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

Abstract

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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Acknowledgements

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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Ashlee Cunsolo.

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Cunsolo, A., Ellis, N.R. Ecological grief as a mental health response to climate change-related loss. Nature Clim Change 8, 275–281 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0092-2

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