Sunday, January 31, 2010

Home Sick or Solastalgia?

I have been curious why at times I feel anxious, unsettled, despairing, and depressed. In the course of my life I have observed much disconnection, distraction and denial of what we are doing to our planet. Glenn Albrecht has a name for psychological condition.

In a 2004 essay, he coined a term to describe it: “solastalgia,” a combination of the Latin word solacium (comfort) and the Greek root –algia (pain), which he defined as “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault . . . a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home...’

In September, the British trip-hop duo Zero 7 released an instrumental track titled “Solastalgia,” and in 2008 Jukeen, a Slovenian recording artist, used the word as an album title. “Solastalgia” has been used to describe the experiences of Canadian Inuit communities coping with the effects of rising temperatures; Ghanaian subsistence farmers faced with changes in rainfall patterns; and refugees returning to New Orleans after Katrina. 1

Yes, our mind and the health are connected to this earth. So to feel such pain is a normal reaction if we are sensitive to what is happening regarding to our present degradation. From an eco-psychological perspective being numb, overwhelmed or powerless reflects humanity’s current divorced relationship as we diminish our natural eco-systems.

Such mental suffering forces many to explore our collective unconscious so to see how we can best adapt to this tremendous eco-adversity. One course of action is to lessen our consumption and ecological footprint to battle becoming so despondent. Another form of restorative therapy is seeking refuge by going into the woods or other natural surrounding.

Thomas Doherty, a leading ecosychologist as developed a model that which equates mental health with the impulse to “promote connection with nature.” This profound ecological minds-state is one model developed for the American Psychological Association Climate-change Task Force.

As we develop greater consciousness and explore our shadows an organic unification happens. However, difficult or painful such introspection is required to better ourselves and this world. When we separate ourselves from our world, we disconnect from our eco-soul or our earth spirit. Our whole is greater than the sum of many broken parts. Anyway we improve our sense of interconnectedness healing happens. I challenge you to question how or if you are connected to this world? A profound process will follow if you have to courage to venture forth. Otherwise you may become lost in the unconscious violence destroying our larger body's fight to survive.

1 Daniel Smith, “Is There an Ecological Unconscious?” New York Times, 1/27/10

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Put Out Our Global Blaze

If your house started to catch fire, what would you do? Well our Earth is catching fire, and many humans are sleeping through the beginning flames. The world’s future is interdependent on our ability to foresee and forestall this global blaze.

Never in human history have we been faced with such a menacing wildfire. Are we, the human species, going to become burn victims? Are we on the verge of bringing on the sixth great Earth extinction event? Reflecting on the fact that ninety-nine percent of the species that have ever lived on this planet are extinct, you may hear your smoke detector start to scream. Can you feel it getting hotter?

Yes there is truth what Smokey the Bear used to say, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Fires caused by humans are usually the result of carelessness and ignorance. A critical mass of people who are asleep act as small sparks igniting flames throughout our collective home. In order to survive, we must change our mind-set of “independence” into a new “Declaration of Interdependence.” We can’t put out large fires on our own; it requires a group effort.

This ticking time bomb also comports an explosion of human consciousness that is critical for our survival. The facts are clear: the human species is both an endangered and endangering force on this fragile planet. Our exponential consumption of fossil fuels, which took millions of years to form, is being almost thoroughly depleted in just over century. These same fuels are, ironically, capable of quickly transforming civilization into future fossils.

Death of our biosphere and the shutting down of our ecological systems is clearly being documented, and the rates of this destruction are escalating. Every day scientific reports and data reinforce the evidence.

Correspondingly we are witnessing similar collapses in our financial, political, social and psychological systems. For example, the levels of anxiety, stress and mental illness are at their highest recorded levels ever. Other symptoms of social breakdown are everywhere. Just looking at how our leaders have addressed climate change provides ample evidence that any sane individual must do something to remedy things within his or her means, or else one becomes an accessory to the present collective human insanity.

There is a wealth of potential solutions and ways that can contribute to the aversion of destruction. Conservation of our available energy is one key solution. This is the fastest, cheapest and most effective way to reduce carbon emissions: avoid energy loss in the first place. Mindful frugal energy use can have a tremendous effect and create momentum that will quickly diminish the present disaster scenario.

Increased efficiencies in energy use and conservation are bountiful. For example, better light technologies such as compact fluorescents and light emitting diodes (LEDs) can lessen by 25 percent electrical use that lighting taps from our power grid. The list of technologies, both existing and emerging, and innovations are as endless as the magic of human ingenuity and imagination.

Each one us can light a candle to possibility, rather than do nothing and burn our neighborhood down. The creativity, spiritual, artistic, and cultural potential of each of us can help to dampen these climate fires. According to scientists, we have roughly five years to develop the necessary preventative measures to save this planet. We cannot afford to wait.

Each of us must question how we can lessen our global fires. The sooner we get to the flames, the less damage this global blaze will have. As the fire smolders or blazes, we must understand that it is the emissions or smoke that kills first.

As good neighbors we each act as fire fighters, handing along buckets of water in a line to cool down our rapidly overheating planet rather than continue to add to the flames. Only we can prevent global fires.