Thursday, May 17, 2018

Two new ecological coinages on the internet for our feeling about the loss of species worldwide: ''Speciestalgia'' and "Speciestude"

'Speciestalgia' is a new word for human distress caused by species loss

by Dan Bloom

see also:

Here's links for a couple of recent books relating to the history of nostalgia:

The Future of Nostalgia by Svetlana Boym:

What Nostalgia Was by Thomas Dodman:

And an article from The Atlantic, which I think is where I first learned that there was a deeper history of nostalgia: 






the human-race-just-1-percent of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-percent of-wild-mammals-study says


A recent news article in the Guardian newspaper in London noted that while human beings are just 1 percent of all living life on Earth, we have been responsible for the disappearance and extinction  of over 80 percent of all non-human species. This got me to thinking that maybe we needed a new word, a new coinage, to represent the distress we feel that has been and will continue to be caused by species loss.

I put on my thinking cap and this is what I came up with: "speciestalgia."

It's a portmanteau of species and nostalgia. It describes the feeling of distress associated with the worldwide loss of many different
kinds of species -- large and small -- due to environmental change, global warming, climate change and industrial pollution. In the 21st century, it might become a key word.


I coined it because of the negative attitude of  "who the heck cares?" that so many of our fellow human beings have today about the fact that so many species are disappearing and going extinct worldwide.

I can imagine scientists who study endangered species and species loss, and the reporters who cover their work and academic papers, using this new term as a kind of wake-up call and a call to action worldwide.

Use the term as you wish. I also created a Twitter hashtag for the word: #speciestalgia. 

If you are a writer or a poet or an academic or a news reporter or a literary critic, and if you are novelist Margaret Atwood or essayist Amitav Ghosh or nature writer Robert Macfarlane or climate activist Naomi Klein or Bill McKibben, or you know someone like them and feel the same way yourself, feel free to start using this new ecological term as you see fit. Over time, it will create its own expanded definition and gain acceptance in the mass media. Give it five years or ten years or so. These things take time. But let's start now, as time is of the essence and in many cases, time is running out.

When I queried a few academics and activists in the field, to try to gauge their reactions to the new term, pro or con, I received a few encouraging emails.

"Dan, do you know the word "solastalgia?" asked Canadian activist Silver Donald Cameron. "It was coined more than a dozen years ago by a philosopher and professor in Australia, Dr. Glenn Albrecht, to refer to the sense of loss that comes from environmental loss. 'Speciestalgia' would be a piece of that I think -- a large piece. It's a good coinage." 


Janet Swim, a professor of psychology at Penn State University, told me in an email: 
"Nice specific concept to consider. I was just talking to a friend who said she started to make a list of trees that we no longer have (at least in North America) and those that are threatened. She was certainly feeling 'speciestalgia'."

Dr Swim says on her university website that her interest lies in understand people's involvement, or lack thereof, in environmental problems and willingness to take action.  

"I am interested in both basic and applied research that can motivate individuals and organizations to work toward a sustainable and vibrant world. My current areas of research include social sources of beliefs and actions including gender role norms and social networking; and creating effective climate change communications,'' she added.

New words and terms take on a life of their own, if they reach enough people and if they resonate with the right people. Perhaps "speciestalgia" will find an home on the scientific community worldwide and among general readers and writers





My pal in Canada, Silver Donald Cameron, introduced me recently to 
ROBERT PYLE who is...
..... ''a lepidopterist – an expert on butterflies – and who in 1971 established the Xerxes Society for the preservation of invertebrate animals, animals without backbones, which constitute 95% of all animals. Think of spiders, lobsters, flies, ants, starfish, worms.''

''But Pyle is not a professor of biology at some great university. He’s a freelance writer of great power and range, publishing numerous books, teaching writing from Tacoma to Tahjikstan and Tasmania, and contributing to leading magazines like Orion. In recent years he’s turned to fiction and poetry – and indeed, he starts our interview with a poem. Pyle focuses on unfashionable things like caring for insects and damaged lands, and also on what he calls “the extinction of experience,” the shrinkage of the human spirit as we lose our direct connection with the natural world. [Blogger and wordman Dan Bloom adds: This might be called "Speciestalgia" in a new global coinage. Perhaps Dr Pyle will adopt the term and use it in his own way in his own work as a writer, essayist and poet.]

PS: see also a term coined in 2010 by Professor Albrecht in Australia: "solastalgia."

By the way, species-tude is the negative attitude that many people hold in regard to the slow disappearance and extinction of so many species on Earth.

Quite the opposite, speciestalgia is the feeling that we are left with when we see so many species going extinct in the Anthrocene.

Click here to see the interview with Dr Pyle. 

Robert Pyle is an award-winning author, poet, butterfly expert and teacher. In this exclusive Green Interview, Pyle speaks with Silver Donald Cameron about his obsession with butterflies, and how that led him, in 1971, to found the Xerces Society, named for an extinct blue butterfly and dedicated to the conservation of invertebrate life. Pyle is a lepidopterist, an expert on butterflies, but he’s also a popular writer with numerous books to his credit and he’s an eloquent advocate for improbable forms of conservation like advocacy for the damaged lands in Washington State where he lives—lands that have been ravaged by resource industries. He also worries about what he calls “the extinction of experience,” the decline of direct human contact with the natural world, which leads to the loss of our sensitivity to it.

In this Green Interview, Pyle discusses butterflies, damaged lands, and what he calls “the extinction of experience.”

