American Hero Rachel Carson and the Origins of Earth Day
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 at a time when Americans needed an environmental wake up call. Cars with gas guzzling V8 engines crowded the highways. Unregulated factory smoke stacks spewed tons of poisonous gases into the air and waterways.
One of my heroes played an indirect, but important, role in the creation of Earth Day.
Rachel Carson (1907-1964), “Voice for the Earth,” was an author and scientist whose courage, selfless spirit, and sense of wonder inspired the modern environmental movement. Her books about nature helped people realize our interconnectedness with the world of plants and animals. In 1951, her book The Sea Around Us was published. It remained on The New York Times best-seller list for 81 weeks and was translated into 32 languages. In 1962, Carson wrote Silent Spring, a book that spoke courageously about the irresponsible use of poisonous chemicals. Though powerful chemical companies labeled her an alarmist, her book awakened millions of people to the importance of caring for the planet. In 1980, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, was awarded in her memory.
“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
Silent Spring started a movement that included not only the first Earth Day, but also creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.