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Evolution holds the Key

Volume 5 Number 2 - October 2008

Tracy Greenfield

French title: L’évolution détient la clé

Spanish title: La evolución tiene la clave


Thousands of schools around the world are gripped by Rockford’s Rock Opera, a unique story with an important environmental message. This is an engaging, original view of the current tragedy of mass species extinction. Through the use of music, a narrated story and animated videos, Rockford’s Rock Opera highlights the crucial discoveries and inventions made possible as a result of the study of plants and animals, evolved to meet their own challenges of existence. It demonstrates how the secrets locked up in at-risk species could hold the solutions to the world’s future needs.

Evolution and the secrets of life

No one knows how many plant species we have on our planet, but they are the ultimate source of medicines for 75% of the world’s population. A quarter of all modern drugs – including Aspirin, morphine, antibiotics, antiseptics and anesthetics – are either derived from or based on plant compounds. And the influence of plants goes further than their study in medicine. For example, the Cocklebur seed (Xanthium strumarium L.) was the inspiration for the creation of Velcro fastenings and many tropical plants are now showing scientists how to create self-cleaning paints and surfaces, reducing our need for harmful soaps and detergents.

In solving the challenges of existence, evolution has led plants (and animals) to create innovative design solutions – the true ‘secrets of life’ that now provide the bedrock of human scientific ‘discovery’. Losing plants and animals to the current crisis of mass extinction is a tragedy and without doubt we are throwing away important answers –naturally evolved solutions that could hold the key to the earth’s future challenges. By saving species, we could actually be saving ourselves. To those of us who understand the crucial role of the natural world this may seem utterly obvious, but to the wider population, it’s an original message that we are using to engage minds across the world.

An ecological multi-media musical story

Rockford’s Rock Opera is a unique ecological musical story with this important environmental message at its heart. Think of a cross between ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the Worlds’, or perhaps, ‘Jurassic Park’ crossed with ‘The Jungle Book’ and a bit of ‘The Butterfly Ball’! Rockford’s Rock Opera deals with extinction, evolution, the secrets of life and the importance of eco-systems. It engages minds, asks questions and addresses the wonder of life in an entirely original way.

This multi-media story (a great deal of which is free to stream or download from the web) is for all ages with a free audio book, characters, songs, sound effects, animated videos and more. The site also includes an extensive selection of ecological lesson plans and teaching resources that can be downloaded free to use in the classroom. The Rockford’s Rock Opera website also contains a fascinating 'Secrets of Life' directory, listing just some of the amazing breakthroughs that have happened as a result of the study of plants and animals.

Reaching the World

Although individual stories of extinction are very sad, Rockford's Rock Opera is a positive story of wonder, hope and of belief that we can learn from the mistakes of our past and make things better. This is the message that’s now spreading across the world, from the Rockford’s Rock Opera website and in live performances, education materials and lots more. We hope it will inspire all people to view life, in all its evolved forms, not just as a work of ‘nature’, but also as a gift for us to treasure, to protect and to learn from.

Take a look at our video, ‘Distant Generation’:

Or discover the whole story at:

Rockford’s Rock Opera was created by award winning creative team, Sweetapple (, and features well-known BBC writer, Steve Punt. It is an entirely self-funded, self-produced project created to make a positive impact.


Des milliers d’écoliers à travers le monde se sont passionnés pour l’Opéra rock de Rockford, une histoire sans égal transmettant un important message pour l’environnement. Il s’agit d’une représentation intéressante et originale de la tragédie actuelle de l’extinction massive des espèces. Par le biais de la musique, d’une histoire retracée, de vidéos et de musique d’animation, l’Opéra rock de Rockford met en lumière les découvertes cruciales et les inventions réalisées grâce à l’étude des plantes et des animaux, qui ont évolué en relevant leurs propres défis de l’existence. Il démontre comment les secrets que recèlent les espèces menacées pourraient être sources de solutions aux futurs besoins planétaires.


Miles de escuelas alrededor del mundo estan emocionado por la

Rockford’s Rock Opera, una historia única con un mensaje importante. Esta es una historia unica con un mensaje ambiental importante. Esta es una forma atractiva y original de la tragedia actual de la extinction massiva de especies.

El uso de la música bien pensado, una historia narrada, videos animados y musica,

Rockford’s Rock Opera resalta los descubrimientos cruciales e invenciones que hicieron possible como un resultado del estudio de plantas y animales, evolucionó para alcanzar sus cambios propios retos de existencia. Ella demuestra como los secretos tan bien guardados en especies al riesgo de la extinctión, podrian contener las soluciones de las necesidades futuras del mundo

Tracy Greenfield
Popefield Farm
Hatfield Road
St Albans
Herts, AL4 0HW