First Edition, September 1962
Fifty years ago, environmentalist Rachel Carson's concerns about DDT killing songbirds were captured in her seminal work Silent Spring. And today, decades after widespread use of DDT was halted, songbirds still sing. While we'd like to think she'd be happy by the outcome, in all likelihood, she'd be appalled by how many sequels she could write: Iceless Arctic, Plastic Oceans, Pollinator Apocalypse, Suburbia Under Sea....
Rachel Carson succeeded, in part, because she was able to focus on a single issue: one dangerous pesticide. Today, there's such a wide range of environmental issues that are every bit as serious as DDT that it is hard to garner a critical mass of concern--and publicity--about any single one of them.
Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth used CO2 as the proxy for the sum of all ills, a reasonable proxy as it adds together the impact of energy used by buildings, transportation, production and more. Wrapped within the measure are underlying trends, some largely driven by the developed world, such as larger houses and increased consumption of disposable "stuff," and others that span the globe, such as growing population and increased distance between where items are produced and consumed.
As someone who is deeply concerned about the state of our planet, there are days I suffer cause fatigue, knowing that for every mile less that I drive, there are millions in the emerging middle classes around the world who will drive 100 to replace it. I can eat organic, cut back meat, carry my own shopping bags, walk, bike or bus when I can, live in less space, install LEDs or compact fluorescent bulbs, repair instead of replace, shun bottled water, turn off lights when I leave the room... and it all adds up to so little change that it can seem like much ado about nothing. But Rachel Carson showed that one person can make a difference. She made a difference with words as well as actions. She picked a single issue and put all of her effort into changing it.
Rachel Carson made a difference because, unlike the spring she feared, she was not silent..
I'm passionate about sustainable architecture + energy + food and how advances in their technology can help save the planet.