TEACHING YOUTH ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

by Albert V. Baez

Introduction
~~~~~~~~~~~~
The life support systems and non-renewable resources on the Earth
are being decimated by a burgeoning population which possesses
unprecedented power born of science and technology. The impact of
technology on the environment has in many ways been devastating. Yet
science and technology have also been the greatest forces for beneficient
social change in human history and will continue to be needed Lo solve the
economic and social problems of the future. Since the future lies in the
hands of our youth we must educate them to cope with its environmental
problems. The damage already done to the environment is so great that all
education and especially education in science must become imbued with an
environmental ethic to reverse the present trend. It is noticed that the
solution does not lie in adding environmental ethics courses to the
science curriculum but in finding ways to allow ecological and
environmental concerns to permeate existing courses and textbooks. This
could have the added advantage of making them more relevant and
interesting. The environmental ethic must guide all aspects of our lives
and will also have to be taught by example outside of formal education.
"How, should the science curriculum be structured and science
teaching organized so as to give insights into the ecological and
environmental impact of technology in modern society and instill in young
people a feeling of global responsibility?" This is the charge to which
this paper is addressed.
In response we shall consider the ecological problems that confront
humanity and how they are related to science and technology. We will give
some examples of how to incorporate environmental concerns into basic
science courses to achieve not only an awareness of the impact of science
and technology but also a motivation on the part of young people to
participate in revitalizing the Earth's environment. Introduction of the
environmental dimension could, at the very least, make science courses
more relevant and interesting.


The problem: an Earth in crisis
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It has been noticed that the environment is in crisis. All around
us it is suffocating and crumbling under the impact of human action. The
Worldwatch Institute states: "Our generation is the first to be faced with
decisions that will determine whether the Earth our children inherit will
be habitable (Brown et al., 1989).
Recital of the major trends has become a litany: the altering of the
Earth's asphere by the burning of fossil fuels, the destruction of the
protective ozone layer by man-made chemicals, the depletion of tropical
rain forests, the extinction of plant and animal species, the spread of
deserts, the acid poisoning of lakes and forests, the toxification of air,
soil and water and the continuing nuclear threat (WCED, 1987).
Concern for the Earth, which found massive expression in the first
Earth Day 20 years ago, has been raised to a new level of public awareness
by the media. To cite just two examples, Time magazine recently broke
from its tradition of celebrating a _Man of the Year_ by choosing instead
the Earth as _Planet of the Year_ and _National Geographic_ devoted its

2

last issue in 1988 to the topic of mending the Earth. Its cover was a
hologram showing the Earth both whole and shatred.
During the past 20 years countless individuals and organizations,
large and small, have worked quietly and incessantly towards conservation
and ecological sanity to bring about a heightened interest in and concern
for a life-sustaining Earth.
Our task as science educators is twofold. One is to clarify the
role that science and technology have had in disrupting the Earth's
ability to sustain life and the other is to motivate students to use their
knowledge, including that of science and technology, to restore the
Earth's environment.


Four related problems
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It now seems clear that the disruption of the ecological balance in
the biosphere is due to the impact of _homo sapiens_ - the culprit
species. All the trends mentioned have their origin in human activities.
It is no wonder, then, that most of them are exacerbated by the explosive
growth of human populations. A child born today has 5,000 million
neighbors. At age 35 they will, according to present projections, number
about 10,000 million and close to 20,000 million at age 70.
The burgeoning population problem is probably the most serious of
the four so-called Ps: _population, pollution, poverty_ and the
_proliferation_ of weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological and
nuclear. A not unique example of the interaction of the first three is to
be found in Mexico.
The close to 20 million population of Mexico City, exceeding that of
the entire continent of Australia, has a fossil fuel pollution problem
that often turns day into night and poverty which belies the fact that
Mexico is rich in natural resources,
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction also poses a
serious threat to the biosphere. A nuclear holocaust must, of course, be
avoided at all costs inasmuch as it represents the ultimate environmental
catastrophe but the other weapons of mass destruction - chemical and
biological - also pose massive environmental threats. It seems ironic
that these weapons bear the imprint and the titles of the three basic
sciences: physics, chemistry and biology.
