澳大利亞人類學家托姆·凡·多倫（Thom van Dooren）于2014年撰寫的《飛行方式：滅絕邊緣的生命與損失》一書呼吁人們更多地關注我們周圍每天發生的滅絕，參與?；ず捅；ど鋃嘌?。作為這個星球的一部分，即使只是小動作。作為滅絕研究領域的領軍人物，托姆·范·多倫將哲學見解與自然科學知識結合起來，向我們傳達了一個重要信息，即當前大規模滅絕的倫理意義。The book titled “Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction”, composed by Australian anthropologist Thom Van Dooren and published in 2014, called on people to pay more attention to extinctions happening everyday around us, taking part in the protection and conservation of biodiversity as a part of this planet, even just by small actions. As a leading figure in the field of extinction studies, Thom Van Dooren incorporated philosophy insights into his words, together with knowledge of natural sciences, transmitted an important message to all of us regarding the ethical significance of current mass extinctions.
In this book, Dooren depicted how endangered lives like grieving crows and urban penguins managed to survive under tough situations and deteriorating environment. During his interview with the National Geographic magazine, he said that the main purpose of this book was to rethink and reflect the role of humanities play under modern context of extinctions, from ethnic, historic and ethnographic perspectives. In his words, he expressed concerns on the fact that nowadays the rate of extinction in species is rapidly speeding up, reaching up to almost the same one as when dinosaurs were all gone.
While towards the indifference of people felt about the extinctions of other species, he mentioned the phrase “mourning fatigue”, probably one of the minor reasons why people do not care so much about extinction events. Yet the major cause of this phenomenon still goes to the lack of awareness in the society concerning decreasing biodiversity. More importantly, in order to uncover the uniqueness of those species at the edge of extinction, we need to really comprehend what makes extinction matters in depth. In his point of view, “there is not a single extinction tragedy”, meaning that a story lies behind extinction cases of each one of them, which yet to be discovered.
In this interview, Dooren also expressed his understanding towards the term “human exceptionalism” that he used also in the book. He explained that it was the superiority humans stand over all of the rest species that resulted in these indifferent feelings towards them. And more people need to realize the importance of other beings, as they are an irreplaceable part of our homeland, so that they could rejoin “the community of life”.
In a sum, this book recovered a way of responding ethically to extinctions by telling lively stories of birds, reminding us of the valuable positions they sit at within both the ecosystem and our daily lives.
How the Current Mass Extinction of Animals Threatens Humans
We seem indifferent to the mass extinction we're causing, yet we lose a part of ourselves when another animal dies out.
By Simon Worrall, for National Geographic
PUBLISHED August 20, 2014
More species are becoming extinct today than at any time since dinosaurs were wiped off the face of the Earth by an asteroid 65 million years ago. Yet this bio-Armageddon, caused mainly by humans, is greeted by most of us with a yawn and a shrug. One fewer bat species? I've got my mortgage to pay! Another frog extinct? There are plenty more!
In his new book Australian anthropologist Thom Van Dooren tries to break through this wall of indifference by showing us how we're connected to the living world, and how, when a species becomes extinct, we don't just lose another number on a list. We lose part of ourselves.
Here he talks about grieving crows and urban penguins—and how vultures in India provide a free garbage-disposal service.
Your book is part of a new field of enquiry known as extinction studies. Can you give us a quick 101?
It's an attempt to think about what role the humanities, and to some extent the social sciences, might play in engaging with the contemporary extinction crisis. In other words, how ethics, historical, and ethnographic perspectives can flesh out our notion of what extinction is and the way that different communities are differently bound up in extinction or potential solutions via conservation.
We live in a time of mass extinctions. How bad is it?
I think that it's pretty widely accepted now that we're living through the sixth massive extinction. The fifth one was 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs vanished. Today we're losing biodiversity at a similar rate. And this is, of course, an anthropogenic mass extinction. The primary cause is human communities.
But what we're trying to do in extinction studies is to think about scale in different ways. How the loss of a species is not just the loss of some abstract collection of organisms that we can add to a list but contributes to an unraveling of cultural and social relationships that ripples out into the world in different ways.
You say that despite this, there is very little public outcry. Are people just too overwhelmed by the enormity of the crisis? Or what?
I think there are lots of answers to that question. For some people it probably is overwhelming. People have "mourning fatigue." But I think for most people it's just a genuine lack of awareness about the rates of biodiversity loss that we're experiencing.
There's an even more important answer to the question, though, which is that we haven't found ways to really understand why it is that extinction matters. We can talk about numbers and the loss of a white rhino or a kakapo. But we haven't developed the kind of story that we need to explain why it is that it matters—what is precious and unique about each of those species.
You have a wonderful phrase, "telling lively stories about extinction." What does that mean?
I was trying to get at two things. One is to tell stories that make a committed stand for the living world. The other is to tell stories that are themselves lively, that will draw people in and arouse a sense of curiosity and accountability for disappearing ways of life, so they might contribute to making a difference. Stories are one way we make sense of the world and decide what it is that matters and what it is we will invest our time and energy in trying to hold on to and take care of.
Flight Ways differs from many other books in that it's less interested in the phenomenon itself than in our moral and emotional responses to the crisis.
I have a background in philosophy and anthropology. So I'm more interested in how we understand and live with extinction. I started out wanting to write a book about extinction in general. But what I found doing fieldwork with scientists and communities bound up with the disappearing birds I describe is that each extinction event is totally different. There isn't a single extinction tragedy. Each case is a unique kind of unraveling, a unique set of losses and consequences that need to be fleshed out and come to terms with.
Tell us about "urban penguins."
One of the last colonies on mainland Australia, only about 60 or 65 breeding pairs, live in what is the biggest harbor in Australia, Sydney, my hometown. Some of them even nest under the ferry wharf, which many people don't know as they catch the ferry in and out of the mainland. They're beautiful little birds, about one foot [30 centimeters] tall, and they've been coming here as long as there have been historical records. Thanks to the dedication and work of conservationists and volunteer penguin wardens, who make sure the birds aren't harassed at night or attacked by dogs and foxes, they've managed to hang on.