JULY & AUGUST
The entire planet is heating up right now. Global warming is playing havoc with weather patterns, which in turn affects all plant and animal life. Our emotions are fired up and disagreements are reaching a boiling point, as is evidenced by the ever-increasing and escalating geo-religious-political-economic conflicts around the globe.
Now is the time to turn our attention to positive solutions and focus our thoughts and actions creating peace. Peace of Mind. Peace of Heart. Peace on Earth. There is a chance for peace.
By Brenda Peterson
With the publication of Silent Spring in 1962, Rachel Louise Carson, biologist and nature and science writer, set off a nationally publicized struggle between the proponents and opponents of the widespread use of poisonous chemicals to kill insects — which she predicted would have harmful effects on air, earth and water. Her vociferous defense of the natural world led to a world wide environmental movement.
Rachel Carson was born May 27, 1907, on a small family farm near Springdale, Pennsylvania. She credited her love of nature to her mother, who once wrote in The Saturday Review of Literature, that she had taught her daughter “as a tiny child joy in the out-of-doors and the lore of birds, insects, and residents of streams and ponds.”
As a child, she exhibited an exceptional talent for writing. She began writing stories — often involving animals — at age eight, and had her first story published when she was eleven.
She enrolled in the Pennsylvania College for Women at Pittsburgh with the intention of making a career of writing. First she specialized in English composition. Later biology fascinated her and she switched to that field, going on to graduate work at Johns Hopkins University.
She then taught for seven consecutive sessions at the Johns Hopkins Summer School. In 1931 she became a member of the zoology staff of the University of Maryland, where she remained for five years.
Meanwhile, a childhood curiosity about the sea stayed with her. She absorbed all that she could read about the biology of the sea and she undertook post-graduate work at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
In 1936 she was offered a position as aquatic biologist with the Bureau of Fisheries in Washington. She continued with the bureau and its successor, the Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1937, an article, “Undersea,” in the Atlantic led to her first book, Under the Sea Wind, published in 1941. This was followed by her appointment as editor-in-chief of the Fish and Wildlife Service, blending her two specialties of biology and writing.
The Sea Around Us, published in 1951, made her world famous, and she received numerous honors. They included the Gold Medal of the New York Zoological Society, the John Burroughs Medal, the Gold Medal of the Geographical Society of Philadelphia and the National Book Award.
Meanwhile, in 1952, she resigned from her government post to continue her writing. Rachel was no armchair naturalist. To gain experience the hard way, she once sailed in a fishing trawler to the rugged Georges Banks off the Massachusetts coast. Her third book, The Edge of the Sea was published in 1955. The sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life, from the shores to the surface to the deep sea.
In the late 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation and the environmental problems caused by synthetic pesticides. “Chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world — the very nature of life,” she wrote.
The sprays, dusts and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests and homes — non-selective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the good and the bad, to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams — to coat the leaves with a deadly film and to linger on in soil — all this, though the intended target may be only a few weeds or insects.
Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life? They should not be called ‘insecticides’ but ‘biocides’.
Silent Spring, her book on this topic brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented portion of the American public. Silent Spring spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy — leading to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides — and the grassroots environmental movement the book inspired led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency
On April 3, 1963, the Columbia Broadcasting System’s television series “C.B.S. Reports” presented the program “The Silent Spring of Rachel Carson.” In it, Queen Carson said:
It is the public that is being asked to assume the risks that the insect controllers calculate. The public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present road, and it can do so only when in full possession of the facts.
We still talk in terms of conquest. We still haven’t become mature enough to think of ourselves as only a tiny part of a vast and incredible universe. Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have now acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature.
But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself. The rains have become an instrument to bring down from the atmosphere the deadly products of atomic explosions. Water, which is probably our most important natural resource, is now used and re-used with incredible recklessness.
Now, I truly believe, that we in this generation, must come to terms with nature, and I think we’re challenged as mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves.
Her books won her huge fame (or notoriety, depending on what side of the argument one was on) as well as significant monetary reward, which she used to continue to research and write. Queen Rachel died from complications of breast cancer on April 14, 1964, at the age of 56. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.
Like water, be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth, and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world.
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.