How the climate emergency could lead to a mental health crisis

The Greenlandic Perspective Survey tells us that 90% of Greenlanders accept that climate change is happening. More than that, it’s making them anxious and depressed. Given that they live in cultural and climactic conditions that put them at the frontline of ecological change, we might be well advised to take their thoughts and feelings seriously. Where they go, we may very well follow.

At opposite ends of the climate spectrum – from the parched landscape of New South Wales to Greenland’s melting sea ice – people are finding the need for new words to describe the mental health issues linked to environmental change. In 2003 the Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined the term solastalgia to describe the anguish caused by environmental alterations due to droughts and destructive mining. Taking the Latin word for comfort (sōlācium) and the Greek root designating pain (-algia) he gives us a neologism that sums up the devastating effects of finding unease where you used to look for relief.

If the world around you once promised to be a place that provided a certain amount of food, shelter and consistency, how might you feel as it gradually becomes a place of extreme unpredictability and risk? In Greenland, the north Baffin Inuit have the word uggianaqtuq to describe the unpleasant feeling caused by a friend behaving strangely, or even a sense of homesickness experienced when one is actually at home.

Read More At The Guardian

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