In the Footsteps of Rachel Carson

"The road we have long been traveling on is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway … but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road offers our last and only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth."

—Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962

Dear Friends,

In her landmark book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson warned the public about the destructive effects of DDT only to suffer an onslaught of ferocious attacks from the chemical industry. Sarah Moore's excellent feature article "Silent Shore" in the September edition of Portland Magazine points out that Carson’s battle to protect the natural world is still raging. Sadly, the ocean that was her inspiration and her refuge is now in peril.

It is humbling to walk in the footsteps of Carson, an iconic figure whose work launched the environmental movement. Today, environmental scientists face an extremely antagonistic climate, and the problems Carson faced are compounded – we have thousands of toxic petrochemicals to worry about, our oceans are choking with plastics, and climate change is radically disrupting our lives.

A Critical Juncture: Meaningful Steps

Mainstream media articles like “Silent Shore” are reaching a broad public, focusing awareness on the consequences of environmental negligence and denial. It is significant that “Silent Shore” will reach a highly educated and affluent readership of 100,000 subscribers and thousands beyond.

While the administration blithely engages in planetary ecocide, cities, states, and corporations are standing up for the environment and public health. California is drawing world leaders to the Global Climate Action Summit this week, Fortune 500 companies are investing billions of dollars in renewable energy, and Starbucks is leading a mega-brand phase-out of billions of plastic straws. You can hear my NPR interview on this here.

The Power of One

Carson was a lone voice fighting the status quo with hard scientific evidence about the damaging effects of synthetic pesticides. Fifty years later, her legacy is still an urgent call to action to preserve the planet. But we are still at that fork in the road. Will we take the right one in time?


Susan Shaw