Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saving the Planet One Public School Child at a Time

cross posted at Right Michigan

I would have thought, errantly as it turns out, that at least one member of our esteemed Michigan Senate would have considered getting back to basics in education when looking at the crushed state of our economy and the embarrassing condition of our largest public school district.

Alas, not a peep. Maybe later, but not on this particular vote.

Instead the Senate passed by a unanimous 37-0 tally, a revision to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. This is the act that, among other things, encouraged children to monitor the air pressure of school bus tires, to clean the coils of refrigerators and freezers, to caulk around and place plastic on windows, and to lower water heater temperatures by one degree all in the pursuit of an enlightened "Green" rating.

After-gym showers got uncomfortably cold after each member of Mrs. Smith's overcrowded 3rd grade class took a crack at the heater's dial.

This act, even as modified, could potentially go a long way toward saving the planet and the state's budget too! Just think about how much money schools could save if they take it just one small step further and, with a wink-wink and a good solid nudge, encourage the students to do all the duties of janitors, engineers, and bus drivers.

"If that tire won't hold air Sally, just put the bus on a jack and I'll have some forth graders come by later and change the tire."

The revised act is much less specific in its requirements but introduces two additional levels of awards to participating schools. "Emerald", and "Evergreen" join "Green" as possible Environmental Stewardship Designations, the level earned dependent on how many Earth friendly activities the school and its students engage in. Apparently the one designation fits all award didn't sound like enough compensation for kids climbing on ladders and caulking windows.

Areas of participation in the revised legislation include a recycling category that encourages the recycling of school supplies, composting, creating a waste-free lunch program, and using recycled, biodegradable, locally produced, or less toxic food and school supplies. (If cafeteria food has not improved a lot since I was in school, for extra credit I'd suggest recycling leftover pizza as a potential roofing material.)

There is also an energy category that could include offering at least one teaching unit on alternative energy, using alternative energy, renewable fuels, or specialized energy-efficient technology in school operations, implementing a school energy-saving program, performing energy audits at student homes and educating student families and the community, taking part in a project or event to promote improved vehicle fuel efficiency, and sponsoring an alternative energy presentation, project, or event.

"Dad, do you mind if Mrs. Jones stops by with her class to check our dryer's lint catcher?"

"Not at all, Son. Ask her if she can bring along some Cling Free."

The environmental protection category includes the following activities: participating in activities promoting the health of the Great Lakes watershed, offering a teaching unit on environmental issues facing this state, establishing or maintaining a natural Michigan garden project with native plants, establishing or maintaining an animal habitat project, participating in a local community environmental issue by activities such as letter-writing, attending public hearings, raising funds, or through community outreach.

"Hey, sweetie."

"Yes Dad?"

"Mrs. Anderson called. She wants you and your class to stop harassing her for watering twice a week."

Then there is a catchall category that could include adopting an endangered or threatened species and publicizing the activity, hosting an environmental or energy speaker, event, or field trip, establishing a student organization that participates in environmental activities, observing earth day by participating in an earth day event in April, maintaining an updated bulletin board or kiosk with information on environmental concerns and the school's actions in addressing those concerns, establishing an eco-reading program, updating the school's media center environmental materials, and visiting internet sites that educate about the environment and support endangered ecosystems.

"Dad, can I have $20 for school?"

"What do you need $20 for?"

"We're celebrating earth day tomorrow and Mr. Johnson wants to have some cash on hand in case he needs to get bailed out."

How could I possibly be so resistant to the initiatives of saving energy, money, whales, and the planet?

Honestly, my beef isn't with all of these individual items as many of them could be important learning tools. My beef is that school children are being encouraged by our government to become adherent pawns of a leftist political movement that is being ferociously challenged on its scientific and ethical merits.

As a denizen of this earth, I am not an advocate of ruining our planet by poisoning the water, polluting the air, or destroying ecosystems. I am a believer of evidence and believe the pursuit of truth does not necessarily run through the climate controlled cabin of Albert William Gore's private jet aircraft. Seriously, this is a guy that believes that the temperature of the earth is several million degrees just a couple kilometers below the surface, yet he still thinks one way to help solve our energy crisis is to starve third world children so that I can shove corn into my gas tank. I'm supposed to take my cues from that stupid git?

I love the idea that schools might save some money by insulating and caulking some windows. I'm pro saving money! I like it that their buses might drive on inflated tires and get better fuel efficiency. I'm pro saving fuel! Hey, I can buy into the lowering trash disposal costs by reducing the waste stream. I'm pro reusing resources if it is cost effective! Funny, tough economic times should already have necessitated these changes, even prior to our children becoming recruited as eco-warriors.

But it doesn't end there, now does it.

As soon as the guest speaker of the month comes into the school and starts preaching about the polar bears losing their environment, I want someone on the other side showing the satellite images that prove this to be untrue.

As soon as a guest speaker comes in and lauds Rachel Carson and her advocacy, I want thousands of pictures of the graves of third world children who needlessly died from tropical diseases because of the directives of her minions. Which, come to think of it, might make a world wide one-child policy moot, so there is that.

As soon as a guest speaker comes in and chirps about our country's nasty habit of emitting CO2, I want someone to make the counterargument that CO2 is considered by many scientists as being irrelevant in the AGW debate, could possibly be beneficial to the planet if greenery is any indication, or, in our current absence of any definitive scientific proof, is not entirely understood to be either helpful or harmful.

When a guest speaker comes into the classroom to tout the green benefits of corn ethanol, I wouldn't mind seeing him drink a nice nourishing glass of the stuff neath the poster of a starving African child, though he probably shouldn't be allowed to drive himself home afterward.

Are all of these suggestions dumb? Of course not.

Lets let the kids adopt a panda or one of Nancy Pelosi's salt marsh harvest mice. Let them learn about species on the brink of extinction like the snow leopard and the California condor. But, let them learn too that when the deer herd begins to starve in the depths of a heavy Michigan winter, that it isn't PETA or Nancy Pelosi that scatters hay to keep Bambi from buying the farm.

As hard as it is to believe for some people, people who do not swallow everything spewed by environmentalists are not necessarily enemies of the earth, and parents who don't want their children to be propagandized by the serially incorrect Al Gore ought to have someone speaking on their behalf during certain portions of these greening programs.

I think it is safe to say, however, that that someone will not be a member of the Michigan senate. It simply isn't worth the effort of showing up at the fight.

More from Jack McHugh at the Mackinac Center.

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