Dr Kate Wylie, Adelaide GP and chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ climate and environmental medicine group and DEA member was interviewed by WA Today on March 13. ‘Anxious nation: Eco-grief takes hold as ‘code red for humanity’ hits home’.
Various terms have been coined to describe the psychological distress which accompanies climate change. There’s climate anxiety and eco-anxiety, as well as solastalgia (from the Latin “solacium” for comfort and the Greek root “-algia” for pain, coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht in 2003 to describe a “homesickness you have when you are still at home”).
Although its use dates back to the 1940s, perhaps the most apt term for the modern state of affairs is “eco-grief”.
“[Eco-grief] is the grief that people are feeling as we watch our planet die around us,” explains Dr Wylie.
Wylie says GPs are seeing an increase in people of all ages presenting with psychological distress they attribute to concern for the climate.
“One of the interesting things about it is not really an anxiety disorder: it’s an extremely rational response. It makes sense to be sad,” Wylie says.
In its position statement on climate change, the Australian Psychological Society says it believes the phenomenon “involves serious and irreversible harm to the environment and to human health and psychological wellbeing”.
Climate care is health care
Take climate action now – for health’s sake