Distress signals from Earth: the new condition of ‘eco-grief’

They’re calling it ‘eco distress’: a psychological phenomenon characterised not only by grief for how much of the natural world has been lost, but also foreboding at what is yet to come. Can a coping strategy be found?

6th September, 2020
Distress signals from Earth: the new condition of ‘eco-grief’
Among those working on the climate frontline, the term “ecological grief” has been coined to describe widespread anxiety, sadness, depression and suffering experienced by those witnessing at first hand the collapse of ecosystems. Picture: Getty

In Greek mythology, the Trojan princess Cassandra was given the gift of prophecy by the gods, only to be cursed that she would never be believed. Today’s Cassandras are the scientists and activists who have been warning for decades that the Earth is hurtling headlong towards an ecological abyss. Yes, they were right; no, we haven’t listened.

The ever-intensifying drumbeat of relentless environmental decline, from rapid ice-melting, record-smashing wildfires and ongoing...

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