Thursday, September 6, 2007


Message no. 496[Branch from no. 492] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Sunday, February 25, 2007 1:23pm Subject: Re: Pat Friedrichs Relational Summary Chapter 13

Hi Pat, Nice job of blending and linking chapter 4 and chapter 13 together -- you really stitched those parts of our text together well! My wife and I were moved by Britteny's story and website. We recently lost a young family member who was an ardent environmentalist who loved hiking and was studying environmental science in the tranquil town of Burlington Vermont. Sadly and ironically she was raped and murdered in this seeming peaceful small town environment, walking home one night from school along the street; her body was actually dumped in the forest she loved by the madman who killed her (though he would never know that -- he dumped her body there so nobody would find it). We know who the killer was because security cameras took a picture of him accosting her on the street. After this, for the first time, I began to think it is better to have security cameras everywhere -- even in the forests, even if it means more surveillance. My family, like that of Britteny, is trying to raise funds to raise awareness and to fulfill Michelle's dreams of creating safe healthy environments. You can see the website here:

The big question we have posed to the foundation, as members of the board of directors, is "Are we trying to 'save the environment' or trying to create and/or preserve SAFE ENVIRONMENTS? My brand of environmentalism is about maintaining and fostering safe environments. I value many wilderness areas because I believe the infinite wisdom of God in creating the evolution of intricate ecosystem processes has led to stable and benign environments that are healthy and safe for us and other living creatures.

You may have read about the "GAIA Hypothesis" in your text book -- the idea that the earth is a self-regulating living system. The complexities of co-evolution are astounding, and I think we interfere with and mess with those processes at our peril!

So my motto is not "we need to save the world" but "we need to keep the world safe". Think about about it -- the earth is the ONLY PLANET in our vast solar system capable of supporting complex life forms (yeah, there may be some bacteria in the frigid soils of Mars or the moons of Saturn or Jupiter -- though even that is doubtful -- but to sustain large life forms like us we would have to look for planets with an optimal temperature and chemistry, and we can't find any at all within our galactic neighborhood. So the earth real is the only safe place, and we should keep it safe.

I thus propose we change the slogan SAVE THE EARTH to SAFE: THE EARTH. KEEP IT THAT WAY.

Michelle believed in this too, and the tragedy of her death, like that of Britteny, is that we are not acting in ways that keep the environment safe for living beings. That, I believe, should be our common cause.

Thanks for sharing that.

P.S. -- I also worked in a call center, when I first moved to California in 1989. It was, as you describe, hell. To keep from being understimulated, I would change my accent and voice every call. They only gave us 2 ten minute breaks all day and 20 rushed minutes for lunch. It was terrible. Then I went into teaching, as you did, and was able to create my own classroom environments, filled with plants, like a jungle, and tanks filled with animals, and lots of experimental apparatus and video cameras and computers. The students and I pretended we were in a Biosphere called the Starshaw that travelled through space, and that we were self sufficient. It was fun!

We modelled our classroom after the Biosphere II experiment in Arizona

The Biospherians tried to create a SAFE ENVIRONMENT for life here on earth that could be replicated in a hostile environment like that of the moon or mars or, God forbid, used if we have a nuclear or chemical or biological holocaust. As a teacher for NASA I had a chance to go inside and meet the biospherians before they sealed the experimental facility. It was fantastic, though they were unable to keep it safe and healthy for longer than two years because of problems with oxygen depletion and with pollination and insect population problems. Still it was a start at understanding how to make a safe environment sustainable.

More on this topic to come!

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