Even preparations for conventional war leave ecological scars on the
Earth. In a Sierra Club publication titled _Air, Water, Earth, Fire - The
Impact of the Military on World Environmental Order_ it says: "We should
have been alarmed long ago. It is a sad commentary on our powers of
foresight that we did not understand sooner that the shadow of Armageddon
hovers over mankind."
The list of problems could easily be extended beyond the four Ps but
they give us aeasily remembered combination of environmentally related
global woes and their common characteristics: they are all interrelated,
they all have an impact on the environment and they all tend to
deteriorate the quality of life. In varying degrees they are the
byproducts of technology.


Technology and environmental destruction
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Modern technology has given humanity unheard of power to manipulate
earth, air, fire and water. With modern bulldozers and power shovels we
can move masses of the Earth's surface the size of an Egyptian pyramid in
weeks instead of years (Malone et al., 1984). The effluents of the
factories can raise to dangerous levels the temperature of rivers. We can
darken the sky with atmospheric pollution, produce temperatures that match
those of the sun and destroy a modern city in minutes.

3

Such power has enabd modem man to accelerate all the trends toward
the environmental deterioration mentioned earlier. So, even as we
acknowledge that technology has yielded benefits and conveniences, we are
overwhelmed by its awesome destructive consequences. They now often are
out of control and call for action.


The relation between science and technology
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Paul Kirkpatrick (1986), at Stanford University, once wrote: "I
think the human race is a hostage of its technology, which is the child of
its science. I used to think we were in a noble racket (science) and that
the truth should make us free. Now I have to be dubious".
Science and technology have grown out of two different but equally
important activities. One is the search for knowledge and understanding
which characterizes science. The other is the application of knowledge to
satisfy human needs which characterizes technology. It is often not
recognized that they are fundamentally different modes of activity with
the result that the word science is sometimes used loosely and erroneously
to describe both (Baez, 1976).
The scientist is motivated by a curiosity which springs from _the
longing to know and understand_. The outputs of scientific endeavor
include hypotheses, theories and laws which explain the observed
phenomena. When the scientist can say, "I understand," his task is done,
at least temporarily, even though there are deeper levels of understanding
to be pursued.
How about technology? It has been said that science explores what is
and technology creates _that which never existed before_. _Creativity_
is, therefore, the hallmark of technology the way _curiosity_ is the
hallmark of science. One cannot generate science without being curious
and one cannot generate technology without being creative. Unlike
science, whose outputs are _explanations_, the outputs of technology are
_things_, such as new devices and procedures. The aim of the technologist
is to produce things that satisfy human wants and not necessarily to
theorize about the devices and techniques used in the process. The
negative aspects of technology stem from one of its objectives which is to
_control_ the materials and the forces of nature through procedures and
devices designed ostensibly to satisfy human needs but often used to
proliferate human wants.
The creative aspects of technology have sometimes been downgraded
and not given sufficient attention in education. Recent innovative trends
in science education have honored and tried to infuse into general
education the _spirit of science_, but they have often neglected the
_spirit of change through design_ which characterizes the creative aspects
of technology as practiced by engineers.
The need to "mend the Earth" could to a large extent be satisfied if
we applied the methodology of technology to it. The technologist tackles
problems brought to him by his clients. He builds bridges, skyscrapers,
nuclear weapons or Earth satellites for a fee. Much more seldom have
technologists been instructed to generate a blueprint for "mending the
Earth".


Human needs = real or perceived
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Since it is the role of technolo to develop the products that can
satisfy human needs it is important to consider what the basic human needs
are and how they can be satisfied in ways which exemplify environmental
concern.
In developing countries the word need usually means the most basic
of survival _needs_: food, shelter and clothing. In the affluent

4

countries, on the other hand, it is common to find a host of consumer
goods which often represent a response to "advertisement-driven desires"
but euphemistically called "needs." Gandhi's remark that there are enough
for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed comes to mind.
The link between the basic human needs and the environment is
obvious: our physical needs demand access to natural resources such a
land, water and air, which, with the aid of radiant energy from the sun,
generate plants and animals - the so called renewable living resources.
