As we are finally entering the season of spring, I have been reminded by how I spent last summer. The wildfires in British Columbia was one of the worst in country's history with 3,346,508 acres burnt as a result of a total of 2,092 wildfires within one year. It is hard to understand the magnitude of this ecological destruction. It's not only a matter of hectares of forests burnt but also hundreds of species living on these lands that were lost. And this is only what I know of hundreds of other disasters happening around the world every year.
Grief is a very abstract term for someone who has not experienced it personally. It's a natural human response to any type of loss as there is a mental, emotional and personal transition while one learns to adjust to life in the context of grieving. And then I learnt there is ecological grief: Grief associated with physical ecological losses and degradation, the loss of environmental knowledge and the accompanying ecological anxiety with ancipated future losses. This anxiety is also derived from shared responsibility of human beings for the disappearance, decline or death of loved species and ecosystems.
As I have experienced the wildfires last year only from a neighbouring province with poor air quality and smoke, short camping season and the disappearance of sunny days with clear sky, I have been thinking more about ecological grief and what it means to me personally. I started questioning a lot of my assumptions and values as well as my relationship with nature. Most of us have a very limited experience with nature on a daily basis; especially when it comes to children spending time outdoors, etc. The lack of this very existential experience is nowadays called nature deficit disorder. It brings forth the urgency to revaluate our lifestyles and values as well as build a more meaningful human relationship with nature which we can pass to future generations. This is perhaps one of the most important cultural and social transformations called upon our age.
It also makes me question the current climate change crisis and our immediate response to it as an individual and society: Why care about something if you have no relationship to it?