Romain and Christie were about my age, knew Nature as well as I, and were as passionate about protecting Life on Earth as I. Being with them supported one of my core beliefs: That the more one knows about Life on Earth, the more you care about it, and caring translates to sustainable behavior. Or:

environmental education -->
caring about Life on Earth -->
sustainable behavior

Our backpacking took place in California where this week the Legislature came up with a plan for keeping the state from bankruptcy. With its first priority being "no new taxes," the plan accomplishes its goal by cutting services. Education of all kinds suffers disproportionately.

I have visited countries where education was not adequately funded. There one sees the opposite of the above formula at work:

bad schools -->
disrespect for institutions -->
unsustainable behavior

By "unsustainable behavior" I mean such national calamities as civil wars and the collapse of infrastructure, as well as societal problems like high levels of alcoholism and drug use, family violence, and of course environmental destruction, which is the most serious and damning of all human behaviors.

History suggests that our society, after enjoying its period of greatness, now must withdraw into seedy, pathetic helplessness as other more vigorous peoples take our place. And just look at those diligent young Chinese and Indian students!

On the other hand, as the Sixth Miracle of Nature enables us humans to overcome our genetic programming, the same Miracle invites us to rationally reconstitute our society this way:

more education -->
greater caring at all levels -->
sustainable behavior

They say that as Calfornia goes, so goes the rest of the US. If that is true, only a miracle -- the Sixth Miracle of Nature -- can save us from an ignoble, self-inflicted future.