But human survival and development also require non-renewable
resources such as minerals and fossil fuels which are being depleted by an
ever increasing human population. All of these resources, renewable and
non-renewable, are to be found on a thin layer of the Earth's surface
known as the biosphere.
In our catalogue of human needs we should, of course, not forget
some which go beyond the purely physical. People need meaningful
employment, leisure time and the human qualities of respect, care and
affection which foster self esteem. They also need to derive aesthetic
enjoyment from contact with pristine nature. Deprived of these a prson
may languish just as surely as if deprived of food and water.
Satisfaction of these needs in the affective domain is very important for
the quality of life.


Ecology = the newest science
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Physics, chemistry and biology, the basic sciences, grew up
independently and have traditionally been taught as separate disciplines.
But of late it has proven useful to recognize the interrelationships among
them and to teach them in integrated ways or at least under the umbrella
of an integrating concept. One such concept is that of the sciences of
earth and space. Another is the new science of ecology (Buchsbaum et al.,
1957) (Bybee, 1979).
The concepts of ecology and environment are closely linked. Ecology
is the branch of science concerned with how organisms are interrelated
with one another and with the environment. The main tenet of ecology is
that all things are interrelated.
Ecology is usually considered a branch of biology, because the term
_organism_ means living body. The concepts of life and life support
systems are, therefore, central to ecology (Hardin, 1956).
Renewed interest in life and its processes currently finds
expression from biological research in the structure of DNA, to concern
about the destruction of life support systems anthe csequent
extinction of species of plants and animals. Ultimately, of course, it
also leads to a consideration of the possible extinction of human life on
Earth in a nuclear holocaust. Jonathan Schell (1984) speaks of this as an
"awakening". He writes: "In the last few years much of the public having
largely ignored the nuclear peril for almost four decades has been
discovering a different faith... they have been choosing human survival.
This awakening is new, and its consequences are still uncertain but it
promises to be one of the great changes of heart in mankind... that alter
the psychological and spiritual map of the world."
But the scope of ecology goes far beyond that of biology alone. It
considers all the factors that make life possible on our planet. It must
also consider disciplines such as economics and the social and behavioral
sciences which deal with the motivation of people to utilize natural
resources.
The resources which sustain life are being destroyed by an
increasing world population which tends to use its technology to generate
non-sustainable economic development. It is destroying the biological
diversity which provides a cushion for possible recovery from an
ecological disaster. One has begun to realize that the survival of plants

5

and animals, including people, may depend upon the understanding of the
principles of ecology and upon general adoption of an environmental ethic.
The reason ecology is so important at this particular time is that
humanity is entering a critical era in which the knowledge that comes from
physics, chemistry and biology, treated separately, is not sufficient to
cope with the problems of human survival. It must be supplemented by and
integrated with the knowledge from the other sciences and disciplines.
All knowledge must be integrated and treated in the holistic way
characteristic of ecology.


Life, rights and ethics
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The concept of rights has entered the environmental arena from
philosophical, religious and scientific considerations. The principles of
ecology and the teachings of some Eastern religions are forcing people in
modern societies to realize that plants and animals also have a right to
exist (Borelli, 1986).
The well-known United Nations Declaration of Human Rights has been
gaining acceptance among the nations. It is not so well known, however,
that in 1982 the United Nations adopted a resolution known as the World
Charter for Nature which invites Member States "to conduct their
activities in recognition of the suprme importance of protecting natural
systems, maintaining the balance and quality of nature and conserving
natural resources, in the interests of present and future generations."
Ethics deals with right and wrong. It is the author's point of view
that activities that tend to destroy or diminish life are wrong and those
which enhance life are right. His basis for an environmental ethics is,
therefore, "respect and affection for living things" which he prefers to
the less controversial "respect and affection for nature (Shrader-
Frechette, 1981).


Links between peace and the environment
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Itis obvious that a nuclear holocaust would have a devastating
effect on the world's environment. Even preparations for war are
destroying parts of our natural heritage. But the massive extinction of
species which is taking place due to the rainforest deforestation, for
example, will have an equally devastating effect unless it is curbed.
