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Sesame Street's 40th Season to Focus on Environment; Nature Worth Trillions Annually
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 09:00  |  Written by Justin Pot | Blog Entry

Sesame Street Birthday Cake photo byThe environment remained a prominent topic in the mainstream media this week; here's our regular look at how it was covered. The classic children's television show Sesame Street is using its 40th season to teach kids about ecology (but leaving out the scary parts such as deforestation and climate change). And the environment provides us with free services worth trillions of dollars annually, according to a recent UN report.

Teaching Kids to Love the Earth
Anyone who used Google last week saw how it recognized Sesame Street's 40th anniversary. And the first show of Sesame Street’s new season celebrated this television milestone with First Lady Michelle Obama teaching kids about planting seeds. This is appropriate given that the show's curriculum this year will focus on the importance of environmentalism.

Sesame Street famously operates on the basis of rotating curricula, teaching kids about a different subject every two years. Earlier this decade, for example, the show focused on health eating, which saw Cookie Monster scale back his cookie consumption in favor of fruits and eggplant, as reported on the Colbert Report.

Although the curriculum focuses on the environment this year, it is not without limits: big-picture problems such as climate change are considered too fightening to highlight on the show, according to National Geographic.

“Global warming and deforestation—those are really adult concepts, and it's just too scary for children,” said Rosemarie Truglio, Vice President of the Children's Television Workshop. “The place we're coming from is, 'Let's love and care for the Earth, because it's so beautiful, and we appreciate its awe and wonder, and we're going to respect it.'”

It's certainly a different approach than Disney, an outlet famous for its kid-friendly entertainment. Its Wall-E film from 2008 was set in a future Earth completely destroyed by humans lacking concern for the environment.

Report: Environment Worth Trillions Annually
Every year, the natural world provides services worth trillions of dollars to humanity. That's the message of a new United Nation Environment Program study that attempts to calculate the value—in dollars—mother nature provides to the global economy.

The study mostly focuses on free services; for example, mangroves in Vietnam save that country $7 million annually on dike maintenance. It is unique in that it provides economists with hard numbers on the value of natural elements. While the analysis might not represent True Cost Economics as espoused by Adbusters, it could well bring humanity closer to those ideals. Certainly, anything that teaches the Earth’s value is a good step.

Discussion of the report was limited in American publications and news broadcasts, though Newsweek provided a pretty good outline. Look for this one to come up more in the week to come, and we'll keep watching (with crossed fingers) for signs of True Cost Economics’ rise in the global consciousness.

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Eco Tip

Grow a garden or a fruit tree. A garden is fun, provides exercise, teaches kids about nature, reduces your carbon footprint (since your food need not be shipped to you), and controls what pesticides or chemicals do or do not go into the food you eat. Not to mention how delicious and nutritious fresh-picked fruits and vegetables are! More tips...

Eco Quote

We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do. - Barbara Ward, Only One Earth, 1972   More quotes...