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Introduction

In work, for certain themes, inspiration is a desirable element to sustain our contribution.

In order to work for a cause, it is inspirational to know those who worked for the cause.

 

Environment management is one such theme and in this area of work, one inspirational person is Rachel Carson. One reference to her name in a book kindled me to know about her and I found it such a rewarding experience and she remained my inspiration there after.

My intention in this blog is to guide the readers to relevant websites without trying to make my writing about her.

I have compiled them in certain order, consisting from media,Govt dept, wikipedia and by her biographer.

Visiting some of them and going through the writings would be time well invested for the theme and to become familiar with the personality of the remarkable person, Rachel Carson.

It may be tiring because of the length, but at the end, it may be worth it! In the sense, that you would come to know, Who was she?, What her fame is due to?, What was her background – birth and bringing up, education, work and writings, her disposition to environmental issues, her pursuit; What was the decisive moment?, How she pursued further?, Importantly, what opposition she faced?, What was the outcome? And finally, how she is remembered?

 

Please make it a leisurely trip and you can branch off as you wish at each of the websites too.

 

Firstly, about a recent event

 

On the 14th of November 2008 the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science christined their Chesaspeake Bay research vessel, ‘Rachel Carson’.

“That mission”, said Boesch, “would please Carson, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and outdoors writer for The Sun. She went on to write popular books such as The Sea Around Us and Silent Spring, a warning about the indiscriminate use of pesticides that was hailed by the U.S. State Department as “the book that changed the nation.”

 

“She really did most of her work and writing in Maryland. She graduated from Johns Hopkins and taught at the University of Maryland. She wrote about the bay before she wrote Silent Spring and the other books,” Boesch said. “She was for many scientists – including me – inspirational.”

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bay_environment/bal-md.carson14nov14,0,2574680.story

 

 

What are the other similar events?

1

Time 100 of the year 2000, included her under ‘scientists and thinkers’. Peter Mathiessen, writing about her has mentioned: “Before there was an environmental movement, there was one brave woman and her very brave book.”

http://www.time.com/time/time100/scientist/profile/carson.html

 

2

She is included in the Ecology Hall of Fame with the following citation:

“Rachel Carson made environmentalism respectable. Before Silent Spring, nearly all Americans believed that science was a force for good. Carson’s work exposed the dark side of science. It showed that DDT and other chemicals we were using to enhance agricultural productivity were poisoning our lakes, rivers, oceans, and ourselves. Thanks to her, progress can no longer be measured solely in tons of wheat produced and millions of insects killed. Thanks to her, the destruction of nature can no longer be called progress.”

http://www.ecotopia.org/ehof/carson/

 

3

Al Gore has written the Introduction to the Houghton Miffilin’s 1994 edition of the ‘Silent Spring’. He has mentioned: “Silent Spring came as a cry in the wilderness, a deeply felt, thoroughly researched, and brilliantly written argument that changed the course of history. Without this book, the environmental movement might have been long delayed or never have developed at all.” It is an elaborate Introduction about her work worth a reading by all of us.”

http://clinton2.nara.gov/WH/EOP/OVP/24hours/carson.html

 

 

Who is she?

 

The US Fish & Wildlife Services, Northern Region has produced a very nice biography of her. Those who want a quick read of the short biography may visit the following site:

http://www.fws.gov/northeast/rachelcarson/carsonbio.html

 

Those who want to read more about her are suggested to visit the wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Carson

 

The other very nice source to know about her is by her biographer, Linda Lear at http://www.rachelcarson.org/

 

It is a very pleasing site, to be browsed leisurely. At the end of the reading we would feel having engaged with a humane personality strongly committed to environment.

 

And finally please visit http://www.rachelcarsonhomestead.org/ to get a rounded view of the person and her work and to formulate for yourself as to how you probably could become part of what she worked for!

 

She expired on April 14, 1964 and The New York Times published a fitting obituary, reading which may make us mourn her death even today.

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0527.html

 

How would I narrate her life and works?

 

Rachel Carson, born in a simple family, growing up kindly disposed towards the nature around her, using language to explain the beauty to others, decides to work in favor of nature when people were found to harm it, braves all odds and steadfast moves forward to achieve what she has decided to work for and makes a path for every one to travel and contribute for the good of nature and the people, for a long time to come. And that is what we seem to be continuing even today and may continue in future.

No doubt there were people prior to her and there are people who worked for the theme after her; but she remains the beacon!

How did I, in a small way, contribute to her legacy?

 

She was my inspiration while designing and implementing an Environmental Management System in the year 2000 as per the International standard ISO 14001 in a mining company of 2400 employees.

The system is still continued in the company to systematically manage environmental issues.

 

So, would you like to narrate her story to your near and dear?