Broadly speaking, peace has a benign effect on the environment whereas war
and preparations for war have destructive effects. Benito Juares, a
Mexican president born of Zapotec Indian parents, once said that "respect
for the rights of others is the basis of peace". He had people in mind,
of course, but if we grant that other living things - plants, animals and
the Earth itself (Lovelock, 1979) - have rights, we have, in an
environmental ethic based upon "respect and affection for living things",
the basis for both peace with the Earth and peace on the Earth.


Rethinking the basics. The "four Cs"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To improve the quality of life, education would have to generate
fundamental guidelines for thought and action. These basic guidelines
include the four Cs; _curiosity, creativity, competence and compassion_
(Baez, 1980).
Children seem to be born with three of these traits: curiosity,
creativity and compassion which, unfortunately, seem to be stifled at an
early age. Competence, on the other hand, has to be learned. No one is
born with the ability to tie a shoe-lace, ride a bicycle or read a book.
We have noted that science cannot begin without curiosity; that

6

technology, which depends upon design, cannot develop without creativity
and that neither can blossom without special competencies. But both
science and technology without the guidance of compassion can lead us into
unethical paths. Caring for the Earth growing out of compassion is a
prerequisite to prevent the destruction of the life support systems.


The special role of compassion
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Stan Croner, the author of _An Introduction to the World
Conservation Strategy_ (WCS.1980) wrote: "There are... reasons (other than
the integration of conservation and development) for preserving the
species. Simple human compassion is one. Respecting the rights of other
kinds of life to exist is another. Perhaps most importantly, we are
obligated to our descendants not to leave the earth less interesting and
less wondrous because we have been here."
Although compassion is a word that does not enter readily into the
discourse of scientists it is interesting to note the writings of several
physicists who have used it.
Weisskopf (1972) hits written: "Science cannot develop unless it is
pursued for the sake of pure knowledgend insight. But it will not
survive unless it is used intensely and wisely for the betterment of
humanity and not as an instrument of domination by one group over another.
There are two powerful elements in human existence: compassion and
curiosity. Curiosity without compassion is inhuman; compassion without
curiosity is ineffectual."
Einstein has written: "... A human being is part of the whole called
by us, _Universe_, a part limited in time and space. We experience
ourselves, our thoughts and our feelings as something separated from the
rest, a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness. This delusion is a
kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to
affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free
ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace
all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
I can think of no stronger endorsement of the idea that compassion
lies at the heart of an environmental ethic.


What can be done to infuse an environmental ethic into science and
technology education?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Courses in environmental ethics can be taught in universities. But
no doubt they alone cannot produce the widespread diffusion of an
environmental ethic which is needed to "mend the Earth." The time has come
to put greater emphasis in all science courses on the "four Es": ecology,
entropy, environment and ethics (Rifkin, 1981).
Formal education is good at transmitting information but not so good
at generating attitudes. There is an important body of knowledge in the
sciences upon which the right ecological decisions must be made and this
can be the subject of lectures, books, and other publications. But
changes in attitude toward the Earth will probably come about in more
subtle ways. For example, during a field trip, a biology teacher can, in
passing, make remarks and take actions which illustrate a love and aspect
for nature which the student may absorb.
In order to change the way teachers teach it will be necessary to
generate special seminars and workshops to show them how to infuse
environmental and ethical concepts into their teaching. Incentives in the
form of pay and/or release time. would have to be administered to
potential leaders to run these workshops and to teachers to induce them to
participate in these pattern-changing activities.
Special chapters will have to be written for science textbooks

7

illustrating the concepts of ecology, environment and environmental
ethics. The basic concepts of the various scientific principles need to
be illustrated with environmental examples. New graphics in the texts and
new problems at the end of chapters in science textbooks will have to be
generated to illustrate ecological pincipls. Authors who have
demonstrated special talents in this area could be encouraged to run
special workshops for potential authors.
The sections which follow contain information on topics dealing with
ecology and the environment and suggestions on how to incorporate them
into the teaching of the basic sciences.


Selected resources
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Before considering the basic sciences separately we mention several
sources which can provide a wealth of information on teaching science in
ways that are socially relevant and environmentally responsible. One is
the set of nine volumes which came out of the Bangalore Conference,
_Science and Technology Education and Future Human Needs_. The title of
Volume 8 _The Environment and Science and Technology Education_ (Baez, et
al., 1987) contains the word environment but the other volumes also deal
with environmentally related topics.
