Every generation has its challenges. In the ’30’s and ’40’s it was the Great Depression. In the ’60’s, it was the Vietnam War.  For today’s generation of students it should be global warning and not just global warming.  Unfortunately, global warming is something long term and not in your face like Vietnam and the Great Depression. Perhaps this is why you do not see more of this current generation marching in the streets and/or questioning the status quo regarding global warming? In other words, this generation needs to act now! Bottom line: The earth is a space ship traveling in space. There is nowhere else to go!

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to teach a high school ecology class. In reality, the class was created not so much for (ecological) conscious raising but to ensure that my sixty ecology students would satisfy the state’s science graduation requirements. The class was made up mostly of underachievers, perennial truants and so forth. Ironically it would be this group of students who would have the opportunity to experience ecology and survival in a way they never could have suspected.

My main goal was simply to challenge this group of students to think out of the box — to see the environment as not some billboard that they ignored daily. Instead, I wanted to give them a vision that would challenge their critical thinking skills about survival in the environments they lived and ignored.

Global warming never appeared in any textbook or articles that I used for the course. However there were references to environmental mishaps such as the toxic wastes of Love Canal (1978), Three Mile Island and a nuclear meltdown (1979) that motivated us to become more conscious about survival and the environment. For the people most affected it was survival in their face and I am sure there awareness persists today?

Beside the class lectures there were many classes that moved the students out of the classroom to experience the billboard called nature. For example, one project assigned teams of two students to one plot of 10 x 10 feet school property. It was each team’s responsibility to identify every form life in their plot of land. They saw insects of all varieties that lived among the grass, weeds etc. on the school grounds they walked on each day all-vying for survival.

I hired a boat to take the students out to the bay so they could see aquatic life when we dragged the bay. Pulling up old tires, cans etc. motivated the students to suggest a litter removal on the bay one Saturday and 95 % of my so-called underachieving students attended. A field trip to visit Piedmont’s High’s expensive and sophisticated ecology lab further increased their interest in ecology and survival which made they ask why not such a facility at our school?

If only 1% of this generation could confront the powers to be about global warming maybe the other 99 % would follow? It’s called the100th Monkey  (*please see Ken Keyes Jr.) Bottom line:  we need to make ecology a require course in all our high schools. Every generation needs an in your face challenge of survival? This is ALL our global warning. David Sortino has a Ph.D. in psychology and the director of the Neurofeedback Institute. Contact him at davidsortino@comcast.net or on his blog: Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Dr. David Sortino. 

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