May 27, 1907 – Rachel Carson:
”Human beings are a part of nature, and our war against nature is inevitably a war against ourselves.”
Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring (1962) inspired an Environmental Movement and the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Silent Spring is one of the 20th century’s most influential books.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an independent executive agency, of the United States federal government for environmental protection. President Richard M. Nixon, who now seems downright cuddly, proposed the establishment of EPA in summer 1970, and it was a done deal by the end of the year after being ratified by the House and Senate.
The agency conducts environmental assessment, research, and education. It is led by an administrator who is appointed by the president and approved by Congress. The current administrator is douchey, utterly corrupt Andrew R. Wheeler, a lawyer and lobbyist who represented the coal industry and lobbied against Barack Obama‘s Administration’s environmental regulations. He is noted for his rejection of the science behind climate change. Wheeler is a critic of limits on greenhouse gas emissions and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Wheeler has said:
“Most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.”
Last year, thousands of scientists from around the world put out a report saying humanity can prevent the worst climate impacts of the next 50 to 75 years, but only if we rapidly decarbonize the planet within a decade. And even if we don’t rapidly decarbonize within that time frame, we can still slow and prevent many terrible events by reducing emissions as quickly as we can.
Wheeler’s work at the EPA has been denounced by 70 scientific and medical groups including the American Lung Association, American Medical Association, and American Psychological Association and the editors of five leading scientific journals: Nature, Cell, PLOS One, and the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences. A bipartisan group of former EPA administrators, testifying before the House Energy Subcommittee on Oversight criticized his proposals to restrict the use of science in EPA decision making. The EPA’s own Science Advisory Board also pushed back against his proposals.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the EPA has declared that for an indefinite amount of time, it would not fine companies for violating environment regulations if the EPA agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic caused the violation.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm, hit New Orleans. Levee and floodwall failures led to more than 1,800 fatalities not only in Louisiana, but also in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. The event also set off a series of 59 tornadoes across the span of just six days that tore across nine states from the Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley.
While drilling a deep exploratory well in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, the rig known as Deepwater Horizon exploded. 11 of the 126 crew members died. Over the next 87 days, the rig spewed 206 million gallons of oil into the gulf. Over 800,000 birds, 65,000 turtles, 12% of the area’s dolphins died. 10% of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill sank to the seafloor, affecting the seafloor for decades to come.
In 2012, nearly two-thirds (65.45%) of the continental U.S. was covered by drought. Also in 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused $70.2 billion worth of damage in numerous states along the East Coast of the USA, shutting down transportation systems. Sandy weakened to a post-tropical cyclone, causing the greatest number of direct fatalities related to a tropical cyclone since Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
In 2013, officials in Michigan decided to switch the source of Flint’s drinking water to the Flint River rather than Detroit City water. A few months later the water tested positive for coliform bacteria which typically indicated that pathogens are present in the water. The percentage of children with high lead levels in their blood doubled. The water from the Flint River likely corroded the lead in the pipes, which poisoned the residents for 18 months between 2014 and 2015. The contaminated water has also been blamed for an increase in a severe type of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease thanks to the low levels of chlorine. As many as 119 deaths that year from pneumonia may have been caused by legionella bacteria in the Flint water. In addition, a study found that fetal death rates rose, and fertility rates dropped following the water-source switch.
Hurricane Irma in 2017, made seven landfalls, four of which occurred as a Category 5 hurricane across the northern Caribbean Islands and affected at least nine states, turning streets into rivers, ripping down power lines, uprooting trees and cutting off coastal communities. Irma was the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Also, in 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the Louisiana-Texas border and broke the U.S. record for rainfall from a single storm, and numerous known human carcinogens were among the dozens of tons of industrial toxic substances released into surrounding neighborhoods and waterways following Harvey’s torrential rains. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria all occurred in the same year and contributed to 2017 being “the most expensive year on record for disasters.
It didn’t really make the news at the time, but in 2013 there was a five-mile-long oil slick on the California coast near Santa Barbara, an unfathomably gorgeous stretch of the West Coast.
Scientists tell us that 17 million metric tons of plastic were dumped in our pretty planet’s oceans last year, enough to cover every foot of coastline on our spinning blue orb. What’s more, it is predicted that the amount will more than double in the next decade.
Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose books make her a sort of godmother of modern environmentalism.
She became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised bestseller The Sea Around Us (1951) brought Carson financial security and much critical praise as a gifted writer. Her next books The Edge Of The Sea (1955) and Under The Sea Wind (1957) were also bestsellers. The Sea Trilogy explores ocean life, from the shores to the surface of the bottom of the deep blue sea.
In the late 1950s, Carson turned her attention to the environmental problems caused by pesticides. Silent Spring became an unusually popular book about our environmental concerns, and brought enraged denial from the big chemical companies. Chemical giants Monsanto, Dow, and Velsicol vilified her as an emotional, hysterical, anti-American writer, a childless ”spinster” who had ”no business being interested in genetics” and who was ”probably a communist”. Time magazine claimed that she was the most dangerous person in the USA.
But Carson’s bestseller brought the USA into a sort of reversal in our national pesticide policy, including a ban on the chemical DDT. Her books gave birth to the first grassroots Environmental Movement and helped bring about the EPA, the Clean Water Act Of 1972 and the Safe Drinking Water Act Of 1974, which our paprika colored POTUS and his cronies are currently in the process of dismantling. They simply seem as disinterested in the health of the planet as they do the health care of its citizenry. Concern with the oceans is a job-killer after all. They look backwards to when America was made great with non-regulated pesticide use. Carson is not a hero to the GOP, but she is to me. It is so sad that the work that Carson’s books inspired will now be unraveled.
Attacks on Carson by Climate Change deniers and Fox News commentators continues. Discrediting science is all about making money. Understanding science would require corporations to change their practices, and the government to implement necessary regulations. The GOP hates regulations.
”If the Bill of Rights contains no guarantee that a citizen shall be secure against lethal poisons distributed either by private individuals or public officials, it is surely only because our forefathers, despite their considerable wisdom and foresight, could conceive of no such problems.”
In 1953, Carson moved to an island off the coast of Maine, where she became acquainted with Dorothy Freeman. The two women started a relationship that would last the rest of Carson’s life.
Freeman was a summer resident of the island along with her husband. She had written to Carson to welcome her to island life. She had read Carson’s work and was pleased that the famous writer would be her neighbor. The pair loved nature and they loved each other. They wrote letters when apart. They continued their love affair every summer for a decade, until Carson died, ironically, of cancer in 1964.
The prescient Carson probably would not have imagined an America where corporations are now legally people, replete with human rights, endangering the rights of ordinary noncorporate humans whose right to live in the un-poisoned world Carson bravely defended.
”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.”