Another source is _Science and Society - Teacher's Guide_ (Lewis,
1981). The Science and Society Project was set up in 1976 under the
direction of John Lewis to demonstrate the relevance of the science
learned in the school and the laboratory to the world outside the
classroom. It is not surprising, therefore, to find such topics as
_population, food and agriculture, energy, mineral resources, resources of
land and water and looking to the future_ among the topics covered.
The books published by Unesco in its New Trends Series on the
teaching of the basic sciences starting in 1967 have increasingly
introduced articles which suggest how to teach science in ways which are
relevant to the problems of society including those of the environment.
There are two other books I would recommend highly to any one
looking for examples of environmental topics and how they are related to
the basic sciences. One is _Living in the Environment_ by G. Tyler
Miller, Jr. (1985). This book has a 28 page bibliography with close to
300 annotated entries. It covers every conceivable topic linking ecology
with the basic sciences, economics, sociology, ethics and much more. It
has a 15 page glossary which can serve - as we illustrate below - as a
starting point in any search of ecological topics related to the basic
sciences.
The other is _Biology - Its Human Implications_ by Garrett Hardin
(1956) which also has an extensive bibliography. Of particular interest
is his last part titled _The Web of Life_ in which he discusses such
topics as the _nature and origin of life, the transformation of matter in
nature and energy and population problems_. His treatment of the
relationship between the laws of thermodynamics and the energy
requirements of living organisms is an excellent example of the clarity
that can be achieved in an introductory text. Both of these books were
designed to be used at the first year university level but any attempt to
write materials linking ecology with the basic sciences at the school
level would benefit from their study.
A recent document which links biology to the goals of conservation
is the _World Conservation Strategy_ (1980) produced by the International
Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The
concepts which could enrich a biology course are found in the objectives
of the Strategy which are: (a) to maintain _essential ecological processes
and life support systems_: (b) to preserve _genetic diversity_, and (c) to
ensure _sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems_. A short and
photographically illustrated introduction to the Strategy has been

8

published by IUCN (Croner, 1984) as well as a manual for introducing the
concepts of the strategy to students in school (1984).


Infusing ecological concerns into the teaching of the basic sciences
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Setting up a separate course in ecology or environmental science is
an idea but presently probably an impossible alternative because of
overcrowded curricula. Under the circumstances perhaps the most practical
way to transmit the ecological message to students who are enrolled in
school science courses is to infuse physics, chemistry, biology and even
mathematics courses with examples, illustrations and problems dealing with
ecological concepts and concerns. In this way the students will be
environmentally sensitized at the same time they are learning the basic
scientific concepts.
One might begin by selecting some key concepts around which to
develop the environmental theme. _Life, food_ and _energy_ suggest
themselves. These are core ideas from biology, chemistry and physics,
respectively, but they permeate the substance of all three sciences. What
goes on in plants and animals, for example, is a continuous series of
chemical transformations. Some examples follow.


Biology
~~~~~~~
Since we have linked the environmental ethic with respect and
affection for living things it is natural to consider first biology - the
science of life. Ecological topics which could be covered in a biology
course in addition to those already mentioned in connection with Hardin's
book include: _the genetic aspects of some human problems, interactions of
heredity and environment, the conquest of the land by plants, and man:
evolution in the future_.
As an illustration of how to use the glossary in Miller's book to
suggest topics from biology related to the environment we list herewith
the biologically related entries under A,B,C.: abiotic, aerobic, bacteria.
biodegradable, biogas, biogeochemical cycles, biological control, biomass,
biome, biosphere, biota, carnivore, carrying capacity, clearcutting,
climax ecosystem, climax species, coastal wetlands, commons, community,
complete proteins, contour farming, cultural eutriphication. Clearly,
perusing the entire glossary would yield many more terms.


Chemistry
~~~~~~~~~
Food is the form of energy needed to sustain human life and its
analysis belongs to the subject of chemistry. M.S. Swaminathan describes
_food, fodder, fuel_ and _fibre_ - all intimately linked to chemistry - as
the basics of livelihood security and the quality of life.
