sō-lä-stál-jə n.: A pain or discomfort caused by the present state of one’s home environment.
Around the turn of the millennium, residents of the Upper Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia, started to express concern to environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht about the extensive coal mining in their home environment. Albrecht, who visited the region to confirm the destruction, realized that these people were experiencing a specific kind of distress: a homesickness felt at home. Albrecht coined the term “solastalgia” — a mash-up of “solace,” “desolation,” and “nostalgia” — to describe the inability to derive comfort from one’s home environment due to negative environmental change. The concept was introduced in 2004 in the journal EcoHealth, and the first paper devoted solely to solastalgia was published in 2005. With climate change poised to displace up to a billion people in the next 50 years and alter the home environments of countless others, Albrecht predicts that physical and mental illness related to the environment will increase dramatically.
Originally published July 31, 2008