RACHEL CARSON – A BORN ECOLOGIST

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Portrait of American marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson (1907 - 1964) as she sits as a desk in her office, Maryland, August 1962. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

‘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

Rachel Carson was a ‘born ecologist’ a talented writer and a scientist. Rachel Louise Carson was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania. She aspired to be a writer from an early age.She studied English major at Pennsylvania College, but destiny led her to change her major to Biology. Her main area of research remained marine biology while studying at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. After graduation in 1929 she went on to study MA at Johns Hopkins University and completed her degree in 1932.

Her breakthrough in scientific writing came about the time when she was hired as a scientist and editor by United States Bureau of Fisheries in 1936 which later was called US Fish and Wildlife service.She was promoted to the position of Editor-in-Chief because of her commendable work. She won this role based on her distinction in both biology research and writing; had a fifteen-year long career with this federal service writing radio scripts and editing the feature articles. One of her prominent programs on marine life was known as ‘Romance Under the Waters’ a series of seven minute radio program. Being a conservationist at heart, she always urged through her writing to regulate the force of destruction and focused primarily on the welfare of fish and the fishermen alike. Baltimore Sun and its syndicated papers regularly published her articles.

“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.”

She wrote an article named ‘Undersea’ in 1937 for the Atlantic Monthly based on the government research which was then turned into a book Under the Sea-Wind in 1941. This book was widely praised because it reflected the experience and hard work of a scientist and its precise transformation through concise words into lyrical pose style writing. Carson continued working for the US Fish and Wildlife service where she authored various bulletins like Conservation in Action which was devoted to form a layman’s perspective about exploring wildlife and ecology. Another series, Food from the Sea was about the benefits of fish and shellfish in our diet. In 1951, she wrote a book titles The Sea Around Us which became a national bestseller and even won a National Book Award. This book was translated into 32 different languages.  The Edge of the Sea was her third book which was published in 1955.

She wrote state of the art articles which inspired people to make them appreciate the beauty and wonders of the living world. A few of her books highlighting her vision about the nature are Help Your Child to Wonder and Our Ever-Changing Shore published in 1956 and 1957 respectively. Her mantra in these books were to emphasize on the reality which is, that humans are a part of nature and what gives them power is their ability to alter the nature.

After World War II, there was a massive increase in the use of synthetic chemical pesticides such as DDT(Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane). Carson took notice of it and wanted to warn the public about the harmful effects of such chemical pesticides. Therefore, she wrote her book Silent Spring in 1962 to make people realize the impact of their activities on the planetary ecosystems and warn them about the consequences of using harmful chemical pesticides. She received many lawsuit threats from the chemical industry, but she stood to her word. In 1963, she testifies before congress and made a call for new policies designed to protect nature and human health. Silent Spring was a wake-up call for the Americans to think about the environment and it led to the start of the contemporary environmental movement. She wrote in Silent Spring,

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.In nature nothing exists alone.”

Two years since her last publication and after a long and tiring battle against breast cancer, Rachel Carson bid farewell to the world on April 14, 1964 at the age of 57. To pay tribute to her work and to honor her memory with the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1969, they name one of their refugees after Carson’s as the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. In 1980, after her death she was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In the end, I would like to quote her insightful words about life. She once beautifully said,

‘Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.’

About Author: Nimra Fayyaz is student of Environmental Sciences at Forman Christian College Lahore.She serves as head of marketing team at Earthly Perspective Magazine.

References

http://www.rachelcarson.org/Bio.aspx

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Rachel-Carson

https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/rachel-carson

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Rachel_Carson/about/rachelcarson.html

https://www.carsoncenter.uni-muenchen.de/about_rcc/archive/mission/rachel_carson_bio/index.html

https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/rachel-carson-silent-spring.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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