The Cure for Planetary Amnesia
Do You Suffer from Shifting Baseline Syndrome?
(Global Heart | Esther Haasnoot) Do you suffer from Shifting Baseline Syndrome? Probably yes.
Rediscovering our connection to nature
The British government is seriously considering making “nature education” a compulsory subject for all students. Indeed, it is advocating environmental education programs from elementary school to university.
“Every child in every country should have a right to nature education. They have the right to be introduced to the awe and wonder of the natural world and to experience how it contributes to our lives.”
Could an environmental education program really make a difference? I think so, especially regarding our relationship with nature and the ongoing ecological crisis we are in. Because apparently, we all suffer from Shifting Baseline Syndrome to a greater or lesser degree.
What is Shifting Baseline Syndrome?
The term Shifting Baseline Syndrome (SBS) describes an “environmental generational amnesia.” Simply put, Shifting Baseline Syndrome is “a gradual change in accepted standards for the state of the natural environment due to a lack of experience, memory and/or knowledge of its past state.” In this sense, without memory, knowledge, or experience of past environmental conditions, our current generation cannot perceive how much our environment has changed. Each subsequent generation experiences less connection to nature. Our affinity for nature fades, our sense of what is “normal” is gradually changing. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to understand, care for, and protect our natural world. This way, many of nature’s systems are lost or on the verge of collapse.
Continued Alienation of Humans from Their Natural Environment
We can change the numbers and the anatomy of the animals and plants that live around us. We acquired this ability when we stopped wandering and built settlements for ourselves and began to modify animals and plants.
Gradually, important traditions and indigenous cultures with a deep-rooted understanding of nature have been suppressed and sidelined. We are so selfish and greedy that we can destroy a rainforest, the most important and diverse ecosystem in existence, replace it with single-species plantations to feed the burgeoning human population on the other side of the world. We plunder every corner of the world, apparently without knowing or caring what the consequences might be, and call it normal.
Colonialism, slave trade, industrialism, capitalism, and intensive agriculture are all ways that have transformed natural landscapes across the planet. Nature is what we are an inseparable part of and therefore dependent on. It is undoubtedly not an accessory that we can plunder without consequence.
The consequences of ecological degradation, extinction, and climate crisis can be immediate. Think about it, hunger, thirst, fear, or experiencing a precarious water supply during a drought, losing a home, a familiar landscape – migrating from places that become gradually or immediately uninhabitable due to a changing climate, drought, forest fire, earthquake, rising sea, deforestation, or pollution.
Where has this greed and selfishness gotten us? Despite all materialism, power, and abundance, we experience emptiness, dissatisfaction, lack, even loneliness, yet we consider this normal and natural.
About the Cure for Planetary Amnesia
As our tolerance to environmental degradation increases, the wildlife declines, there is an increase in pollution and loss of natural habitats. We also see a loss of understanding of what is “natural” when every generation redefines “normal” with every change.
It is unwise, unhealthy, and unnatural to ignore that nature is retreating. We know that Nature and natural habitats have been decimated by the ecological devastation wrought around the world.
We live under the threat of losing species, habitats, landscapes, and a deeply rooted way of life. The effects of the “Shifting Baseline Syndrome” or Planetary Amnesia include changes in health and well-being and changes in emotions, attitudes, and behaviors. Regular contact with nature is essential for optimal social, emotional, cognitive, and motor development. If nature is so fundamental to our well-being, it should be considered a basic need and not a luxury.
Either way, environmental and nature education seems necessary to collectively address the shifting baseline syndrome. For repeated, positive experiences with the natural environment in early childhood are undeniably the basis for a deep and lifelong attachment to nature into adulthood. Forest Schools, which originated in Scandinavia, affirm the social and educational value of spending part of the school day in nature. Together, let us define a new “normal” that makes us thrive and grow in love and connection with nature.
Esther Haasnoot is intuitive and healer. Also, the initiator of Global Heart magazine. Where she encourages and inspires towards a conscious, healthy, harmonious, sustainable, and loving society. To create an uplifting and positive future for all of us.