In the book, “shifting baseline’ is defined as that what normal is for nature is different in generation to generation. Environment is constantly changing and species lives in it sometimes require to shift their normal for it too. That is why nature is so complicated and it is so hard for us to see the relationship between species to species or to environment and expect what is going to happen in next generation. I think shifting baseline is not always obvious for human and when we miss those phenomenon, and expect same thing from last few years of experience, we tend to cause negative impact on the environment.
In northern cod story, cod population was actually declining but since people were still able to catch them for adequate amount, it seemed like cod population is not changing. Than lead overfishing of cod for long until there were not much left. Decrease of cod population make them shift to mature faster and lay eggs early in their life stage. There were shifting baseline in cod population and what people expected was not really normal anymore.
To prevent from falling into the trap of shifting baseline, I think we need more careful analysis and observation toward nature. Also, don’t conclude current situation just by comparing last few years of history but consider longer history and be sensitive to small change. Still, I think it is very difficult to see what is really happening and avoid trap of shifting baseline, but at least, having questioning eye could prevent newfoundland cod tragedy.