Is there even a word for that feeling in English?
Environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht says there wasn’t a word in English that describes the sadness and pain he’s seen people experience when they lose land, water and air quality to climate change. So he invented a word: solastagia. Etymologically, it combines the melancholy of nostalgia with the comfort of solace to express the loss of what once gave us comfort – the land we live on, the air we breathe, the flora and fauna that once surrounded us.
Albrecht also advances two new medical concepts, psychoterratic and somoterratic illnesses, that connect our mental health to the state of the land.
You can read more about these ideas on Albrecht’s blog. In the meantime, I’ll be out looking for that peahen who used to live in this tall evergreen overlooking the freeway near my home. I haven’t seen her in at least a month now, and it’s making me feel solastalgic.
My thanks to reader KAT for sending the solastalgia link.