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We asked, you answered: More global buzzwords for 2023, from precariat to solastalgia

Solastalgia
Malaka Gharib/NPR

This week we published a list of 9 global buzzwords that will likely be in the headlines of 2023. Some definitely sound new(ish) — like polycrisis, referring to the overlapping crises that the world is facing. Others are ancient — like poverty, which is on the rise again because of the pandemic, conflicts, climate change and more.

We asked you to nominate more buzzwords for 2023. Thanks to all who sent in contributions. Here are five more terms to watch for in the year ahead.

Elite-directed growth

Savanna Schuermann, a lecturer in the anthropology department at San Diego State University, proposes:

"One buzzword or concept I see missing from your piece is 'elite-directed growth.'

The problems you write about in the story — poverty, climate change, child wasting — stem from the same cultural cause. Power has become concentrated among elites — decision makers who make decisions that benefit themselves but are maladaptive for the population and environment ("maladaptation" could be a buzzword too) because these decision makers are insulated from the impacts of their policies. So they are either unaware of the adverse human consequences their policies have or they don't care."

Microplastics

Those tiny bits of plastic — some too small to be seen with the naked eye — are popping up all over the globe, in nature and in humans, raising concerns about their impact on both the environment and health. The small pieces of plastic debris can come from many sources — as a result of industrial waste as well as from packaging, ropes, bottles and clothing. Last year, NPR wrote about a study that even identified microplastics in the lungs of living people, adding that "the plastics have previously been found in human blood, excrement and in the depths of the ocean."

Submitted by H. Keifer

Precariat

Someone who lives precariously, who does not live in security. Wikipedia notes that the word precariat is "a portmanteau merging precarious with proletariat." It can be used in a variety of contexts. "Migrants make up a large share of the world's precariat. They are a cause of its growth and in danger of becoming its primary victims, demonized and made the scapegoat of problems not of their making," according to the book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. And, in 2016, NPR wrote about "the ill-paid temps and contingent workers that some have called the 'precariat.' "

Submitted by Peter Ciarrochi

Solastalgia

Solastalgia is, according to Wikipedia and other sources, "a neologism, formed by the combination of the Latin words sōlācium (comfort) and the Greek root -algia (pain, suffering, grief), that describes a form of emotional or existential distress caused by environmental change." NPR used this term in a story describing the emotional reaction of Arizonans who had to flee their homes due to a lightning-sparked wildfire. It has to do with "a sense that you're losing your home, even though you haven't left it. Just the anticipation of a natural disaster can produce its own kind of sadness called solastalgia."

Submitted by Clara Sutherland

Superabundance

The word itself is a lot like it sounds. Webster's says: "an amount or supply more than sufficient to meet one's needs." The libertarian think tank Cato Institute uses the term in what it calls a "controversial and counterintuitive" new book, Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet. The thesis: "Population growth and freedom to innovate make Earth's resources more, not less, abundant."

Submitted by Jonathan Babiak

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.
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