Ecological grief as a mental health response to climate change-related loss

  • Nature Climate Changevolume 8pages275281 (2018)
  • doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0092-2
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Climate change is increasingly understood to impact mental health through multiple pathways of risk, including intense feelings of grief as people suffer climate-related losses to valued species, ecosystems and landscapes. Despite growing research interest, ecologically driven grief, or ‘ecological grief’, remains an underdeveloped area of inquiry. We argue that grief is a natural and legitimate response to ecological loss, and one that may become more common as climate impacts worsen. Drawing upon our own research in Northern Canada and the Australian Wheatbelt, combined with a synthesis of the literature, we offer future research directions for the study of ecological grief.

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Thank you to S. Harper (University of Guelph) and J. Snook (Torngat Wildlife, Plants, and Fisheries Secretariat and the University of Guelph) for providing feedback and helpful suggestions on this manuscript.

Author information


  1. Labrador Institute of Memorial University, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada

    • Ashlee Cunsolo
  2. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

    • Neville R. Ellis


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A.C. led the writing of the article, with N.E. contributing heavily to the writing at all stages. Both authors contributed to the overall conceptualization of the article, the content within and the editing process.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ashlee Cunsolo.