Last night the Pitt Honors College sponsored a lecture by Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford professor of conservation studies, focusing on his book about Human Evolution and the Environment. There appeared to be about 1ooo people who came out on this cold Monday evening to hear his lecture.
Clearly there is enormous interest in Pittsburgh in environmental issues, and based on Professor Ehrlich's presentation this interest is well-founded. He spoke for example about how we are facing greater environmental threats than global warming, and that when it comes to global warming there are greater dangers than rising sea levels. His closing message was that as great as the threats are there is hope that we can address these dangers, but to have even a chance of doing so we need environmental education on a vastly greater scale than is now in place.
Why then has there been no consideration of an environmental high school magnet? Yes the sci tech school will offer environmental studies as one of 4 majors, but this is a very small school (even if all 100 of each class were to stay with the program and graduate and one of 4 choose the environmental major, that would be only 25 graduating seniors a year). The school is also perceived as targeting lower achieving students, while there are students at every level passionate about this topic. If the people of Pittsburgh were consulted about a magnet or "theme" they would like to see, environmental studies (as a springboard for the study of math, science, literature, art, etc) would most likely be at or near the top of the list (witness the popularity of the environmental charter elementary school).