Teachers of Green

There was a very interesting article by PAUL KRUGMAN entitled Colorless Green Ideas in the New York Times. In it he debunked the claim that that curbing greenhouse gases would detrimental to our way of life and our economy. There are a lot of people who think that it would seriously change the way we live if were to go green. Krugman offers a real-world example to put the idea to rest. He offers as an answer the economy of California which is thriving even when it has put into the practice the most rigorous environmental standards and control on greenhouse gas emissions than any State in the country. Energy efficiency and conservation have been enacted through law, and as a result the average Californian uses about a third of the energy that the average American uses. All of this happened when energy companies were given incentives to become more environmentally sustainable, and people in California pay more for energy. And Califrornia cities have become greener over the past 20 years, while cities like Atlanta have become more polluted. Los Angeles 20 years ago had extremely high ground level ozone levels, while Atlanta had moderate levels. Los Angeles has reduced its ground level ozone levels below those in Atlanta.

So one of the great teachers of green is a state like California. It is in a way, a bellweather state—an example of how to enact greener policies without derailing the economy.

Another teacher of green has to be the book and movie by Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, which by now everyone knows received an Oscar. But what is more important is the science upon which Gore’s book and movie are based. His work is carefully researched, and elegantly presented. A good model for teaching.

Today I heard a talk show host say again that global warming caused by human activity is a hoax, and that all of the “so-called warming” is due to fluctuations in solar energy from the sun. I looked into this claim, and there have been some studies done, and one by MIT indicated that there might be a trend of more energy, but it is so slight that it would take a century for the increase to have any effect on climate. Greenhouse gas emissions, as shown in many studies, is the cause for the increased temperature of the Earth, and the resulting increased melting of glaciers, rising sea level, rising sea level temperatures, and potentially more severe weather conditions.

So a third teacher of green has to be the research being done on climate change, and the results that have been reported for many years.

Now it is time to use this knowledge to do something.

About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former high school teacher, and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University