In the '70s Isaias Raw (1974) wrote a chemistry laboratory guide
titled _What People Eat_ and, with collaborators, published a pioneering
chemistry programme based on nutrition (Raw et al, 1975).
Again, sampling Miller's glossary, this time under D,E,F, we find
the following chemical terms linked with ecology: DDT, decomposer,
desalination, deuterium, dissolved oxygen content, emission standard,
entropy, essential amino acid, food additive, food chain, food
contaminant, fossil fuels, freon. The other letters of the alphabet yield
many more.
_Food, Agriculture and Education_, Volume 6 in the Bangalore Series
(Rao, 1987) contains 25 articles and case studies dealing with food and
agriculture in biology education.
If we consider the ecological disasters that have occurred in recent

9

years we cannot help also mentioning _pollution_ as a topic involving
chemistry which must be included for consideration.


Physics
~~~~~~~
The concept of energy springs from physics but cannot be divorced
from chemistry or biology. Anything that moves possesses kinetic energy
and this, of course. includes all animals and some plants. A tall redwood
tree possesses obvious gravitational potential energy while food, fodder
and fuels possess forms of chemical pottial energy.
In dealing with ecology and the environment perhaps no topic in
science is more important than the laws of thermodynamics. The first
states that energy cannot be created or destroyed - it can only be
converted from one form to another. This is the so calle law o
conservation of energy. Physicists are sometimes exasperated when
environmentalists urge us to "conserve" energy when they really mean we
should not waste it. The laws of physics ensure that energy will be
"conserved".
> <HR><H3>]ǁfDŽǵLJ!</H3> he second law of thermodynamics
which states that whenever energy, is converted to heat the _availability_
of some of the energy is lost. It is no longer available for use because
it has, in a sense. become "degraded". This degradation is occurring on
an enormous scale world-wide especially due, for example, t the
widespread use of automobiles.
A good bibliographical source on this subject is Volume IV of
Unesco's _New Trends in Physics Teaching_ (1984). Forthcoming school
level Unesco physics education publications will place emphasis on the
environment and other topics of societal relevance as revealed in the
extensive work being done in Italy, the Philippines, Kenya, Tanzania, the
Netherlands ind Israel.
_Energy Resources in Science Education_, Volume 7 in the Bangalore
Conference Series (Kirwan, 1987) is rich in articles linking energy with
environmental concerns.


Mathematics
~~~~~~~~~~~
Because the impact of an expanding human population is so great the
one mathematical topic chosen here as an example is _exponential growth_.
The human population of the Earth has been doubting recently approximately
every 35 years. A simple but important aspect of exponential growth is
the formula for doubling time T which obeys the equation T = 70/p. If the
yearly percentage population growth p is, for example, 2 per cent, the
doubling time is 35 years.
Another characteristic of exponential growth is that the increment
during one doubling time is equal to the sum of all the previous doubling
time increments. In the recent past, for example, the use of petroleum
fuels was doubling every ten years. If the rate of growth had remained
constant, the increment in their use during the next decade alone would
exceed the sum of the increments in all previous decades. There are ways
of dramatizing this property by graphical constructions.
Microcomputers are playing an exciting role in the teaching of
science-related ecological subjects but we reluctantly leave this topic to
another time.


Who decides what to teach?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Scientific knowledge continues to grow exponentially. One estimate
is that it doubles every 10 years. It is difficult, therefore, to choose

10

what new material should be added to the science curriculum. For this we
need the advice of the physicists, chemists and biologists who are doing
research in these fields. They are the ones who _do_ science and know
what the trends are but, to be helpful in educational reform, they must
belong to that small category of scientists who are also interested in
teaching. And among these we must seek out those who want to link
environmental concern with their subject matter.
The teaching of technological subjects lies outside the scope of
this paper but it is important to be aware that the environmental impact
of science on society comes about through technology. Because technology
arises out of human demands rather than out of a systematic search for new
knowledge it is not easy to put it into neat categories.
