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Thursday, January 03, 2008


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 of homesickness one gets when one is still at home.'"

It's also a fascinating new way to think about the impact of global warming. Everyone's worrying about resource management and the spooky, unpredictable changes in the ecosystem. We fret over which areas will get flooded as sea levels rise. We estimate the odds of wars over clean water, 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 how deeply 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? 

January 3, 2008 at 02:22 PM in House Rules | Permalink


The cited article was just a narcissistic and wordy version of the old joke about Vermonters changing light bulbs.

Posted by: Steve from Stowe | Jan 3, 2008 7:44:55 PM

It's interesting that you post this now, as Vermont is experiencing the most seasonal winter in many years. It's a total childhood nostalgia trip for me (though I grew up mostly in upstate NY, not VT).

Posted by: bill simmon | Jan 3, 2008 8:29:41 PM

I don't know, I grew up (mostly) here too, and the melt/dump phenomenon has me feeling some solastalgia. It's snowy, and it's cold, for the moment, but overall the weather feels different to me.

Posted by: Selene | Jan 4, 2008 9:50:30 AM

I think that word sums up that kind of homesickness perfectly. I interpret this term to mean a homesickness for that feeling that all is right with the world, that things are normal or the homesickness for a better time in one's life. Nostalgia can be that as well but feeling nostalgic doesn't necessarily define the present as undesirable.

Posted by: The FatBaldMarriedGuy | Jan 4, 2008 11:20:08 AM

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