Documenting Environmental Change with Photos

Shifting Baselines, an enviromental group, has posted an interesting group of images from their photo contest.

I especially liked the image of the crowded Indonesian island…looks like one good wave could wipe that place out. I also liked the Morris Island lighthouse photo since I’ve seen that lighthouse in Charleston, sitting out there in the water by itself. Someday I’d like to paddle out there and have a closer look.

The Shifting Baselines concept is described on their site like this:

Shifting Baselines Syndrome can also be called “Old Timer’s Syndrome,” as in, “you shoulda seen it when.” It’s about reminding people of how things used to look, not to depress them, but to keep them from settling for a degraded world and to prevent us from some day living in visual monotony.

This really reminded me of an excellent passage from a Travis McGee book about Florida, from the Empty Copper Sea:

Florida can never really come to grips with saving the environment because a very large percentage of the population at any given time just got there. So why should they fight to turn the clock back? It looks great to them the way it is. Two years later, as they are beginning to feel uneasy, a few thousand more people are just discovering it all for the first time and wouldn’t change a thing. And meanwhile the people who knew what it was like twenty years ago are an ever-dwindling minority, a voice too faint to be heard.

That was written in 1978 and is still true. It can just about apply to any place these days. I hope more people will start to appreciate the natural world around them so that the small changes are noticed before they turn into big changes.