Shifting baseline syndrome: causes, consequences and implications
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Ecological Society of America
Reason for embargo
Currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by Ecological Society of America. No embargo required on publication
Shifting baseline syndrome (SBS) is a psychological and sociological phenomenon whereby each new human generation accepts as natural or normal the situation in which it was raised. With ongoing local, regional and global deterioration in the natural environment, this results in a continued lowering of people’s accepted norms for these environmental conditions. SBS is thus increasingly recognized as one of the fundamental obstacles to addressing a wide range of global environmental issues faced today, yet knowledge about the phenomenon remains incomplete and limited. Here, we provide an overview of the nature and extent of SBS, propose a conceptual framework for understanding its causes, consequences and implications, and suggest future research directions. Our review illustrates that there are key feedback loops by which consequences of SBS accelerate further SBS through progressive environmental degradation. We finally make several strategic recommendations to prevent, and ultimately reverse, this phenomenon.
MS was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (grant no. 16K00631), and KJG by the Natural Environment Research Council (grant no. NE/J015237/1).
This is the author accepted manuscript.
Awaiting citation and DOI