Friday, January 07, 2005


Too often, environmental teaching takes the form of fearful and gloomy messages, presented to children as early as kindergarten or even preschool. It's a disturbing trend with potentially devastating ramifications. In 1994, Nancy Bray Cardozo, writing in Audubon magazine, shared her uneasiness about children's environmental education. Her 6-year-old daughter had received a hand-me-down bed from an aunt, and she was about to sleep in it for the first time. Cardozo noticed that something was bothering her daughter, and she asked what it was. The little girl told her, "They killed trees to make my bed.' The gloom and anxiety often overshadow the facts. Students become alarmed about toxic waste, acid rain, deforestation and global warming, without ever learning basic scientific facts about these complex issues.

Environmental education became popular in the 1990s, when global warming and species extinction issues reached fever pitch. Parents noticed their children coming home with strange ideas about the natural world. Adults were condemned for normal things like having a job as a logger, or driving cars. One parent wrote to The New York Times, "I have noticed a disturbing trend. With each passing school year, my children are more convinced that humans and technology are bad for the planet.' Observations like these prompted Michael Sanera and me to review high school textbooks covering history, biology, civics and environmental science to examine how they dealt with environmental issues. What we found led to our book "Facts, Not Fear.'

The misinformation was astounding. For example, to illustrate the dangers of global warming, several textbooks publish pictures of how flooded cities might look if the ice caps melted including drawings of New York with all but the tallest buildings submerged. Actually, scientists anticipate that global warming might lift sea levels by between 6 and 40 inches not hundreds of feet. Other textbooks have graphs showing world population climbing inexorably upward. In fact, population growth rates have been declining since the mid- 1960s, and most demographers expect the world's population to level in about 50 years.

When it comes to forests, young people receive images of severe devastation in the United States. "Large areas of forest also have been wasted,' says "Biology: Living Systems' (Oram, 1989), implying that cutting trees to build houses or make paper was a waste of resources. "Environmental Science: Framework for Decision Making' (Chiras, 1988) reports: "Commercial interests in the United States took an especially narrow view of the forests until after World War II, seeking monetary gain with little concern for the future.' Rarely do students learn the economic realities of sustaining forests, or that until the early 1900s abundant wood and low timber prices made replanting trees a losing business proposition, or that even Gifford Pinchot, the famed first director of the Forest Service, was unable to make any money planting trees when he managed timber in North Carolina.

Jim Bowyer, a professor of forest products at the University of Minnesota, became concerned about student attitudes when he taught a course called "Natural Resources as Raw Materials.' Some students were overtly hostile to forestry and he tried to find out why. So, he developed a survey on forestry and related environmental issues in the late 1990s that was taken by more than 2,000 students at 11 universities in the United States. The results were troubling. Seventy-three percent of the students believed: "At current rates of deforestation, 40 percent of the current forests in the United States will be lost by the middle of the next century.' In fact, the forested area of the United States has been stable since 1920 and more timber is grown than is cut every year. Seventy-two percent of the students thought that populations of elk, pronghorn antelope and wild turkey have declined in the past 50 years. Truth is, they have increased dramatically.

What bothered Bowyer most was a comment made in a classroom. He had asked the students how old a tree lives on average. Some thought several thousand years others "until the tree is cut down.' In other words, some thought that trees could live forever. As Bowyer discovered, students are not simply uninformed they are misinformed in one direction. They are led to think that our natural resources, including our forests, are in danger of elimination....

A study by the Independent Commission on Environmental Education (now the Environmental Literacy Council) concluded: "Many high- school environmental-science textbooks have serious flaws. Some provide superficial coverage of science. Others mix science with advocacy.'



If it costs the taxpayer heaps and hardly anybody wants it, then it MUST be good!

Despite spending millions to promote its clean-energy effort, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has lost nearly 75 percent of the program's participants -- many of them phantom, nonpaying customers. Today, fewer than 2 percent of the DWP's customers are signed up for the Green Power Program, and the number is declining, although millions of dollars was spent to market it, using the controversial contracts with the public relations firms of Fleishman-Hillard and the Lee Andrews Group. Since it was launched in 1999, the program has been the subject of glowing national press coverage -- and stinging internal audits, which found that the conservation effort included more than $4.8 million in marketing costs.

Enrollment in the program has dropped from a peak of nearly 100,000 of the DWP's 1.4 million electricity customers to about 27,000 today. DWP officials acknowledged Tuesday that most of the losses came after a critical audit persuaded them to drop some 60,000 low-income customers who were assigned to the Green Power Program even though they weren't paying the $3 monthly charge for it. Still, the DWP calls the program a success, noting that it's one of the nation's largest such efforts.

The program has dwindled from nearly 40,000 paying customers a couple of years ago to 27,000 today, but DWP officials say it's still one of the bigger energy-conservation efforts in the nation. "Of our paying customers, a lot have stuck with it," said Walter Zeisl, a DWP spokesman for the Green Power Program. "Twenty-seven-thousand customers is still a sizable figure that shows that consumers want to bring environmentally friendly energy to Los Angeles."

The Green Power Program once was the centerpiece of the DWP's energy-conservation efforts, with the utility paying Fleishman-Hillard and the Lee Andrews Group millions of dollars a year to market it. Those contracts have been the target of highly critical audits by City Controller Laura Chick and are now swept up into county and federal investigations of the administration of Mayor James Hahn. Part of the DWP's $3 million annual payment to Fleishman-Hillard involved the Green Power Program, while all of the Lee Andrews Group's $2.4 million annual contract was for the program. Both contracts were terminated in 2004 amid a growing "pay-to-play" scandal involving allegations that city contracts were traded for political donations and favors....

Green Power customers pay an average of $3 a month more on their power bills, with the added cost going toward more expensive renewable energy sources such as solar and geothermal power.....

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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