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Opinion: A million species — count ’em and see

Maybe you read or heard the story recently about how, before too long, unless we do something about it, more than a million species will disappear from the earth. Environmentalists immediately started wringing their hands about this possibility, and giving interviews about how climate change due to human activity is the cause.

A million does seem like a lot of species, but maybe it isn’t too much when you compare that number to the number of species that live on our planet, which is 1 trillion.

Most of these 1 trillion are too small to see. So it makes me wonder whether these counts of species destruction are accurate.

And I also wonder whether human activity is all that responsible for any disappearing that may be going on.

Let’s say that the most dangerous human activity, as far as species disappearance is concerned, is putting automobile exhaust into the atmosphere.

If that is the case, it would seem to me that the most dangerous places to be are the Bay Area and Los Angeles. They have millions of cars in those places, and when they run those car air conditioners in the hot weather, they put out just that much more exhaust. — that is, the amount it takes to turn the generator that turns the air-conditioning motor.

Cows also are being blamed, since they are notorious producers of methane, which contributes to global warming. The people over on the coast would like us to stop drinking milk, to cut down on methane from cows that produce it.

Apparently a lot of methane comes from grape vineyards, too, (although I don’t believe that; wine doesn’t smell anything like what cows leave behind. And it tastes a lot better).

• • •.

This week has been Teachers Appreciation Week. I know a lot of people who are teachers, and let me say they all have earned some appreciation.

Mary Gaumnitz, who is a teacher in Merced as well as a resident of Chowchilla (and a former mayor of that distinguished city) passes along that a certain first-grade teacher every September coordinates the 911 remembrance and Patriots Day. “First and second grade classes practice memorizing parts of speeches, and famous dates in history as well as songs. It’s truly amazing. You must attend this September. The work that the teachers and students put into it is truly amazing.”

In our town, we also have a teacher who dabbles in politics as well as working full time in education. Her name is Cece Gallegos, and she is a member of the Madera City Council and chair of the Madera Housing Authority.

Retired teacher Sue Thornton is president of the Madera noon Rotary Club.

Another politically inclined former teacher, who no longer is with us, was a longtime City Council member and Madera mayor. The John W. Wells Youth Center was named after him.

Another well known and accomplished teacher is Bill Coate. He writes about education for The Madera Tribune, and also about history, mainly the history of where we live. Besides being a nationally recognized teacher, he is a professor of history, and for many years was a television personality with his own show on KMPH-TV. Then there is Moira Farrelly, a retired teacher who still teaches, substituting in dozens of classes, giving regular teachers a little time off. And when she’s not doing that, she is president of the Friends of the Madera County Library.

And last, but certainly not least, is a teacher in memoriam, who had proclaimed himself Madera’s poet laureate, and whose poems often found their way into these pages. Here is one about teaching:

To take one mind and give it a lift;

That is a teacher’s greatest gift.

Take one heart and make it soar

A student will tell you, you cannot do more.

This poet’s name was Brian Donald O’Donovan;

May his tribe increase.

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