Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rachel Carson's message more important than ever

Good morning,

I hope you are all well. 

Do you feel a different energy in September?  Is the start of autumn your New Year?  It is for me, and combined  with the energy of cooler temperatures and two rainfalls I'm feeling better than I have in a while.

By two steps of the serendipity that guides my life and this blog, this morning I found the wonderful Orion Magazine ( by happening upon an article by a writer/educator whose work I respect, ecologist Sandra Steingraber.

In The Fracking of Rachel Carson: Silent Spring’s lost legacy, told in fifty parts Steingraber weaves together information about Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, with factual information about fracking, and its effects on people.  (

This is the first article I've managed to get through about fracking.  I've heard about it of course ... it has to do with the injection of water and chemicals and explosives deep, deep into holes and pipes underground to disrupt trapped gas, and capture it for use.  The first time someone told me about fracking, and I commented, I was called "niaive".  I'd said that surely you cannot put holes and chemicals underground without messing up all sorts of things you'd never expect to mess up.  Steingraber's article gives readable text that explains just how messed up things get when fracking is done.  Water tables are polluted, animals and people get sick - very sick. 

The "hook" that got me through Steingraber's article was the link she made with Rachel Carson and her work.  As Steingraber says about Carson: "She sat on a mountaintop and thought about oceans".  For me, there is incredible beauty in this image of scientist, dreamer, and visionary ... and thanks Sandra for giving me this gift.

Fracking is causing horrendous pollution and health problems to the land, water and living creatures in the lands around Rachel Carson's most beloved home turf, the Appalachian area of Pennsylvania, where hawks fly over geologic remnants of oceans.  That contrast inspired Carson to a lifetime of study.

After Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, she spent much time speaking to groups about the damaging effects of petrochemicals on the environment.  She also defended her comments to media and committees, and rebutted attacks by chemical industries. She kept secret that she had been diagnosed with cancer, and was thus denied her detractors opportunity to call her non-objective, or, in the terms of the times, a complaining woman.

Steingraber quotes in her article from Carson's final speech (Oct. 1963, in San Francisco)

"Underlying all of these problems of introducing contamination into our world is the question of moral responsibility. . . . [T]he threat is infinitely greater to the generations unborn; to those who have no voice in the decisions of today, and that fact alone makes our responsibility a heavy one."

I have a new realization of the truth of this.

Last week I had the joy of holding a new baby, just four days old.  She was so tiny.  She is perfect.  She yawned and wriggled in my arms and I was completely overwhelmed by the energy in her stretch and the strength concentrated in her tightened fist.  She's not my child.  She's not a relative.  She's the first child of an intelligent, caring woman I know and her equally good husband.  And I loved this child in my arms with the resolve I felt when I met my goddaughter for the first time over twenty-one years ago. 

Babies are good for us.  They renew us to our most deep and passionate connection to others, to nurture, and protect.

I encourage you to read Sandra Steingraber's article, and read or reread Silent Spring at its 50th anniversary.

Much love to all of you,

Why's Woman

The Fracking of Rachel Carson: Silent Spring’s lost legacy, told in fifty parts
Sandra Steingraber. Orior Magazine, September/October 2012,

Sandra Steingraber narrates a slide show about the fracking of Rachel Carson’s homeground at This article was made possible by generous support from the Park Foundation

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