Rachel Carson Council president speaks to World Affairs Council about continuing the environmentalist's legacy

News photo by Emily Thiel Dr. Robert Musil, Ph.D. shows his book ìRachel Carson and Her Sisters: the Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped the Global Environmentî at the World Affair's Council June 11.

Do you ever wonder how you can help the environment? One author is answering this question by tapping into influences of the past to promote continued conservation for our planet.

Dr. Robert Musil, President and CEO of the Rachel Carson Society and national environmental leader and author, spoke to members of the World Affairs Councils of Greater Reading recently. Musil was named president of the Rachel Carson Council in 2014 and his latest piece of written work focuses on Carson’s contributions to the world of environmental studies.

“Rachel Carson and Her Sisters: the Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped the Global Environment” was written with the author’s intent to not just re-inspire himself, but to lay a groundwork for future environmentalists. The book highlights a message for young adults and our global society, as the environmentalist is keen on inspiring others to preserve our natural resources.

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As a child growing up in New York, Musil explored nature with his mother. He witnessed his home of Long Island, a land luscious with trees, plants, flowers and wildlife, transformed to a paved concrete metropolis. The reality of over-development, along with his strong opposition to the effects of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War and investment in the peace movement, led him to a career in environmental activism.

Rachel Carson is well-known for her book, “Silent Spring” (1962), which shines light on the negative effects to the human population from the pesticide DDT. But Carson’s contribution to environmentalism exceeds further than her exposing of pesticides. While she may best be known for her book about DDT, Carson’s knowledge of environmental issues ranged to a much larger scale. “Carson was a ‘global’ thinker. She was highly political, an active liberal democrat, and had an interest in science-based environmentalism and environmental health,” Musil told The Southern Berks News.

Musil’s novel focuses on the inspiration Carson provided to her modern-day “daughters” through her lifetime activism. She knew about global climate change and was actively against radioactive waste and ocean dumping. Carson warned about nuclear power and pesticides. Carson’s own health was threatened when she was diagnosed with breast cancer; she died in 1964. In her lifetime, Carson worked with conservationist Rosalie Edge, who was instrumental in establishing Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. While her contributions to the field are remembered and appreciated, there were “hundreds of women before Carson.” The author reminds us that the major issues studied today involving our global conditions represent the sciences. However, the field of science is lacking a strong female presence.

Musil encourages the young women of today to follow Carson’s lead to “combine an interest of literature, history, philanthropy, religion, and writing.”

In the book, the author branches out to highlight four women in environmentalism who are considered “daughters” of Carson, following her as a true “citizen of the world.”

Today, our world population has now reached over 7 billion people. “We cannot move forward and truly have an impact without a global treaty,” Musil said.

Environmental issues hit close to home, especially for residents of Berks County. Pennsylvanians hear about environmental issues like fracking, which is used to extract natural oil and gas from rock.

Musil is possessed with an increased hope for the future, but it will require collective efforts around the globe. While he recommends taking day-to-day actions with things like buying local, reducing your consumption of meat, recycling, carpooling and using energy efficient appliances, no change will occur without collective efforts.

Becoming involved with civic engagement, working with groups who support environmentalism, supporting local farming and women’s reproductive health are actions that will evoke changes and effects.

His lecture promoted taking action with political activism on global and federal levels and becoming truly engaged in your community and environment. Carson worked with biologists Raymond Pearl and Maud Dewitt Pearl, who studied eugenics.

She also worked closely with Congress, Stewart Udall, the John F. Kennedy administration and environmental groups to educate people about the importance of protecting our earth for future generations.

Uniting with local lawmakers and organizations dedicated to the cause is a beginning step.

The World Affairs Council of Greater Reading will host Randall Newnham, Ph.D. on the Crisis in the Ukraine noon Sept. 10, 2014 at the Inn at Reading, Wyomissing. For more on the organization, visit http://www.wacreading.org/.

About the Author

Emily Thiel

Emily Thiel is the editor of The Southern Berks News and is the Community Engagement Editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers. Emily joined Berks-Mont in March 2013. She graduated from Kutztown University in 2011 with a degree in English with a concentration in Cultural and Media Studies. Emily is a native of Allentown, Pa. Reach the author at ethiel@berksmontnews.com or follow Emily on Twitter: @sthrnberksnews.