Extension of 'diversity' as a conservationist metaphor

CBC Radio | Quirks & Quarks | April 8, 2006
Heading into the 21st Century, our planet is undergoing rapid change. Species are disappearing daily, and along with them human languages and cultures. Terry Glavin, a conservationist and writer, set out to document these changes in his new book, Waiting for the Macaws. Along the way, he also discovered tales of humans and nature interacting in ways that protect the species and cultures around us. Journeying from the tropics to the northern tip of Norway, his story is one of hope for our future.

A fascinating interview challenging some of the language of conservationism. However, from a cognitively narrative point of view, all it is doing is offering an alterative cognitive model (or story). The typical narrative of conservationism is that of macro-phenomena illustrated by individual stories or images. Glavin offers a micro-phenomenon and is hoping that it will be the basis of our macro-salvation. To me this illustrates the need for a fractal vision of the social and natural sciences where we can avoid implicit linear causal links in our academic discourse (or at least a study of how it works, because chances are that such an approach is cognitively impossible for us).

Another interesting aspect of the interview was Glavin's focus on ethno and linguo diversity as a counterpoint to biodiversity. It is an illuminating blending of two conceptual spheres. And one very much influenced by a neoromantic view of the world.