An interesting article recently appeared on the BBC website, detailing a new study that links linguistics and culture with areas rich in biodiversity. In the past, the study of languages and biology were two distinctly separate camps without any evidence to support the claim that ecosystems are tied to human culture, just as they are with animal life. It seems to be an obvious link and yet, without better analysis, disappearing ecosystems didn’t coordinate with the loss of languages or culture. This is an important study in regards the planet’s holism.
Now there’s been a study produced by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that highlights the initially dour news that both are disappearing fast. What this means is not only an erosion and disappearance of important plant and animal species, but also the diversity of human life, “Biologists estimate annual loss of species at 1,000 times or more greater than historic rates, and linguists predict that 50-90% of the world’s languages will disappear by the end of the century,” the researchers wrote. The report was also able to correlate that most of the staggering 6,900 languages spoken on the planet are in areas of high biodiversity. Lose one, lose the other, it seems.
Where this initially gloomy report offers a glimmer of hope is in the realization (now coldly, empirically represented) that we as humans need the terrain and landscape much more than previously thought. Indeed, those eager to strip more of the globe’s precious resources to build another obligatory mega-mall might now at least, pause for thought. And to quote the lead author of the report, Professor Larry Gorenflo, “It provides a wonderful opportunity to integrate conservation efforts – you can have people who can get funding for biological conservation, and they can collaborate with people who can get funding for linguistic or cultural conservation.”