In a Word: Anthropause [ an-thruh-pawz ]

Author:

Category:

On the heels of Oxford Languages “Word of the Year” for 2019 — “climate emergency” — comes a COVID-inspired collection of words for 2020, including “anthropause.” Anthro = human. Pause = interrupt action. 

Anthropause was coined by researchers seeking to describe the lull in global human activity, which, in some cases, allowed wildlife to move into spaces typically dominated by people or move about unimpeded or unaffected by us. 

For the briefest of moments, a hush fell over Earth. Scientists called it “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” One put it this way: “All of a sudden … silence.” 

Reports emerged from around the world: Sightings of rare, wild, big cats in Chile, deer on urban streets in Italy, loggerhead turtles on Florida beaches laying more eggs. 

We noticed it too, didn’t we? The anthropause. When the human world went still and the nonhuman sector of the natural world could, for a moment, right itself. Here on the Island, didn’t we see more birds in the trees? More deer in the streets? More Vineyard Haven turkeys in Oak Bluffs?

This rarest of periods is already being studied by scientists, keen to understand the impact. What will this anthropause teach us not only about wildlife but about ourselves, about our place in the world, about our ability to pause our activity in deference to the rest of the earth’s creatures? And what will we do with the answers?

Source: sciencemag.org

Latest Stories

What’s So Bad About … Carbon?

Carbon is the chemical backbone of all life on Earth. But when we release too much...

Building the M.V. Atlas of Life

An Island biologist gets help from the community to fill in the blanks. A long morning walk...

The No Nukes Festival: A day of music, friendship, and hope

The No Nukes Festival was held on Martha’s Vineyard 45 years ago, and there are still...

Farley Pedler Built a Small House, and Then He Built a Bigger One

A builder takes a passive progressive approach to building for his family and his Island. Farley Pedler,...

Laurie David and her 2021 Nissan Leaf

For our second issue of Blue Dot Living I’m taking a cruise with environmental activist Laurie...

Right at Home: Ben Robinson and Betsy Carnie at the Barnhouse

A collage of creative, sustainable living.  It is a chilly June morning when I visit Ben Robinson...

Citizen Science: A people-powered solution

Not only can regular people do real science, the process could prove healing for individuals, communities,...
Leslie Garrett
Leslie Garrett has written for the Washington Post and The Atlantic, among others. She writes frequently on environmental and social justice issues, and is the author of The Virtuous Consumer: Your Essential Shopping Guide for a Better, Kinder, Healthier World (and one our kids will thank us for!). Her Bluedot hack? “My clothesline! Is there anything lovelier than slipping between crisp, line-dried sheets that smell of fresh air and sunshine at day’s end?

Read More

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here