Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Word of the Week

There's a new word in town, kids. It's called the Homogecene.

Burkhard Bilger used the term in his article on creepy crawly Florida, "Swamp Things," in the April 20 edition of The New Yorker.*

"Florida has become an open-air zoo, richer in species than ever before," Bilger writes. "To others, it's the harbinger of a new and depressingly undifferentiated age, when the old biological borders begin to fade and every place starts to look like every other. Ecologists have even give it a name: the Homogecene."

According to one source, ecologist Gordon Orians coined the term "Homogecene" for the modern era in which humans are tending to homogenize the world's flora and fauna through transport across once insurmountable barriers. Others call this the era of "creeping sameness."

I know that creeping sameness feeling. Whenever I walk around my neighborhood--Logan Circle, in Washington, DC--the local fauna is more and more depressingly undifferentiated. But I don't think that's what Bilger or Orians were really getting at.

*If snakes are anathema to you, don't read the sections in the article on 12-foot-long Burmese pythons slithering through south Florida.

Photo courtesy freemagenta.nl

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