March 21, 2005

3/21 - Jared Diamond's Variations on Shifting Baselines: "creeping normalcy" and "landscape amnesia"

Chad Nelson of Surfrider sent me this great excerpt from Jared Diamond, published in the Patagonia catalog:

Perhaps the commonest circumstance under which societies fail to perceive a problem is when it takes the form of a slow trend concealed by wide up-and-down fluctuations. Politicians use the term, "creeping normalcy" to refer to such trends and another term related to it, "landscape amnesia." In the case of Easter Island, one of my students asked once, "What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say as he was doing it?" I suspect that landscape amnesia provides part of the answer.


Dr. Jared Diamond: Creeping normalcy (pretty much the same as shifting baselines) probably played a big part in the collapse of many societies.

Posted by Randy Olson at March 21, 2005 02:16 AM