In November, 2002, I published my OpEd on the relatively new term, "shifting baselines." That same month I searched the term on Google and found only one relevant reference -- an essay in the Palm Beach Fishing Club newsletter by Tom Twyford about the shrinking size of ocean game fish. The only other science based references were to neurophysiology and the shift of baselines when measuring nerve impulses. That was it. Pretty much a clean slate.
Now search the term on Google. You can go 30 pages at least and still be finding essays and discussions of the term. Whether we helped to propagate it, who knows, but regardless, it was the goal of this project -- to see the term absorbed into common usage -- and it appears it has been achieved. My marine ecologist friends tell me there are now routine discussions of shifting baselines at their meetings and no one in the room has a quizzical look of, "what's that mean?" The fact is, the term has now made its way to everything from the oceans to the taste of chocolate.
Posted by Randy Olson at December 16, 2005 02:22 PM
Dr. Jackson aboard the U.S.S. Pristine congratulates the troops on understanding the true meaning of shifting baselines