Lesson 1.1 Learning from the Past, Defining our Future



This lesson investigates environmental degradation and the decline of ancient societies - Vikings in Greenland, the Easter Islanders, and the Anasazi of south western North America. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to: * Identify the connections between human-caused changes in the environment, climatic changes, and the decline of ancient civilizations. * Understand that, to survive over time, societies must live in harmony with the natural environment. * Understand that human-caused changes in the environment, over time, could lead to climate change, with potentially disastrous consequences in the future, if we do not learn from mistakes of the past. Assignment 1 1. In groups, investigate one of the following three ancient civilizations: the Vikings, the East Islanders, or the Anasazi. Read the history of the ancient society that you have been assigned to study, in the handout, Societies Past. 2. Discuss with your group to come up with an explanation for what may have happened to the society in question. Try to predict the fate of the society by picking up on clues contained in the handout text. Here are some guiding questions: a. Does the way of life of the society in question depend on particular climatic conditions? b. How does the society rely on certain natural and environmental resources? c. How might the use of natural resources impact the environment? d. How would changes in the environment affect the way of life? 3. Share your explanations with the class. Assignment 2 4. After you have presented your explanations for the decline of the society in question, your teacher will provide you with the handout, Societies Collapsed. Review the handout and make note of how the society might have avoided collapse. 5. Work with your group to answer the following questions: a. What patterns do you see re-occurring in these case studies? b. Can you identify any mistakes that we are re-making now? c. Do you think we are at risk of societal collapse today? Discussion Question Reflect on the following quote: “Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.” ~ Edmund Burke Do you think knowing about our history can help us to avoid ecological collapse in the future? Are we repeating the mistakes of past societies? Try to use examples from the societies you have already studied to strengthen your points. Contribute your thoughts to the class discussions.

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