Environment Forum

Will Zoo crunch bite U.S. science education?

President Barack Obama has pledged to “restore science to its rightful place” and educate a new generation of scientists able to transform America into an environmentally sustainable “green economy.”

But with endowments and private donations falling and public funds under pressure, the recession is making it harder for zoos and aquariums to keep inspiring kids in science.

My colleague Claudia Parsons has done a report on this issue which you can read here.

A new report by the National Academy of Sciences said informal learning — such as visits to zoos or other outdoor activities such as fishing or gardening — is a powerful tool in science education.

What do you think? Do zoos play a vital inspirational role for budding young scientists? And should they receive public funds at a time of crisis when needs are many and funds are few?

Will the world be a cleaner place by Monday?

A boy salvages plastic materials washed ashore by waves in Manila bay November 26, 2007. Typhoon Mitag swirled out to sea on Monday after killing 8 people, destroying homes and flooding rice paddies in the Philippines. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo (PHILIPPINES)Will the world be a slightly less messy place by Monday?

Organisers of an annual “Clean up the World” campaign say that up to 35 million volunteers in more than 110 countries will be cleaning up trash, planting trees, working out better ways of recycling and taking part in other ways to stop pollution.

 Of course it will take a lot more than just the Sept. 19-21 blitz but beaches from Vanuatu to Brazil, or cities from Buenos Aires to Sydney may benefit a bit.

And it illustrates a wider problem about the environment – nothing much happens unless a lot of people get involved in sorting out problems such as piles of stinking rubbish or global warming.