As the World Turns, Memories Blur

Absolutely no connection can be found between climate change and the disappearance of big fish in the oceans off our shores, as far as I know, but the vanishing of the fish does bring to light one of the underlying issues when it comes to awakening the public to the dangers of long-term climate change: the shortness of our memory.

It is one of the dirty little secrets about fishing off Southern California: The great fish — the ones you have seen in vintage photos, the ones capable of pushing man and gear to the breaking point — are largely gone from our shores.

Most people in the saltwater angling community know this secret. Skippers whisper it out of earshot of customers. Biologists have documented collapsed fisheries. The government passes regulations to check the decline.

Already our world is changing, and we as humans are oblivious, because despite our alleged ability to think we’re focused on what happened yesterday, or what happened fifteen minutes ago, or our date tomorrow. (Is there a word for this stuck-in-the-present factor?)

Here’s another example of what should be obvious to us, but isn’t. According to government surveys compiled in the May issue of the the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, this is what adult Americans used to weigh, and what we weigh now:

In l963-l965, adult women from twenty to seventy-four years old weighed an average of 138 pounds.

In l999-2002, women of the same age range weighed an average of 164 pounds.

In l963-l965, adult men weighed an average of 165 pounds.

In l999-2002, an adult American man weighed an average of l90 pounds.

So an average woman today weighs as much as an average man did back in the early sixties.

Who would’ve thunk? Or, perhaps I should say, who noticed?

And if no one notices changes in our recent past, how will we motivate people to prepare for, or avert, changes coming in our near future?


One thought on “As the World Turns, Memories Blur

  1. Have you seen Marc Cooper’s blog today? Him and a big fish. I sent him the Times article in case he didn’t see it (I didn’t, either). Nice dot-connecting there. -jl


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