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Shifting Baselines

Released Wednesday, 9th December 2020
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David Roberts wrote for Vox.com in July, about the mental phenomenon of “shifting baselines,” in which we calibrate our expectations to the world we were born into, irrespective of what came before. And in so doing, he wrote, we unintentionally discount the severity of threats to our well-being. The term first came into fashion in 1995, when fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly observed that each generation of fisheries scientists accepts as a baseline the number of fish and the species composition at the beginning of their careers and uses that baseline to evaluate changes. Roberts spoke with Bob in the summer, about the social science of shifting baselines, generational amnesia and the psychological immune system — and what it all means for how we communicate about climate change.

This is a segment from our July 17th program, “This Is Fine”.