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.
- 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.