Great Falls National Park – Virginia – August 2015
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” – Rachel Carson
I’ve just finished reading a biography of Rachel Carson “On a Farther Shore” by William Soudor and I realized how much we need another Rachel Carson. She had a style of writing that translated technical scientific information into something that was accessible and enjoyable to non-scientific folks. She forwarded the notions of environmentalism, ecology, and the interrelationship of all things in nature. Before her, people thought of earth as dirt, she promoted the idea of “the earth” as an entire planet with an ecosystem of interdependent life forms.
In addition to her literary prowess she was a scientist, familiar with the scientific method and capable of processing vast amounts of information. She spent 15 years working as a writer for the federal government in the fish and wildlife service. Eventually becoming editor-in-chief of all publications for that division.
When her fourth book “Silent Spring” arrived people paid attention. Published in 1962, this book was instrumental in raising the public’s awareness of the dangers of pesticides, particularly DDT and it’s derivatives. And tangentially radioactive fallout from nuclear testing. The book ultimately led to creating an environment where restrictions on the use of DDT and the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency became possible.
Fortunately her publisher Houghton Mifflin was prepared for the backlash that would follow publication and backed their writer against industry and government criticism. Without this support the book may have failed.
Amazingly, she knew and was writing about global warming in the 1950’s. I’m sure given enough time she would have figured out what was causing it. Unfortunately she died much too young from cancer.
So where is the next Rachel Carson, who is the next publishing house willing to back that person and fight corporate and governmental issues?