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Nature and Animals in Human Social Interactions

Nature and Animals in Human Social Interactions

Fostering Environmental Identity

(p.211) 16 Nature and Animals in Human Social Interactions
Ignoring Nature No More
Susan Clayton
University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that people ignore nature partly due to a perceived, and illusory, distinction between what is relevant to humans and what pertains to nature. However, people also like nature and are predisposed to have positive emotional responses to it. It discusses Peter Kahn's (1999) notion of environmental generational amnesia that claims that each generation is oblivious to the environmental degradation that has taken place since the time of the previous generation—the shifting baseline syndrome. The simultaneous concern and lack of concern for animals partially reflects a long-standing disjunction between humans and nature that seems to be a dominant theme in Western and perhaps particularly American culture.

Keywords:   nature, environmental identity, conservation, Peter Kahn, shifting baseline syndrome, American culture

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