Plant Life Balance

Brave New Words

There’s a book that finally tells us how to articulate our longing for nature.

Forest bathing, urban farming, bushwalking, indoor plants – there was a time when we existed in happy symbiosis with our natural surrounds without the need for these modern pastimes. That deeply primal connection to nature still very much exists within us today, despite the average urban experience which consists largely of hard surfaces, synthetic materials, and digital devices. We yearn for nature, filling our homes with plants, spending weekends traipsing around the countryside, taking lunch in the park – and if it goes unsatisfied, a lot of us become jerks.

Where are the words to describe what we’re all feeling?

Thanks to retired Australian sustainability professor Glenn Albrecht, we now have a veritable lexicon for our modern divorce from nature. His new book Earth Emotions: New Words for a New World coins terms like ‘solastagia’ – the lived experience of the pain of dislocation from nature (a bit like being homesick while still at home), ‘ecoagnosy’ – environmental ignorance or indifference to the ecology and the spine-chilling ‘psychoterratica’ – an emotional framework that describes the trauma caused by a distance from nature.

What I’ve tried to do is give clear expression to the nature of these emotions that we’re feeling

What I’ve tried to do is give clear expression to the nature of these emotions that we’re feeling,” says Albrecht. “I’ve given the names and defined them so that we can actually communicate with each other in a way that’s far more effective than before. And it’s not just effective communication, communication and sharing is a way of understanding that the problem is not your own, it’s not an isolated issue.”

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Earth Emotions might just be the most important plant-related book since Edward O. Wilson wrote Biophilia and defined our deep love of other living species, especially plants.

The good news is that Albrecht is being listened to. His concept of solastalgia is being used in Sweden to examine the emotional impact of the country after its recent catastrophic forest fires. It’s also being used by researchers in Canada to understand how a disrupted connection from traditional lands affects its First Nations peoples, and possibly causing a type of psychic pain.

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ONE TRILLION TREES! Today on TPH Lucy Munro (@highlandergrounds) explores UK ecologist Tom Crowther's proposal to plant one trillion trees to tackle the climate emergency. “Climate change is seen as such an immense and complicated issue – it feels like it’s seen as someone else’s problem, someone else is dealing with it or not dealing with it, and no one has a simple message for how to go about tackling it,” Dr Crowther says. “I’d like to try and champion this as a solution that everyone can get involved in. If all the millions of people who went on climate marches in recent weeks got involved in tree planting the impact would be huge.” – Reading this story by Lucy has me feeling inspired and hopeful and ready to get planting. She explores a range of considerations when thinking about tree planting, and profiles a bunch of organisations already working in this sphere. It's a great read. LETS GET PLANTING!!! – Link in bio Pics supplied by @bushheritageaus

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There are positive descriptors in Earth Emotions too. Take ‘Symbiocene’, which represents the current ‘Generation S’ who are growing up in this grey future. Albrecht says it’s this generation who can reset humanity’s emotional and environmental course. Let’s get to it.

“Earth Emotions: New Worlds for a New World” is available now through Cornell University Press.

All this making you feel a little solastagic? Check our nursery finder to find your closest Plant Life Balance-accredited nursery and get planting.

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