Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day Week: Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" First to Suggest Human Activity Detrimental to Earth

Earth from Space with Stars

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey Flickr Page:

The old button from the Environmental Club days which I just happened to find on Earth Day! It is a little beat up (particularly the ends of the ribbon), but no worse for the wear, I think. And it is one of the few items that I have left from those days, so it carries a lot of great memories for me! Nothing Changes Until You Do!

Here is a picture of a very similar logo, with the same message, that was on the t-shirt that I purchased from the BCC Environmental Club and, if memory serves me correctly, may even have helped to make. There were a few projects like that which club members, myself included, were regularly involved with. It has been so long, however, that I no longer recall specifically if I actually helped to make these or not, although I do believe so, since I remember seeing the process of the t-shirts being dyed. In any case, I loved this t-shirt, and have kept it ever since, even if I do not regularly wear it. Since it was part of my experience with the BCC Environmental Club days, as well as more generally having an environmental theme, it seemed appropriate to share it here. 

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."

~Mahatma Gandhi

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
~John F. Kennedy  

A lot of arguments could be made about where the environmental movement really began. I heard many people say Henry David Thoreau started it with his writings, and particularly with his landmark book, Walden. I think an argument could certainly be made for the Native Americans, who had a sustainable relationship with the Earth, and urged the encroaching white culture to find a more sensible and balanced approach in terms of their use of the land. Some might say that it started with Senator Gaylord Nelson, and his creation of Earth Day.

But Daniel Quinn argues that the new conscience regarding the problems that human activity has created on the planet really began in the early 1960's, with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. This was the first time that someone actually revealed that our activities with chemicals being buried in the ground and the pollution that we were causing everywhere actually was effectively poisoning the planet, and calling it what it really was: evil.

Yes, evil. That is not too strong of a word to use in such a case. If anything, it does not go far enough, although some will surely dismiss it automatically. Funny, how the main incentive for denying it almost always tends to be the profit motive.

In any case, that was what awoke a previously sleeping world to the dangers of our activity, and to the knowledge that there were indeed limits to what we could do to this world, before it began to have a serious effect on life here.

"The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible. In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world — the very nature of its life." -- From Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring

Clip: The Bravery of Rachel Carson May 15, 2014 by Karin Kamp:

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