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 (or 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.
Subsequent studies have supported the existence of solastalgia, in Appalachian (US) communities affected by mountain-top removal coal mining practices, as well as a community affected by wildfire destruction of homes and property.
In 2015, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet included solastalgia as a contributing concept to the impact of Climate Change on Human Health and Wellbeing.