Saturday , January 16 2021

"People are talking about deep sadness:" Scientists are studying climate change

His paintings are painted from first-hand observation by a brush utilized outdoors and glowing with the colors of the Canadian desert.

But the British artist Columbia Dominik Modlinsky does not take his colors into the forest much more.

"I felt I could not go out on my drawings because everything was covered with smoke," he says. "I can not go to some areas that I love to go because you can not see anything.

"I feel that someone controls my life and I can not do anything about it, it affects my mood."

Mental health researchers around the world are aware of what people feel when the world they know is constantly changing or climate change. There are those who call it environmental distress, some call it solstalgia – a word that is inherent in a sense of homesickness when the house changes around you.

The American Psychological Association has published a long report into solastalgia, as does the British medical journal Lancet, Australian farmers report high levels of depression as their drought campaigners explode, an international group of climate scientists keep a website labeled Is that how you feel?

House committees discussed this. Health Canada is exploring the issue.

"It's getting more hoax," said researcher Katie Hayes of the University of Toronto.

In Canada, Professor of the University of Ashley Cunsolo Memorial published a paper in 2013 on the Inuit in the tiny Labrador community of Rigolet. People spoke of the grief they felt about being cut off from places they had visited for generations because of the sea ice.

"People talked about deep sadness," Consolo said. "People talked about anxiety, a lot of different words for pain, a lot of trembling voice, there were definitely tears, people felt displaced in their homes."

Sometimes it happens slowly, sometimes at once. Hayes has been looking into the effects of the 2013 flood in High River, Alta., A type of catastrophic event that is expected to occur more and more.

"There are still lasting effects from the flood," she said. "There is anxiety when it rains, on the anniversary, as (people) cross the bridge to enter the Hai River."

Children crawl into bed with Mom and Dad when the clouds open. People think of the box of Christmas decorations in the basement to catch themselves when they realize that it's gone.

"People would talk about the smell of stale mold or the sound of a generator coming, it makes them feel, it makes them nervous, it makes them remember the flood, all that they lost."

A study of the University of Alberta found similar effects 18 months after the fire burning at Fort McMurray Airport, Alta, which destroyed a tenth of the city. A survey of visitors to health facilities has found high levels of post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders, as well as drug use.

"We are looking at broader psychosocial effects, such as weak social connections or increased addictions, or even increased aggression with regard to domestic violence," said Peter Berry, a science consultant in Canada Canada. "Some of the effects can occur immediately or take months or even years."

Also, disasters are the only way weather related to climate change can cause stress.

"Volatility," said Ron Bonnet of the Agricultural Association of Canadian Agriculture. "What we see is a lot more variation than we did in the past."

Farmers can endure months without rain, and then see their fields immersed in a cloud. More than just a business, farms are home and tradition and it can raise the mental stakes, Bonnett said.

"There is almost a mental block:" What am I doing now, how do I decide? "You're just paralyzed, all you can see is the crop lying out there that you can not get off."

The words "paralyzed" and "helpless" often come when solastalgia is discussed. According to Julia Fason, the Canadian mental health association in the Okanagan region of the BBC, where fires and evacuations were a constant feature of last summer.

"The helplessness tells you that you can not fix it and you are not going to stop feeling bad, there's no point in reaching, converging with the community and seeing what you can do."

In fact, she said that extracting is one of the best ways to cope.

"The helplessness produces a sense of isolation and when we can break it up by building a community, it makes a huge difference.

"We recognize our feelings, we know that it is important to accept them, we are looking for people who will support us, we are looking for actions that we can take to restore the sense of control."

Great advice, said Thomas Doherty, a Portland mental health expert, Ora, who helps people feel environmental grief.

People can feel like "climate hostages" trapped by avalanches of information with little action of their leaders. Doherty suggests finding a way to get involved and do something.

He has another prescription: go outside.

"It's part of the coping, it makes contact with life, with things bigger than you."

But until things get used to the nostalgia, Modlinsky said.

"As an artist who paints the Canadian north, I see the slow, climatic change taking place, the emotional environmental grief that I feel will be widespread anxiety, this is about to happen.

"I do not think our health system is even prepared to deal with it."

– Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @ row1960

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