Solastalgia is a neologism that describes a form of psychic or existential distress caused by environmental change, such as mining or climate change. Coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht in 2003, it was formed from a combination of the Latin word solacium (comfort) and the Greek root –algia (pain). The first article published on this concept appeared in 2005.
As opposed to nostalgia — the melancholia or distress experienced by individuals when separated from a loved home (A.K.A. homesickness) — "solastalgia" is the distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment. A paper published by Albrecht and collaborators focused on two contexts where collaborative research teams found solastalgia to be evident: the experiences of persistent drought in rural New South Wales (NSW) and the impact of large-scale open-cut coal mining on individuals in the Upper Hunter Valley of NSW. In both cases, people exposed to environmental change experienced negative affect that is exacerbated by a sense of powerlessness or lack of control over the unfolding change process.
Subsequent studies have supported the existence of solastalgia, in Appalachian (USA) communities affected by mountain-top removal coal mining practices, as well as a community affected by wildfire destruction of homes & property.
- G. Albrecht, Solastalgia, a new concept in human health and identity, Philosophy Activism Nature 3:41-44 (2005).
- Albrecht, G., Sartore, G-M., Connor, L., Higginbotham, N., Freeman, S., Kelly, B., Stain, H., Tonna, A., & Pollard, G. (2007). "Solastalgia: the distress caused by environmental change". Australasian Psychiatry. 15 (1): S95–S98. doi:10.1080/10398560701701288.
- Hendryx, Michael; Innes-Wimsatt, Kestrel A. (2013-09-01). "Increased Risk of Depression for People Living in Coal Mining Areas of Central Appalachia". Ecopsychology. 5 (3): 179–187. doi:10.1089/eco.2013.0029. ISSN 1942-9347.
- Eisenman, David; McCaffrey, Sarah; Donatello, Ian; Marshal, Grant (2015-12-01). "An Ecosystems and Vulnerable Populations Perspective on Solastalgia and Psychological Distress After a Wildfire". EcoHealth. 12 (4): 602–610. doi:10.1007/s10393-015-1052-1. ISSN 1612-9202.
- Watts, Nick; Adger, W. Neil; Agnolucci, Paolo; Blackstock, Jason; Byass, Peter; Cai, Wenjia; Chaytor, Sarah; Colbourn, Tim; Collins, Mat (2015-11-07). "Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health". Lancet (London, England). 386 (10006): 1861–1914. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60854-6. ISSN 1474-547X. PMID 26111439.