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This week’s podcast rebroadcasts an episode we first heard a couple years ago, but Rachel Carson Dreams of the Sea is as good a tribute to Earth Day’s 50th anniversary as you will find:
Before she published “Silent Spring,” one of the most influential books of the last century, Rachel Carson was a young aspiring poet and then a graduate student in marine biology. Although she couldn’t swim and disliked boats, Carson fell in love with the ocean. Her early books—including “The Sea Around Us,” “The Edge of the Sea” and “Under the Sea Wind”—were like no other nature writing of their time, Jill Lepore says: Carson made you feel you were right there with her, gazing into the depths of a tide pool or lying in a cave lined with sea sponges. Lepore notes that Carson was wondering about a warming trend in the ocean as early as the 1940s, and was planning to explore it after the publication of “Silent Spring.” If she had not died early, of cancer, could Carson have brought climate change to national attention well before it was too late?
Excerpts from Carson’s work were read by Charlayne Woodard, and used with permission of Carson’s estate.
Here are some final thoughts following my discussion of the relationship between deep ecology and certain American figures:
Just as deep ecologists at heart may need to stay closeted to keep their public shallow ecology jobs, shallow ecology groups such as The Group of Ten must retain their traditional views in order to maintain government support and continue to receive public donations from massive bases. In the early 1980s alone, Sierra Club membership grew by 90%; as the mainstream groups grow, it makes sense that more radical splinters will form. Unlike traditional environmental groups, however, the fringe splinters are fairly flexible to fundamental changes in ideology. David Foreman eventually left Earth First!, thinking it had become too concerned with social justice issues when the group opened alliances with labor unions; he believed wilderness preservation had lost priority as the group’s mission. But was this shift in Earth First!’s goals one from deep to shallow ecology? This query presents issues inherent in social justice, which are far too vast to discuss here; the simplest answer, it seems, would depend greatly on whom the group was serving, and to what ends. Continue reading