Sunday, July 4, 2010

6th Great Extinction? (Don't scare the kids....)

What do you teach a young adolescent? How much of the truth do you dare bare?

We are in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction. Technology got us here, and I have my doubts it will get us out.

I have faith in life--creatures live in the deepest depths of the oceans, in scalding hot springs, deep within the Earth's crusts will survive whatever we might do in the next few generations.

I have faith in the sun--it will continue to beam on us for a good few more billion years.

I have faith in love--not that it will save us, but that we're redeemable, all of us.

I do not, however, have faith that the current culture has any inclination towards self-preservation. A bumper sticker on a Prius will not save us, no matter how near zero its emissions may be.

And here on the Fourth of July, in a land blessed with water and soil and a temperate climate, on a day marking the signing of the Declaration of Independence, most of us would starve to death without some sort of cash flow.

The man credited with writing the Declaration of Independence also wrote these words:

The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the earth returns to the unemployed... It is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.

Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785

What do you suppose he would say in my classroom today? In your classroom?

Photo from Poplicks here.


Kate said...

Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History's exhibit - Evolving Planet - is quite frank about the current mass extinction. We take the 7th grade every year as part of the science and English curriculum. So I say, dare to tell the truth.

doyle said...

Dear Kate,

You're right, of course. And I will.

(A bad habit of mine....)