(HOST) Commentator Ruth Page has been observing nature – human and otherwise – for many years. Today, she’s thinking about tomorrow’s election.
(PAGE) Millions of Americans have expressed jubilation because Sarah Palin, Republican nominee for Vice-President, is someone who thinks like an ordinary person, who could readily be a good friend. But it’s hard to think of either John McCain or the Democratic nominees, Obama and Biden, quite that way. They seem more intellectually elite, somehow, with their impressive vocabularies and brain-power. These people are clearly not ordinary. Good.
They’re examples of what good education in the United States should be able to offer every child, but doesn’t: knowledgeable teachers at every level, many with the science and math skills necessary to steer a world threatened by global warming, diminishing supplies of clean water, and disasterously increasing pollution of the air, soil, and water. Even our vast oceans are dirty, with numerous large "dead zones," where no oxygen-dependent organism can survive. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico has widened every year, and in the open ocean creatures from whales to the plankton at the bottom of the food chain are threatened by filth and junk.
Seabirds and fish die from consuming plastic bags that look like edible jellyfish; near the Arctic Circle, everything from old tennis shoes to discarded plastic toys piles up on the shorelines. Runoff from farms and fields dirties the oceans with oil and chemicals. The old-fashioned idea that Nature could absorb and clean up medicines, tossed-out car tires and plastics, and poisonous gases, has been shown to be one of the Great Lies of the present and preceding century.
We in the older generation now know we blew it; it’s going to be up to our children and grandchildren to try to renew a badly-damaged earth. Their greatest need will be for science education. They will have to understand current problems in depth, then invent and produce the technologies needed to correct the wrong turn we’ve taken, and salvage what they can for future human life.
Americans need to put good, tough education high on our action-agenda. Our teachers’ colleges and state universities need to join the elites, at least to the extent of developing the best minds available to find ways to help students understand more of the complexities of the world. Sophisticated science and math classes at all levels are needed. They must be taught appropriately, so there are no more generations like ours, many of whose adults worry more about who will coach their favorite football team than who will prepare their children for the earth-changing future they face. With a wise choice in tomorrow’s election, we may get a big boost.