Shifting Baselines

Home Forums Due October 8 by 11:59pm Shifting Baselines

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    Shifting Baselines:

    Shifting baselines, as Greenberg defines it, is every generation having their own concept of what is normal. This in and of itself can be dangerous, however, if you relate it to nature it can be even more troubling. Growing up in the Midwest we experienced this with pheasants. Early on my brother and I would go out and take two or three birds each and be happy with it, that was our normal. However, inevitably every time we would return home our dad and grandfather would always shake their head and say that “it wasn’t as good as in their day.’ I never really thought much of it, just figured they were blowing smoke but as I got older and realized exactly how much pheasant populations had declined it became worrisome. Today there are very few pheasant where we grew up and needless to say no hunting. This is much like the demise of the northern cod population. With each generation of fisherman, a new normal was set for what was expected for a catch. Humans in general, I believe, have an unconditional tendency to make themselves feel better. Even though you may know that somethings not right, we tend to look on the bright side. However, this behavior can lead to people ignoring the facts that are right in front of them. When assessing fish stocks, it is important to take into account historical data rather than generational data. By doing so managers are providing themselves with a broader scope of what “normal’ actually is.


    On the topic of ignoring the facts. People will flat out get angry at the idea they could be wrong. Making people Irrational.


    I like your example, I never really stopped to consider when my dad said things like that either. I like that you address that looking on the bright side, isn’t really what solves problems.


    I agree with your idea that humans will make themselves feel better about bad situations or decisions. As long as everyone acts like the current amount of harvest is normal then nobody will ever feel bad about harvesting in a way that is not sustainable, and due to that people will just keep using a resource until there is much less of it and a new standard is set for what is normal harvest.

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Fish and Fisheries in a Changing World