The California Science Content Standards are blind. Our educational system continues
to avert its eyes from the biological crisis in our future. Throughout my career
as a teacher I have seen far-reaching destruction of our natural heritage. As
the State asks us to pay microscopic attention to cellular structures and flirts
with promoting genetic engineering, it provides little direction to addressing
ecosystem ruin. Teachers have no text, no guidelines, no standards nor any leadership
for stewardship and restoration of the ecosystems around us.
With little or no knowledge of the environmental problems we face, the average
citizen has no reason for concern. Where will they acquire this knowledge? As
we become more urbanized, fewer people have contact with natural ecosystems. Less
contact, less information. Less information, less concern. I believe that our
education system should provide the information and the context.
The unique ecosystems of this state continue to be degraded. Should we continue
to ignore that in teaching biology? Or should we adapt our standards to reflect
the reckless changes we are making before they become irreversible?
I propose these standards be added.
Human actions and population growth have degraded our natural environment. To
insure the continued functioning and existence of our varied ecosystems certain
actions must be mitigated or reversed. As a basis for understanding this concept:
Students know that destruction and fragmentation of habitat leads to lower
reproductive rates of species and the eventual extirpation of especially larger
Students know exotic species introduced to a habitat may end up spreading
uncontrollably and killing or driving out native species unequipped to compete
with the invader.
Students know that the loss of a key species may produce a cascade effect
of loss of organisms dependent on that species.
Students know that overuse of a species, especially if that use removes the
organism before reproductive age, will lead to extinction.
Taking the blinders off the Standards may give students a world they can live
Jeff Manker, Corralitos
Cut the Oil Umbilical Cord
Many say we should be developing alternate energy sources. But they are already
developed but not widely utilized. Solar power already exists. Costs for a system
that would make a house 95% self-sufficient run between $10,000 to $20,000. The
reason I say 95% self-sufficient is 5% of the time you need to run off the outside
Electrical Grid to perform repairs and maintenance.
What is needed is to require that houses must be 95% energy self-sufficient first
starting with new construction then requiring homes that are being sold to be
upgraded to meet this standard. The people that have the money to buy a home for
$400,000 to $500,000 can afford the additional $10,000 to $20,000 added to their
mortgage. This could be done by the City or County (think globally; act locally).
Having no electrical bills would offset the added monthly charge to the mortgage
caused by adding solar power.
Remember the power disruptions from the 1989 Earthquake or Rain Storm of 1982?
The fewer people without power during such disasters the better. Power plants
would be only supplying power and pollution 5% of the time during repair and maintenance
of clean home power systems. These systems would add value to your home.
The current infrastructure of power production and distribution is 19th and 20th
Century technology unsuited for the needs of the 21st Century. The technology
already exists. What is lacking is the political will to divorce ourselves from
the oil companies.
Shawn Pigott, Santa Cruz
Kilimanjaro porters need warm clothing
I recently returned from Africa after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Since returning
I have focused on helping improve conditions for the porters who work on Mount
During my September trek, three young Tanzanian porters perished from hypothermia.
The men who died were caught in an unexpected storm that hammered the mountain
with drenching rains, wind and cold on the third day of our trek. We couldnt
stop thinking of the families in the village below whose sons were not coming
home. Before we descended from the mountain, my climbing partners and I decided
to do something to help the Kilimanjaro porters.
Most Tanzanian porters, young men between the ages of 16 and 20, do not have adequate
clothing to protect themselves from the extreme conditions that can arise suddenly
on the 19,340' mountain. Because of poor economic conditions in Tanzania, there
is much competition for porter jobs even though the pay is meager by our standards.
Most of these teenage porters work to help support their families who live in
the villages at the base of the mountain.
My climbing partners and I have launched a clothing drive to collect cold weather
gear to send to Tanzania for the porters. Our plan is to send the donated clothing
to the church in the village of Marangu where the pastor of the church will make
certain that the donations are distributed fairly.
Items needed include used hiking boots, warm, waterproof jackets, waterproof pants,
long underwear, fleece jackets for layering, warm hats and gloves, balaclavas
and wool socks. Donated clothing for the Kilimanjaro Porter Project may be dropped
off at Toadal Fitness gyms, 113 Lincoln Street, downtown Santa Cruz, or 1212 17th
Avenue, Santa Cruz. For information, call me at 476-9742.