Superconductivity, new, approaches to nuclear fusion, new fuel sources and
biotechnology come to mind as examples of the newest technologies. But to
decide what to teach about technology in school science we must, again,
seek out the practitioners. Some of these are research scientists who
have been lured into technology through natural interests or by financial
rewards. Still others are engineers. Those which practice technology can
help us choose the content of technological material to include in our
teaching of science.
In the '60s we learned how important it was to involve practicing
scientists in deciding what to teach and in the production of teaching
materials. At that time some scientists banded together to write new
textbooks and produce new teaching materials for schools. These projects
stimulated a wave of course content improvement and curriculum reform in
science which had global repercussions and is documented in the Unesco
publication _Innovation in science education - world-wide (1976)_.
It is well known that the vigorous effort in the U.S.A. in science
teaching improvement in the '60s, still remembered through acronyms like
PSSC, SMSG, CHEMS, CBAP and BSCS, was motivated ut least in part by the
launching of Sputnik. I will digress here briefly to mention three new
activities presently being carried out there in response to the new wave
of concern for the need to improve science teaching.
One is the effort of the National Science Teachers Association
(NSTA) which has set up a task force to consider _Essential Changes in
Secondary School Sciences: Scope, Sequence and Coordination_. Its
principal aim is to increase the number of young people who study science
and to spread the instruction out over a longer interval of time. lt
takes note of the fact that in many European countries, both east and
west, science is taught over a period of many years whereas the tendency
in the United States has been to concentrate it into one year.
Another is _Project 2061 - Education for a Changing Future_ of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). (The number
2061 refers to the year in which Halley's comet will return). It is
designed to engage the scientific community in working with educators to
improve science education. Their document, _Science for All Americans_,
will have inputs from several hundred scientists and educators.
A new organization called the National Science Resources Center
(NSRC) has been set up under the auspices of the Smithsonian institution
and the National Academy of Sciences and has obtained financial support
from industrial foundations. It is focusing special attention on the
needs of urban school systems and has published a well documented
reference book called _Science for Children - Resources, for Teachers_.
These three groups collaborate with one another when their areas of
interest coincide. Of these only the NSRC has given noticeable
consideration to environmental matters.
Many organizations are devoted to the teaching of a single basic
science, but I will mention only the one with which I am we acquainted -
the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) - because it sponsored
a workshop on _Physics and Ecology_. This took place in Monterrey,
Mexico, as part of the Inter-American Conference on Physics Education held

11

in Oaxtepec in 1987. Although the follow-up on physics and ecology has
been minimal, interest in the topic was high at the Conference suggesting
that further activity along these lines would be welcome in the AAPT and
possibly in similar organizations devoted to other sciences.
The organizations named can suggest what should be taught but the
actual decisions on what to teach to young people are often made by
national or state authorities. They have special boards responsible for
generating syllabi and curricula with greater or less liberty given to the
teachers to follow them, sometimes simply as guidelines. Ideally these
authorities would include people who are following closely the work of the
organizations named above and the literature of research in science and
education.
The ordinary teacher, however, is often guided by the textbooks
available, which, in turn, were written to conform to the state
guidelines. The textbook writer therefore plays an important role. The
best ones are, I imagine, those who have a strong scientific background or
at least have degrees in science education.
We now seem ready for a new round of innovation. This time the
stimulus would not be the apparent need to _compete_ with a state which
has launched a new era of space exploration but a recognition that all
countries have to_ cooperate_ in stopping an ecological devastation which
knows no political or geographic boundaries. We need to collaborate to
mend the Earth. If the ecological message is to come across as we teach
science all the organizations mentioned above as well as all others
involved in curriculum reform will have to give environmental improvement
a high priority.


NOTES
~~~~~
Anglemyer, M.: Seagraves, E.R. (eds.). _The natural environment: an
annotated bibliography on attitudes and values_. Washington, D.C.,
Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984. 268 p.
Baez, A.V. _Innovation in science education - world-wide_. Paris.
Unesco, 1976. 249 p.
Baez, A.V. Curiosity, creativity, competence and compassion -
guidelines for science education in the year 2000. In: C.P. McFadden
(ed.) _World trends in science education_. Halifax, Atlantic Institute of
Education, 1980, 303 p.
Baez, A.V.; Knamiller, G.W.; Smyth, J.C. (eds). _The environment
in science and technology education_. Oxford. Published for the ICSU
Press by Pergamon Press, 1987. xvi + 430 p. Science md Technology
Education Vol. 8.
