This Earth Day, I’m taking a minute to think about Rachel Carson, the journalist who started it all. Carson’s series of New Yorker articles about the dangers of pesticide exposure to human health became Silent Spring, the 1962 book credited with kicking off environmentalism as a movement. She was one of the first to introduce the idea that 20 years later was defined as the “Precautionary Principle” by the United Nations: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”
Rachel Carson’s work lead to better restrictions of chemicals, the DDT ban, and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, which was also the year that Earth Day was first celebrated. Sadly, Carson died of breast cancer in 1964, but was posthumously given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and a Rachel Carson stamp was issued the following year.
So on this Earth Day and every day, I’m proud to be named after her. Thanks, Rachel!