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How did we get here? (Upper primary 5 to 6)

Staff  |  02 August 2012

Let’s take a trip back in time to discover, how humans have looked after and damaged our planet. Maybe we can find some ways to turn back the clock and protect our home?

Earth is born
4.54 Billion BC

Our planet is one of a kind. It is not just ours. We share the planet and we have to care for it.

The creation story in the Bible tells us how God creates the earth. He makes the plants, animals, rocks, oceans, sky and humans.

Science tells us it took millions and millions of years for the earth to become what it is today. Early human fossils date back to a few million years ago.

Human progress
BC - 1200 AD

The building of cities changes nature. Large cities often pollute the water and air. In ancient Rome, often the air is thick and musty.

In ancient Greece, they cut down lots of trees for timber. This becomes a problem. But the Greeks are clever. They find a way to protect their forest. They heat their homes with the warmth of the sun (solar heating) rather than by burning wood. This stops sacred forests from being cut down.

An interest in health
1200 - 1750

An illness sweeps through Europe, known as the Black Plague. Many people die. Scientists and doctors begin to study what causes illnesses. They learn that having clean water and tidy city streets can help.

During this time, destroying forests gets worse. To protect forests, many cities turn to coal for fuel rather than lumber.

A time of reason
1750 - 1830

The Era of Enlightenment is a time of learning. Humans learn more about health, nature and reason. There are also lots of new inventions. In 1792, William Murdoch invents gas lighting. With new technology comes new and more pollution.

A work boom
1830 - 1890

The Industrial Revolution is a time of quick progress. Many people move to cities for work. With so many factories, the air becomes more polluted.

Cities grow quickly. People begin to realise they have to protect nature.

Protecting nature
1890 - 1920

During this period, lots of people work together to protect nature. US President Teddy Roosevelt is one. He and others were leaders in protecting areas of natural beauty.

Pollution awareness grows
1920 - 1940

People come together to protect coasts, rivers and streams from pollution. Laws to stop pollution pass. But, there is also a new polluter. During this time, cars become popular. All over the world, people use leaded gasoline to fuel their cars.

A first for air pollution
1940 - 1970

A big air pollution meeting is held in 1955. Scientist come from all over the world to learn and share their research. It is the first time this topic has been discussed at this kind of meeting.

In the 1960s, scientist begin to research lead gasoline. They learn leaded gasoline is poisonous and dangerous. It’s bad for humans, animals and nature. This makes many people angry.

Scientist also start to learn about carbon dioxide. They find that too much of it in the air is bad for the planet.

Celebrating the Earth
1970 - 1980

Earth Day was created on 22 April 1970. It is still celebrated today. Also in the 1970's, new technology helped protect our water and air.

It was during this decade we learned our oil would run out.

The effects of pollution
1980 - 1990

In this decade, scientist learn pollution can cause harm to large areas. The news shows people harmed from polluted water and air. Some people even die.

Scientist begin to collect data on climate change.
Also in this period, Clean Up Australia Day was created in 1989.

Australia goes back and forth
1990 - 2014

During the last 15 years, most scientist agree climate change is real. Recycling, saving energy and water and protecting nature are talked about a lot. However Australia and other countries still pollute the earth.

In 2012, Julia Gillard passes the Carbon Tax in Australia. Other countries pass laws to stop pollution.

But, in 2014 the Australian senate cuts the Carbon Tax. They say it hurts business.

A Green Pope

Pope Francis releases a letter to Catholics and the world. He asks for everyone to care for God's creation. Pope Francis says this is our duty. We have to protect nature for the future.

The future

Anything could happen. It’s up to us.

Questions and activity for 'How did we get here?' (Upper primary: year 5 to 6)

1. Review this timeline. Where do you see humans go wrong in protecting nature? What choices do humans make that hurt nature?
2. Now, look at what humans have done right. Where do you see in history, people made the choice to protect the environment?
3. If you could change any polluting event in history on this timeline, what would it be? What would you have happen to protect the environment?


A futuristic timeline Break up into groups of three and four. In your groups create a timeline for the next 100 hundred years. What do humans do to protect the environment? Do people change their ways? What inventions are created to help clean water and the air? What technology is developed to create clean energy? Share your timeline with your class.


Topic tags: environmentalissues, scienceandreligion

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