22 March 2008

What does climate change do to our heads?

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One of the statements that stuck with me at the recent Disruptive Thinking event in Barcelona, organised by the Art Center College of Design, was by author Sara Wheeler. She said: “Climate change is now part of the human experience, what it means to be human.

Now Sanjay Khanna provides some more insight on this on Worldchanging and interviews environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht:

A small yet growing body of evidence suggests that how people think and feel is being influenced strongly by ecosystem transformation related to climate change and industry-related displacement from the land. These powerful stressors are occurring more frequently around the world.

A case in point: When researchers from the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health at the University of Newcastle in Australia conducted interviews in drought-affected communities in New South Wales in 2005, the responses suggested some of their subjects may have been suffering from a recently described psychological condition called solastalgia (pronounced so-la-stal-juh).

Solastalgia describes a palpable sense of dislocation and loss that people feel when they perceive changes to their local environment as harmful. It’s a neologism that Glenn Albrecht, an environmental philosopher at the University of Newcastle’s School of Environmental and Life Sciences, created in 2003.

What does it mean for the field of experience design, if the nature of human experience is changing because of climate change?

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Note too that the same topic was recently also discussed in Wired Magazine.

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