In this interview with Robert Pyle, Silver Donald Cameron discusses:

Butterflies

It was in Crested Butte, Colorado, at the age of twelve, that Pyle discovered his love for butterflies. He describes in The Green Interview, the day he went wandering in search of Copper Creek and the black, velvety butterfly species called Magdalena Alpine: “I was wandering up those meanders of the East River and there was a little ridge and I found my way over the ridge through the sage into the aspen and down the other side in pursuit of fritillary butterflies and I looked down and there was a meadow populated by what looked to me like about 100 people with butterfly nets.” Leading the group of graduate students studying butterflies, were none other than Paul Ehrlich and Charles Remington. Remington was a professor at Yale, a well-known American entomologist, and the father of modern lepidoptery. From that day forward, Remington would become one of Pyle’s mentors. In 1971 Pyle founded Xerces Society, named for an extinct blue butterfly and dedicated to the conservation of invertebrate life. “But it all goes back to that day, my whole life does, as an academic and even as a poet because meeting those men, and the women at the station too, as I got to know them over the years, they enlivened me to see what an intellectual connection with nature could be.” Pyle is currently working on the tenth draft of novel called Magdalena Mountain, which he says is a “human story,” but that it “Incorporates those experiences and the butterflies.”

Damaged Lands

“I believe my love of damaged lands came from my ditch on the edge of Denver to begin with.” Pyle explains that damaged lands, or lands that have been “hurt…already farmed over, eroded, bashed about,” could also be extremely beautiful. He says the damaged lands “are all around us,” close to people’s homes, often in vacant lots. He says they can be restored but that even in “their depleted condition they can do a lot of good.” Pyle says, “We can go into the clear-cuts, which the urban conservation advocate would like to derogate as worthless—things do live there, particularly if they haven’t been sprayed—there is vital regrowth, not with the same diversity but there are organisms there and there are beauties there, closely observed on the ground: the ground pines coming over, the healing bandages of the mosses and the lichens and the liverworts coming back from the sides and the patches. I take great succor in that.”

The Extinction of Experience

In 1976 Pyle wrote about the “extinction of experience,” a phrase he coined .....[which in the year 2018 might be dubbed a form of "Speciestalgia" from the Latin ''Specie'' + ''Stalgia'' (Greek root for "pain")] , which “involves a cycle of disaffection and loss that begins with the extinction of hitherto common species, events, and flavors in our own immediate surrounds; this loss leads to ignorance of variety and nuance, thence to alienation, apathy, an absence of caring, and ultimately to further extinction.” 
Pyle tells The Green Interview that, “It’s not only the loss of entire species in a worldwide context that matters but it’s the loss of common things near us in what I called a ‘radius of reach.” Pyle says, “the radius of reach is much smaller for the poor, the very young, the ill, the disabled, than it is for the affluent who can go off to Antarctica or whatever. But for those whose lives are constrained, what surrounds them right here, that’s what they get and as the common elements become extinct in that environ then people become more isolated, more disinherited from their setting and less whole, and this breeds apathy, inactivity, leading of course to further losses. So it’s a cycle and a cycle I came to call the extinction of experience.”

NOTES:
Speciestalgia:
''the distress caused by species loss''
It describes the feeling of distress associated with the worldwide loss of many different
kinds of species -- large and small -- due to environmental change, global warming, climate change, and industrial pollution,.

A portmanteau of SPECIES and NOSTAGLIA the new term SPECIESTALGIA which speaks of the feeling we feel in the 21st century that the world around us has been changing for the worse, especially in terms of species loss.

No one has claimed coinage of the speciestalgia term and it does not need a name attached to it. It exists on its own, inspired by Bob Pyle's terms of ''the extinction of experience" and "the radius of reach."

In addition, so too does the new term "speciestude" (the negative attitude of "who the fuck cares?" that so many of our fellow human beings have today about the fact that so many species are disappearing and going extinct worldwide) not have a name credited to it. It just started appearing on the internet recently, and no name is attached to its coining. The same holds true with the new term of "speciestalgia" which has no name credited to its coing and just starting appearing organically on the internet in 2018.

Use the terms of speciestalgia and speciestude as you wish. If you are a writer, or a poet, or an academic or a news reporter or a literary critic, and feel free to start using these new ecological terms as you see fit. Over time, they will create their own definitions and gain acceptance in the mass media. Give it ten years or so. These things take time. But start now, it the terms appeal to you in your writing.


5 comments:

DANIELBLOOM said...

Which terms sounds and reads and can be heard by the ear better?

Speciesstalgia (plural, species)

Or

Speciestalgia (singular, specie, but can be seen as including many species in the plural)

Silver Donald Cameron said...

Dan, do you know the word "solastalgia?" Coined by a professor in Western Australia, Glenn Albrecht, to refer to the sense of loss that comes from environmental loss. Speciestalgia would be a piece of that -- a large piece. It's a good coinage.

DANIELBLOOM said...

Yes, Silver Don, I have been following Professor Albrecht's coinage since 2010 when I first read about it in a major New York Times article. It has gained widesspread acceptance since then. I hope speciestalgia and speciestude will also gain acceptance over time. Thankas for introducing me to Robert Pyle the other day!- dan

Janet Swim said...

Nice specific concept to consider. I was just talking to a friend who said she started to make a list of trees that we no longer have (at least in the states) and those that are threatened. She was certainly feeling speciestalgia.

Janet

Anonymous said...

Yes!