12 years

In 2018, the UN Panel on Climate Change said that we had 12 years to make meaningful progress on CO2 emissions reductions and change the course of climate change. Around that same time, my son had just turned 16, and I was starting to really envision what he was going to look like as an adult, and how he’d respond to the world. 

The mental math, that he’ll be 28 at the end of this 12 year period, combined with this crystalized understanding of what he’ll look like as an adult, brought about a sense of dread. Compounded with our current political realities blocking meaningful progress, transformed my dread into something much more resigned.

Depression and, more significantly, hopelessness took hold, and I looked for meaning in this. I tried to find a description for this experience, and found a word invented by the philosopher Glenn Albrecht: Solastalgia. It is the pain caused by nostalgia for the current state of one’s home, driven by the loss that is expected from Climate Change. The uniqueness of this pain is that it’s set in before we experience the full thrust of the change. 

This feeling, depression, can be quite isolating in middle America, where trust in the science of Climate Change is quite low. It’s easy to feel an otherness in family gatherings, public spaces, and so on, as it becomes clear that many if not most around you don’t share your dread.

In response to this emotional state, I’ll be visually journaling in my latest ongoing project, Solastalgia.

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