In the modern, industrialized West, many of us have forgotten howdeeply we rely on the stability of nature for our psychic well-being.

I haven't been feeling this yet, possibly because I didn't grow up in Vermont and haven't lived here long enough. I came here from southeastern Michigan, which has also changed considerably over time, though not necessarily because of global warming.

This article reminded me of an interaction I had with my dad last week. I was visiting my parents, who moved to North Carolina last year from the Detroit area.

The transition has been kinda difficult for my father, who grew up in Detroit. While I was in NC, he took me aside and showed me a Detroit News blog he's been following lately, called Going Home. It's written by a guy from Dad's old neighborhood.

I had seen the blog before, but my dad pointed out a new audio slideshow. As we looked at photo after photo of abandoned buildings with broken windows, he pointed to a house still standing across the street from Fletcher Field and said, sadly, "that's where I grew up."

Is there a different word for that kind of homesickness? 

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About The Author

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer

Bio:
Cathy Resmer is a former staff writer and currently an associate publisher at Seven Days, and is one of the organizers of the Vermont Tech Jam. She's also the Copublisher and Executive Editor of Kids VT, Seven Days' free monthly parenting publication.

More by Cathy Resmer

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