It is the phenomenon made known by the marine biologist Daniel Pauly as the shifting-baseline syndrome. The world as first seen by the child becomes his lifelong standard of excellence, mindless of the fact he is admiring the ruins of his parents. Generation to generation, the natural world decays, the ratchet of perception tightens. Gradually, imperceptibly, big sharks give way to small sharks, small sharks to baitfish, baitfish to jellyfish to slime. On land, the big cats and wolves become feral house cats and coyotes. The wild standard sinks ever lower and becomes ever heavier to raise. Few notice, few care. Eventually, nobody remembers that wolves not long ago freely roamed the Adirondacks, and hence there is mad howling over the suggestion of returning them to their homeland. Southern Californians panic on learning that a cougar track has been discovered on the fringes of their gated neighborhood – mindless that cougars roamed these hills and canyons long before gated communities drew their lines in the chaparral. William Stolzenburg, Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators

Photo John Baumann

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4 Responses to

  1. Barbara Estinson says:

    I really like John’s bear picture, and your quote goes well with it, Sandy.

  2. Di Anne Lewis says:

    Amen. Simply amen. Makes me sad beyond sad to remember the worlds that used to be ~ ~ ~

  3. Jesse says:

    What a quote! Another book I need to look into 🙂

    • Sandy says:

      What was funny about this is I had selected the quote awhile back but when I went to post it, I had just seen one of the TV shows I watch talk about this phenomena. As the planet continues to be overpopulated, the infringement on nature will get worse. I liked the explanation in this passage. If you do read the book, let me know what you think.

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