Environmental Hysteria Special on CNN Next Week: ‘Planet in Peril’

It seems these days you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a major media special presaging imminent planetary doom at the hands of that awful species homo sapiens.

Next on the docket leading you to commit seppuku is CNN's four-hour special appropriately named "Planet in Peril."

Makes you want to hide in your cellar with a few Friedrich Nietzsche books and a pint of hemlock, doesn't it?

CNN.com proudly described the special's contents (preview videos available here and here for those looking to ruin their weekends):

CNN takes viewers around the world in a two-part, four-hour documentary that examines our changing planet. This worldwide investigation, shot in high definition, looks at four key issues: climate change, vanishing habitats, disappearing species and human population growth.

To tell this story, Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin traveled to some of the most remote and remarkable places on Earth. From exposing illegal wildlife trading undercover in Southeast Asia to seeing first-hand the devastating effects of deforestation in Brazil, they have gathered evidence on the unsettling changes taking place all around us.

As if four hours of hysteria wasn't enough, viewers and teachers can also scare the heck out of children with student aids like this one concerning climate change:

(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about climate change and the role that greenhouse gases are thought to play in global warming.

Refer students to the Web sites listed, including the CNN Student News video on global warming, to learn about how the global climate is changing, the possible factors responsible for these changes, including greenhouse gases, and the potential problems associated with these changes. Have students work individually or in groups to create graphic organizers that illustrate the potential social, political, economic, legal, environmental and personal effects of climate change.

As students present their findings, ask: What roles might individuals, businesses and international, national, state and local governments play in addressing greenhouse gas emissions? Organize students into small groups, and direct each group to assume the role of one of the following:

  1. International community
  2. U.S. Congress
  3. Bush administration
  4. Representatives from your state
  5. Local city and community representatives
  6. Individual energy consumers
  7. Representatives from the business community, such as energy companies, waste management companies or car manufacturers.

Refer students to the suggested Web sites above and other resources to research the perspectives of their assigned groups on the issues surrounding the climate change debate. Students should also identify what measures, if any, their assigned groups are taking to address greenhouse gas emissions. Then, have groups share their perspectives and plans in a mock climate change summit. Allow each group 3-5 minutes to present its position on the following question:

Should individuals, industries and governments be legally mandated to minimize greenhouse gas emissions? If so, to what extent? If not, why not?

As groups formulate answers to this question, challenge them to consider the economic, social or political implications of their decisions. After each group has presented its arguments, provide time for the class to debate the issues surrounding climate change. Wrap up the activity by discussing the opportunities and challenges facing different groups as they try to address the potential effects of greenhouse emissions.

How delightful. Where's a British High Court judge that demands a little balance in presentations to students when you need him?

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