The Suitcase Lady


April 22, 2014, 10:28 pm

Here are two basic facts:

The earth can survive without people.

People cannot survive without the earth.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these truths could be taught to every grade school child? What a meaningful celebration of Earth Day that would be. Instead, many schools will send the kids outside to pick up litter and tell them they are saving the world. How did we arrive at this state of magical thinking?

I know that even extremely young children can understand our dependence on the Earth. In my plant program, I have children trace their favorite foods back through the food chain……..the ice cream is made from milk which comes from the cow which eats the grass that grows in the light of the sun. After tracing back several menu items, the children can all answer my next question, “Can we live without plants and the sun’s energy?”

Many forces are working against education in our nation. At the moment, teaching details gets preference over teaching the big picture. Unfortunately, students don’t learn to think when their time is spent memorizing copious little facts for endless tests.

Parents who believe the world is 2,000 years old and science isn’t real exert influence in many school districts. In a nation that embraces political correctness, these people’s views sometimes get equal weight with those of the most educated scientists in the world. If only teachers would be allowed to reply to parents who are against science with the quote, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts.”

And lastly there is greed. Huge profits can be made by exploiting the Earth’s water, mineral, animal, plant and human resources. For-profit charter schools can generate big money for their shareholders from taxpayers’ dollars and simultaneously teach that unregulated capitalism is good for the planet.

We may be the species with the biggest brains, but if we succeed in making our planet uninhabitable for us, we will also be the stupidest.




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