Rachel Carson’s Legacy


Allison Whipple Rockefeller on Women’s Environmental Leadership

Women have long played a pivotal role in environmental conservation in America, yet far too few women today hold top leadership positions in America’s environmental and conservation organizations. It’s especially disappointing when you consider that Rachel Carson is one of the three most important and influential figures in American conservation history, along with Sierra Club founder John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Carson’s death and an appropriate opportunity to recognize the remarkable legacy of this iconic environmentalist and bestselling author. It’s also a time to recall that her national leadership emerged during the 1950’s when American women were given little credence for their professional opinions — particularly about science.

Carson’s first book, The Sea Around Us, published in 1951, won the National Book Award, was on The New York Times Best Seller List for 86 weeks and has been translated into 28 languages. But it was Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring, published in 1962, that transformed the nation and the world.

Carson’s clear scientific data and steadfast voice greatly affected the American people and created a first-time dialogue about environmental concerns at office water-coolers and suburban kitchen tables. Her work even catalyzed an unprecedented Presidential Commission on the Environment established by John F. Kennedy. Americans, for the first time, were alerted to untold dangers of pesticides being used in the world around them, affecting water quality, air purity and food toxicity. Silent Spring stunned the American public with the prospect of serious long-term damage to human health and mobilized thousands to counteract these threats.

Read the rest of the article at Huffington Post

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