National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the world's indigenous cultures, which are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate.
Human diversity is measured, in part, by the languages we speak. And the number of different languages spoken across the world has been in steady decline since 1950. Thus, despite modern advances in many domains, our world is shrinking in the area of linguistic and cultural variety and distinction.
Of the more that 6,000 languages spoken across the planet, over 43% are considered endangered and more than half of all languages will become extinct in the next 100 years at current rates.
UNESCO measures language vitality in six measures of health: Safe; Vulnerable; Definitely Endangered; Severely Endangered; Critically Endangered; and Extinct. Currently 577 languages are Critically Endangered- on the verge of extinction.
After global warming, language loss is the Earth’s most acute crisis.