What is environmental amnesia?

Do you really know?

0:00
00:03:05
10
10

What is environmental amnesia?

Do you really know?

What is environmental amnesia? Thanks for asking!

Why are we so slow to become aware of climate change and act against it? The explanation may lie in our brains, which are affected by environmental amnesia.

This term was invented in 1999 by American psychologist Peter H. Khan. He theorised that humans were forgetting the history of the environment, or more accurately becoming used to its degradation from generation to generation.

Children tend to base their view of what is a “normal” environment on what they experience at a young age. This is true even though in reality they are increasingly growing up in polluted ecosystems.

When they grow older, it then becomes difficult to change their viewpoint, as that norm has become their reference point. 

I guess it’s hard to ‘forget’ something you’ve never seen yourself! 

Fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly discussed the similar concept of a “shifting baseline syndrome” in 1995. He noted that fishing researchers tended to assess stock based on the norm at the start of their career. That didn’t necessarily take into account that the stock level was already depleted compared to previous generations.

Many were unable to accurately identify the baseline population size of how abundant a species of fish was before human exploitation. 

So why does this happen then?

We usually remember the history of our ancestors, from ancient times to the World Wars. That is because we are taught about it at school from an early age, whereas the history of the environment is seldom taught, if at all. In addition, many of us live in urban areas, further and further away from nature.

National Trust research published in 2018 showed that UK children play outdoors for an average of 4 hours per week, which is less than half than their parents’ generation.

 

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

Episodes
Date
Duration
Recommended episodes :

What is QAnon?

Do you really know?

What is the anti-vaxxer movement?

Do you really know?

‌What is linguistic discrimination?

Do you really know?

The podcast Do you really know? has been added to your home screen.

What is environmental amnesia? Thanks for asking!

Why are we so slow to become aware of climate change and act against it? The explanation may lie in our brains, which are affected by environmental amnesia.

This term was invented in 1999 by American psychologist Peter H. Khan. He theorised that humans were forgetting the history of the environment, or more accurately becoming used to its degradation from generation to generation.

Children tend to base their view of what is a “normal” environment on what they experience at a young age. This is true even though in reality they are increasingly growing up in polluted ecosystems.

When they grow older, it then becomes difficult to change their viewpoint, as that norm has become their reference point. 

I guess it’s hard to ‘forget’ something you’ve never seen yourself! 

Fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly discussed the similar concept of a “shifting baseline syndrome” in 1995. He noted that fishing researchers tended to assess stock based on the norm at the start of their career. That didn’t necessarily take into account that the stock level was already depleted compared to previous generations.

Many were unable to accurately identify the baseline population size of how abundant a species of fish was before human exploitation. 

So why does this happen then?

We usually remember the history of our ancestors, from ancient times to the World Wars. That is because we are taught about it at school from an early age, whereas the history of the environment is seldom taught, if at all. In addition, many of us live in urban areas, further and further away from nature.

National Trust research published in 2018 showed that UK children play outdoors for an average of 4 hours per week, which is less than half than their parents’ generation.

 

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

Subscribe Install Share
Do you really know?

Thank you for your subscription

For a better experience, also consider installing the application.

Install