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"People talk about deep sadness": scientists study the woes of climate change

Sometimes it happens slowly, sometimes all at once. Hayes is studying the effects of the 2013 flood in High River, Alta, of such a catastrophic event that is expected to occur more and more often.

“There are still lingering consequences from the flood,” she said. "During the anniversary when it rains, people are worried when (people) cross the bridge to enter the High River."

Children climb into bed with mom and dad when the clouds open. People who think of this Christmas box in the basement catch themselves when they realize that it’s gone.

“People will talk about the smell of stale chatter or the sound of a generator being launched. This confuses them. It makes them nervous. It makes them remember the flood, all that they have lost. ”

A study at the University of Alberta revealed similar effects 18 months after a fire at Fort McMurray, Alta, which destroyed one-tenth of the city. A survey of visitors to medical institutions revealed a high level of post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders, as well as substance abuse.

“We are considering broader psychosocial consequences, such as weakening social bonds or increasing dependence or even increasing aggression against domestic violence,” said Peter Berry, scientific adviser to the Health Canada. "Some of the consequences can occur immediately or take months or even years."

Natural disasters are not the only way climate-related weather can cause stress.

“Volatility,” said Ron Bonnett of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. "What we see is much more variation than in the past."

Farmers can survive the months without rain, and then see how their fields are immersed in a cloudy flash. According to Bonnett, farms are more than just business, home and tradition, and this can increase mental abilities.

“There is an almost mental block:“ What should I do next? How do I make a decision? You are simply paralyzed. All you can see is a culture that you cannot leave. ”

The words "paralyzed" and "impotent" are often found when discussing solastalgia. The feeling that nothing can be done is doubly eroded, said Julia Payson of the Canadian Association of Mental Health in Okanagan District of Columbia, where fires and evacuations were a constant phenomenon in recent summer.

“Powerlessness tells you that you cannot fix it and you will not stop feeling bad. It tells you that it makes no sense to get involved with the community and see what you can do. ”

In fact, she said, coverage is one of the best ways to handle a situation.

“Powerlessness creates a feeling of isolation, and when we can destroy it, creating a community, it is of great importance.

“We recognize our feelings. We know that it is important to have them. We are looking for people to support us, we are looking for actions we can take to regain a sense of control. ”

Excellent advice, said Thomas Doherty, who practices psychiatric practice in Portland, Oregon, and helps people feel ecological grief.

People may feel that they are “hostages of climate”, captured by avalanches of information, and their leaders do little or nothing. Doherty suggests finding a way to get involved and do something.

He has another recipe: go out.

“This is part of coping with the situation. It helps you get in touch with life, with things that are bigger than you. ”

But until everything changes, get used to solastalgia, Modlinski said.

“As an artist painting the Canadian north, I witnessed the slow, creeping climate change that is occurring. The emotional grief of the environment that I feel will be widespread concern.

“I don’t think our health care system is even ready to handle this.”

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