Excerpt from Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem

by Vanessa

Like a lot of people, I think I felt this pang. I knew that all around us beautiful parts of the world are expiring. And I also knew that people in the future, they might not even notice. For them a world without whales or wilderness might feel normal. I wanted to counteract that forgetting that’s bound to take hold over time. This forgetting has a name. Scientists call it ‘shifting baseline syndrome.’ It means that all of us accept the version of the world we inherit as normal. Over the years we watch forests get logged or animals disappear but when the next generation comes along they accept that depleted version of nature as their normal. It’s hard to zoom out and really feel the changes that are stacking up across the generations…

Maybe all any one of us can do is push against the baseline as it shifts. We can be a tiny counterweight. We weigh almost nothing. But generation after generation that weight adds up and some times in some places the baseline starts to shift in the other direction. In the direction of more beauty, not less.