By Patrick McShea
Museum educators who helped interpret We Are Nature: Living in the Anthropocene during the ground-breaking exhibition’s ten-month run now pay close attention to explanations of Anthropocene-related themes. When exceptional examples are encountered, we feel compelled to share them.
Recently, in a New York Times article about how a decades-long decline in insect populations is now causing alarm, author Brooke Jarvis addresses the apparent invisibility of environmental degradation that occurs over generations.
She presents the term “shifting baseline syndrome” for the phenomenon, and by way of memorable example summarizes the results of an unusual research study from 2008.
Marine biologist Loren McClenachan, of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, quantified the decline of fish associated with Florida Keys coral reefs by examining historic photos, 1956 – 2007, of the sportfishing customers and catches of three long established charter boat companies.
Although smiles remained consistent across the decades, prize fish got considerably smaller. As Jarvis notes in her summary, “The world never feels fallen, because we grow accustomed to the fall.”
For more details, check out Brooke Jarvis’ full article, The Insect Apocalypse Is Here.
Patrick McShea works in the Education and Visitor Experience department of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.