25 June 2010

Joe Conason: Save the Trees, Save the Planet - Truthdig

This would seem a no-brainer, wouldn't you think...? (operative word in the aforementioned: think.)


DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania—What would the wealthy nations of the West (and their rising rivals in the East) do if they actually wanted to prevent catastrophic warming? Here in Africa, the obvious answer is that they would find the ways and means to discourage deforestation—the ruinous practice of clear-cutting for timber, charcoal and arable land that accounts for at least 20 percent of the atmospheric carbon burden. Save the trees, and you might just save the planet.

In theory, this ought to be a simple enough task to accomplish, with sufficient motivation and money. But in practice, the incentives created by Western policy are so perverse, according to Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, that they reward clear-cutting not once but twice over. So he told Bill Clinton, who is visiting Africa this week to oversee the Clinton Foundation’s work on health care and renewable energy.

As Kikwete explained the problem, it has become possible to open forests to loggers for profit and then receive carbon-credit subsidies as a reward for replanting the raped forest. Stupid is too kind a word for this.

The Tanzanian leader expressed frustration, too, with the imperial style that persists in Western efforts to preserve forestland. The agencies that certify projects for carbon credit are overwhelmingly foreign, with personnel parachuted in to perform inspections. While it is essential to verify every carbon credit, the parachute inspection is not, as they say, a sustainable model.

Joe Conason: Save the Trees, Save the Planet - Truthdig

Truthdig - The Questions Education Reformers Aren’t Asking

This is an excellent article, and it'd be great to have a real dialogue/conversation about Education K-12 and see What Is
And What We the People can Imagine and Co-Create.
Peace.  Here's a snippet:
...I’m troubled by two more issues related to the magic-bullet discourse here. First, many who champion TFA seem to affirm an idiosyncratic model of professional development: that these young people’s elite undergraduate educations and their energy trump extended training and experience. There is no other kind of work, from styling hair to surgery to the pro football defensive backfield, where experience is so discounted. No TFA booster, I’d wager, would choose a med student fresh out of a cardiology rotation over a cardiologist who had been in practice for 15 years.
I also want to consider the assumptions about knowledge and teaching here—or more precisely the use of the status of one’s undergraduate institution as a proxy for being able to teach what one knows. Knowing history or chemistry or literature is essential to teach these subjects, but—again this is common sense—knowing something does not mean you are able to teach it, as countless undergraduates who have sat through bad lectures can verify.
Let’s consider this elite-school proxy for pedagogical expertise from one more perspective. I went through two books that profile first-rate teaching: my “Possible Lives” and Karin Chenoweth’s new “How It’s Being Done.” I also looked at the Council of Chief State School Officers’ National Teacher of the Year program. Only a handful of these top-flight teachers got their bachelor’s degrees from institutions typically defined as elite. A number hail from state universities. And a considerable number come from small local colleges with teacher education programs. Expertise in teaching is more than a function of one’s undergraduate pedigree.
What miracle talk and magic-bullet solutions share is the reduction of complexity, of the many levels of hard, creative work necessary to make schooling successful in the United States....