“Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life?”
Rachel Carson’s words of warning against pesticides, especially DDT, as set forth in her work,
published in 1962, issued in a new era of ecological awareness for the American public. Prompted by growing concern from voters in the early 60’s, John F. Kennedy, then president, formed a special commission to study the effects of pesticides. Almost a decade later, on January 1st, 1970, President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act into law. In April of that same year, I along with thousands of other college students and concerned citizens, celebrated (if not demonstrated) the first Earth Day. And for that day, for those of us who participated nationwide, we were not only Americans, but global citizens as well. Students will learn more about these events and the early beginnings of environmental protection by reviewing Chapter Nine, “Protecting the Environment” from their social studies text,
Exploring American History
(pages 664-667). Using the information in this text regarding the Exxon Valdez oil spill—which occurred on March 24, 1989 when an oil tanker hit a reef and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound—as a more recent unnatural disaster, we will engage in a discussion about the effects of the oil spill on local ecology, as well as its impact on Americans and the rest of the world.
Next, students will be presented with definitions for the word, “ecology” taken from the
American Heritage Dictionary:
1.a. The science of the relationships between organisms and their environments. Also called bionomics. b. The relationship between organisms and their environment. 2. The branch of sociology that is concerned with studying the relationships between human groups and their physical and social environments. Also called human ecology. 3. The study of the detrimental effects of modern civilization on the environment, with a view toward prevention or reversal through conservation. Also called human ecology.
Afterward, we will have a discussion concerning how one can take responsibility for the ecological viability of the Earth, i.e., locally, nationwide and globally. In this discussion we will refer to the work that students have been doing with respect to Long Island Sound ecology in their Science class and Reading or Study Skills classes. Lastly, students will refer back to their folders with regard to the questions
“Who are you?”
“Where did the world come from?”
They will be given approximately twenty minutes to expand upon their answers thus far, this time focusing on ecology in relation to Dr. Turekian’s quote at the beginning of this section.