09 June 2009

Generational amnesia

Papworth S.K., Rist J., Coad L., Milner-Gulland E.J. 2009. Evidence for shifting baseline syndrome in conservation. Conservation Letters 2:93-100.

Reading the article above after watching the extraordinary movie HOME leaves little space for hope.

Not only generational amnesia exists, but generally speaking young generations may be scarcely interested in the past. They don't know, and they don't really want to know.

Our four volunteers (three in their early twenties, one 18) went to bed because they were tired while we were watching HOME at our field station in Greece, during one of our dolphin courses. The two researchers in charge stayed and watched it in awe. I would not call our dolphin research and conservation courses an unbiased sample of humanity, and yet 4 people in 7 were not interested and left.

I wonder if even these wonderfully educational movies are just preaching to the converted, and if they really manage to prompt some people to change their behaviour and realise what we (including you and me) have done and are doing to the planet.

I remember the films Koyaanisqatsi (1982) and Powaqqatsi (1988), that based on the technology and knowledge of the time intended to convey a similar global conservation call -- to little avail as it seems.

Giovanni Bearzi

P.S. Only five days left to watch the movie HOME online:

Image: Evidence for shifting baseline syndrome from Papworth et al. 2009 (click on image to enlarge)

1 comment:

Christina Geijer said...

I find your expression ‘preaching to the converted’ spot on. I feel the same when trying to ‘spread the word’ [whether it’s the issue of overfishing or use of environmentally friendly washing up liquid] to my friends: only those that have an awareness and are already actively engaged in environmental or humanitarian issues really take things to heart and make an effort to change. Others agree that it’s a tragedy- of course- but then forget about it and have tuna sushi the following day. Not all scenarios are like this but it’s quite scary how superficial my generation is. After having seen the documentaries shown to the volunteers here in Vonitsa, I have decided to start hosting an ‘environmental evening’ once a month for friends, with dinner and a documentary followed by discussion and points of action. I’m hoping this more serious and organised approach will bring more people onboard or at least increase their knowledge of what’s going on.