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February 03, 2008

The year of Solastalgia

photo under CC license. Available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/livingourdream/460109557/

It's only been a few weeks since 2007's word of the year was announced (in case your forget, the word was "w00t"), but I'm making an early prediction for this year's winner.

I think 2008's word of the year will be Solastalgia.

So what is Solastalgia? It's defined as a sense of homesickness or nostalgia one gets when still at home, because the home environment has been altered by climate change. Picture how a Swiss shepherd feels when he stares up at the Alps and remembers how... when he was a kid... the peaks were all covered with snow. What that shepherd is feeling is solastalgia.

The word was coined by Glenn Albrecht, a philosopher and professor in environmental studies at the University of Newcastle in Australia. He spends a lot of time talking to people whose homelands have been devastated by things like strip mining, and he found himself searching for a word to capture the mix of nostalgia and despair that his interview subjects felt. Read about the creation of his word here.

As more and more stories are told about the human impact of climate change, expect to see the word solastalgia more and more.

(Thanks Geoff!)

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at February 3, 2008 12:57 PM