To share with children please visit:

http://www.the-aps.org/education/k12curric/pdf/carson.pdf

 

 

And I end this blog on a musical note, thanking you for your kind attention. Please view!

http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=HeHzqeyu3u0&feature=related

 

 

Sam Anbazhagan

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5 Comments

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  1. Marti Green
    We should teach our children to question things.  Particularly things that are “beyond question”. Rachel Carson may have meant well, however her success at demonizing DDT, has unquestionably directly led to the deaths of millions of individuals many of whom were children.

    To quote a recent article in Forbes magazine, “DDT kills mosquitoes, which carry malaria, which was all but eradicated before DDT was banned.” The article goes on to say “According to these CDC figures, malaria kills more than 800,000 children under age five every year.”

    It is good to have people who inspire us, we just can’t allow such inspiration to lead us blindly forward.

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    1. Anbazhagan Sam Venkatesan Post author
      Oh, is that so?
      I did not happen to read on DDT, mosquito and Malaria.
      You are very right in saying one must question the unquestionable and inspiration be not blind.

      And if we open our eyes and see in different perspective/s, may be we get inspired by another person! Or none and keep  seeking truth!

      Sam Anbazhagan

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      1. Jim Spath
        Sam Anbazhagan: I can’t thank you enough for this post on Rachel Carson and her legacy.  The ecology movement of the 1960s that she helped inspire led me on a path to earn an Environmental Engineering degree and work in this field for 20 years.  I’m still working on it, but now in my personal time.

        The Chesapeake Bay that Rachel loved is literally in my backyard, which drains to a stormwater retention pond (a civil engineering project we see more often today that 40 years  ago), then to Railroad Creek (see the Clue Train :-), then to Gunpowder River (the name a legacy of early 19th century chemical engineering) and finally to the Chesapeake Bay, named by the native Americans (that we called Indians because Columbus didn’t stop to ask for directions :-/).

        I’d definitely question comments where someone cites statistics from Forbes magazine, as it’s not a peer-reviewed science journal. That publication from the capitalist view will echo the corporate party line, which is not where I’d hope to find my moral guidance. For a more balanced view of Rachel Carson’s legacy, check out: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/06/29/rachel_carson/.  This is also not a science publication, so for further research, go to your local public library and read Science, Scientific American, the Lancet, American Journal of Epidemiology, etc.

        I’ll end with a quote by Rachel Carson I found on the http://www.rachelcarsonhomestead.org site: “It is not my contention that chemical insecticides never be used. I do contend that we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals indiscriminately into the hands of persons wholly ignorant of the potential for harm.”

        Jim

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    2. Anbazhagan Sam Venkatesan Post author
      Dear Green,

      Your comments have made me to make a day-long effort to know more about DDT and Malaria.
      The resources collected and referred here are from advocacy groups, some opposing groups, from media, from educational institutes, from professional sources, and from government bodies.

      Statistics on Malaria
      http://archive.idrc.ca/books/reports/1996/01-07e.html

      Resurrection of DDT: A critical appraisal
      http://icmr.nic.in/ijmr/2007/july/editorial1.pdf

      DDT: The fallen angel
      http://www.iisc.ernet.in/currsci/dec102003/1532.pdf

      Reliance on DDT is no solution, who is promoting DDT and others points
      http://www.panna.org/ddt/news

      If Malaria’s the Problem, DDT’s Not the Only Answer
      By May Berenbaum
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/04/AR2005060400130.html

      DDT Should Not Be Banned
      By John Dyson
      http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidinthenews/articles/SA_Readers_Digest_1200.html

      To Spray or Not to Spray: A Debate Over Malaria and DDT
      http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/projects/cases/ddt/ddt.html

      In the ultimate analysis, I am sure her work and contribution were for preventing such chemicals entering the food chain and spoiling the life cycle on the earth in the long term.

      In our side of the world, Malaria is still a happening thing.
      In the US it is said to have been eliminated long ago, that is, by 1940 itself.
      In certain parts of the world it is still showing its dreaded head due to various reasons.

      There certainly is a need for a solution.

      From a study of the material it appears that a debate is going on:
                 – To spray or not to spray?
                 – Is there an alternative?
                 – How o prevent use by agriculture, but use indoors?
                 – How many strains of Malaria are there and how they differ geographically?
      And many more points of agenda in various forums.

      We only wish that the debate becomes issue-based instead of casting aspersions on an individual who is no more.

      The book I have mentioned is “Corporate Environmental Management – Systems and Strategies” by Richard Welford, where in Rachel Carson’s work is referred.
      Please go through it, not for Carson sake but for the subject sake.
      Hope you also would go though the referred materials.

      And if we have to choose a person, as a source of inspiration for environmental management, please tell me who that could be and why.

      Please decide after considering all views.Your view matters.

      Thanks.

      Sam Anbazhagan

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