John Humphrys and the case of deliberate ignorance.

In a July 2015 episode of the Today programme one of my RSPB colleagues spoke about the half a million people who have signed a petition to protect Europe’s most important wildlife laws.

At the time, I remember noting that the interviewer John Humphrys took what seemed to me a weird line of questioning. When Kate from RSPB explained that wildlife isn’t doing well in the UK (or elsewhere) Humphrys said that where he goes for a walk near his house there are plenty of birds and bees and flowers.

Now, playing devil’s advocate as every good grumpy news anchor should notwithstanding, this is an important problem for us to consider. If many people look at the trees and flowers near them and think that things are pretty much fine, then we as conservationists have a tough job on our hands.

Shifting baseline syndrome is not just a problem between generations. Even people might not notice the slow decline of the wildlife around them, like an imperceptibly but undeniably receding hairline, we may not notice until it’s too late to do anything.

What’s the solution? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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