Sunday, January 22, 2017

'Treasures of the Earth' to replace 'The End of Suburbia' in my classes

I know I had promised an entry about the results of the People's Choice Awards for today's entertainment entry, but I woke up this morning and just didn't feel it.  Instead, I'm following up on these asides from 'Inconvenient Truth 2' being released next year.
I just finished showing my students "An Inconvenient Truth" last week.  It's a very good movie, and it's holding up better than "The End of Suburbia," which I've really had enough of for reasons beyond the age of the film.*
*I've become more and more disenchanted with Kunstler.  He's developed a terrible case of "Get off my lawn" over the past couple of years.  I'm less inclined to give his ideas a captive audience in my students.
While I was in Utah visiting my mother and middle sister at the same time President Obama declared Bears Ears National Monument, I watched NOVA's "Treasures of the Earth: Power" on PBS at my mom's house.  Here is the preview.

Drill underground to see the treasures that power our world—today and into the future.
As I watched, I decided this was the video to replace the doomers, including Kunstler.  It's up-to-date, it reinforces my lecture material, it has lots of interesting examples, it's shorter, and it's optimistic.  As I mentioned, ironically enough, in a comment to Kustler's entry Discovery a year ago, "the presentation they really enjoyed was about self-driving cars.  The feedback was that they'd had enough of doom and gloom and wanted something hopeful."  I'm going to give them what they want, which is also what I want.  That's a win-win for us, but a loss for Kunstler.  As I told my students last week, they will be the last ones I subject to Kunstler and the rest of the Prophets of Doom.*

The DVD that I'm ordering from PBS to show to my students beginning this summer has two more shows on it.  Follow over the jump for their previews.

Of the two other episodes, the one I'm more likely to also show to my students in class is "Treasures of the Earth: Metals."

What is it about the nature of metals that have made them a pillar of human civilization?
I'll probably write up a worksheet for this episode either at the end of the academic year or the calendar year and put it in the lab manual as an extra credit assignment.

Ironically but not surprisingly, the episode I expect my students would most like to see is the one that is coolest but not most economically essential is the one about gems.

What processes in the depths of the Earth forge beautiful and precious stones?
This one is probably more suited for my geology students than my environmental science students, while the other two videos will work equally well for both.  I'll create a worksheet for this video last, which means sometime next year, and include it in my geology notes as an extra credit assignment.  That should be fun.

*I'm not putting "The End of Suburbia" completely out to pasture.  I'll retain the worksheet as an extra credit assignment for my classes and will put the video on reserve in the library so that the students who want to watch it still can.  I just won't require them to view it any more.  In the meantime, my readers should expect to see no more guides to answers to "The End of Suburbia."  Worksheets from "Treasures of the Earth" series will replace them in the future.


  1. I'm curious if you've ever watched "Cowspiracy" and if so what you thought of it. You're a better judge than I could be. It's one of the movies that convinced me to adopt a vegan diet, tho.

    1. Nope, haven't watched it. Several of my students have and a few have even reviewed it for extra credit. As a result, it's on my list of films I list that my students can watch, even if I don't completely agree with them.