Grief & Climate Change

As the discussions continue at COP21, and the sense of cautious optimism continues to grow that world leaders will reach a strong and binding agreement, I am thrilled to see discussions also growing around the ways in which climatic and environmental changes can cause grief and mourning.

Thanks to David Suzuki for writing a great article, Healing Humanity’s Grief in the Face of Climate Change, and featuring our work from Nunatsiavut, Labrador.

The interplay of environmental degradation and geopolitics has had alarming repercussions. Over the past decade alone, millions of people have been displaced by war, famine, and drought. The world is shifting rapidly as a result of climate change and there’s little doubt we’ll see increasing humanitarian crises. We must face this new reality as a global community.

Climate change is one of the most destabilizing forces in human history. We must deal with carbon emissions but we must also deal with human suffering. In Canada, Inuit are feeling the impacts disproportionately. Ice appears much later in the season and melts earlier. Changing wildlife migration patterns disrupt community livelihoods, land-based activities, and cultural practices.

Cape Breton University Canada Research Chair Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is working with Inuit to understand their communities’ climate-related mental and emotional health impacts, documenting anxiety, despair, hopelessness, and depression, increased family stress, drug and alcohol use, and suicide attempts. People are grieving for a way of life that is changing with the landscape.

These are conversations worth having. These are emotions worth considering.

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