According to botanists James Wandersee and Elisabeth Schussler from the Louisiana State University, people suffer from ‘plant blindness’, a term originated in 1998, after long discussions, literature studies and ‘a fair amount of trepidation’.
What is plant blindness?
Plant blindness is in the broad sense of the world ‘the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment, leading to the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs.’ Plant blindness is also referred to as the ‘inability to appreciate the aesthetic and unique biological features’ of plants and ‘the misguided, anthropocentric ranking of plants as inferior to animals, leading to the erroneous conclusion that they are unworthy of human consideration.’
This causes the problem that humans don’t pay attention to plants and the fundamental role they play in the preservation of life on earth. In some estimates, one in eight plant species is threatened with extinction, which affects the plant-dependent human population on earth, which keeps on growing.
What causes plant blindness?
One of the key factors that causes plant blindness is because of the ‘zoo-chauvinistic’ education, which means that educators tend to use animal examples over plant examples to teach biological concepts. Furthermore, Wandersee and Schussler also argue that the primary contributor to plant blindness is the nature of the human visual information-processing system. Humans simply don’t see all their surroundings. Other researchers have calculated that each second, the eyes generate more than 10 million bits of data for visual processing, but the brain extracts only about 40 bits and fully processes only the 16 bits that reach our conscious attention.
So how does your brain decide which 16 bits of visual information to focus on? Well, your brain focuses on movement, notable colors and patterns, known objects and possible threatening objects. And since plants are static beings, easily blend in with the background and form no threat to humans, they are easily ignored by humans.
How can it be cured?
Do you want to know more about the solutions Wandersee and Schussler have come up possibly cure plant blindness? Read their full research report here