Borelli, Peter. Epiphany: Religion, Ethics, and the Environment.
_The Amicus Journal_, Vol. 7, No. 3. Winter 1986, p. 34-41.
Brown, Lester R. et al. (eds.) _State of the world_ 1989. New
York, W.W. Norton md Company 1989. xvi + 256 p. A Worldwatch Institute
Report.
Buchsbaum, Ralph; Buchsbaum, Mildred. _Basic ecology_.
Pittsburgh., The Boxwood Press, 1957. ix + 195 p.
Bybee, Rodger W. Science Education and the Emerging Ecological
Society. Science Education, Vol. 63, January 1979, p. 95 - 109.
Croner, S. 1984. See World Conservation Strategy.
Eckholm, Erik P. _Down to earth_. New York, W.W. Norton and
Company, 1982. xv + 238 p.
Education and the spirit of science. Educational Policies
Commission of the National Education Association, Washington, D.C., 1967.
Hardin, Garrett. _Biology - its human implications_. San
Francisco, W.H. Freeman and Company, 1956. ix + 700p. + Bibography and
Index
G.B. Harrison. The role of technology in science education. In:

12

Atlantic Institute of Education, _World trends in science education_, p.
18-26. Halifax, 1980. 304 p.
Kirwan, D.F. _Energy resources in science education_. Oxford.
Published for the ICSU Press by Pergamon Press, 1987. xvi +211 p. Science
and Technology and Future Human Needs, Vol. 7
Kirkpatrick, P. 1986. Private communication.
Lovelock, J.E. _Gaia: a new look at life on earth_. New York,
Oxford University Press, 1979. xi + 157 p.
Malone, T.F.: Roederer, J.G. (eds.) _Global Change_ Paris, The ICSU
Press, 1984. xxvii + 357 p.
Miller, G. Tyler, Jr. _Living in the environment_. Fourth edition.
Belmont, California. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1985. xv + 460 p. +
Enrichment studies 88 p. + Appendices 55 p.
Myers, Norman. (ed.) _Gaia: an atlas of planet management_. Garden
City, N.Y., Anchor Press, Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1984. 272 p.
Rao, A.N. _Food, agriculture and education_ (ed.) Oxford. Published
for the ICSU Press by Pergamon Press. 1987. ix + 237 p. Science and
Technology Education and Future Human Needs, Vol. 6
Rifkin, Jeremy, with Howard, Ted. _Entropy: A new world view_.
New York. Bantam Books, 1981. 270 p. + Notes, Bibliography and Index.
Shrader-Frecehette, K.S. _Environmental ethics_. Pacific Grove,
Calif, The Boxwood Press, 1981 xiv + 347 p. 2 index
World Commission On Environment And Development. _Our common
future_. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1987. xv + 383 p.
_World Conservation Strategy_. Prepared by the International Union
for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) with the advice,
cooperation and financial assistance of UNEP and WWF and in collaboration
with FAO and Unesco (Gland, Switerland, 1980).

The following IUCN publications are based upon the Strategy:
Croner, S. _An Introduction to the World Conservation Strategy_,
1984. A photographically illustrated summary of the Strategy useful for
decision makers in government and industry and for the general public.
_Manual for Youth Environmental Projects - World Conservation
Strategy_, based upon No.1 in IUCN's Education, Training and Awareness
Series: A _Programme for Youth_.


Albert V. Baez is a physicist and Past Chairman of the Education
Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and
Natural Resources and former Director of the Division of Science Teaching
at Unesco, Paris. At present he is President of Vivamos Mejor/USA, an
organization that sponsors educational and humanitarian projects for
child-care and community development in Latin America.


Originally posted in 1998 at the Website: http://library.fortlewis.edu/~instruct/glosas/GN/ by Tina Evans Greenwood, Library Instruction Coordinator, Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado 81301, e-mail: greenwood_t@fortlewis.edu. By her permission the whole Website has been archived here at the University of Tennessee server directory of GLOSAS Chair Dr. Takeshi Utsumi from July 10, 2000 by Steve McCarty in Japan.