Shocking incidents jolt people into eco-activism. The March 24, 1989, Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill near my Alaskan birthplace reinforced my own commitment. By then my parents had moved to northern Idaho and joined the Kootenai Environmental Alliance to protect nearby lakes, and I was traveling between Colorado and Canada. Nevertheless, the news that 11 million gallons of crude oil had fouled the pristine waters of Prince William Sound battered my heart, so I vowed to continue researching clean-energy inventions that work in harmony with nature.
I had already learned, from frontier scientists, that a primal source of power — the universe’s background energy — could make oil-burning and nuclear power plants obsolete. Yet inventors of fuel-less electric generators usually lacked funding for further development of their prototypes.
As a journalist, I could spread public awareness of their work. Avery Publishing Group of New York published my first book, The Coming Energy Revolution, and a later co-authored book Breakthrough Power won an Independent Publishers Book Awards medal for “most likely to save the environment.”
When students attending new-energy conferences in Europe told me they were there because they had read foreign editions of my books, I knew my decades of interviewing scientists and inventors made at least a small difference. Another validation was an invitation to speak to 300 women from 25 countries at the 2017 International Women’s Forum for Future Energy in Kazakhstan. Since then, a new book I co-authored, Hidden Energy, sparked the interest of students in the Global Breakthrough Energy Movement.
I take heart from the rise of activism globally. Youths are planting trees and community gardens, and restoring urban creeks. They act locally while thinking globally, and connect online. Where I live in Canada, young people from three indigenous nations came together in person for a Youth Salmon Warriors Gathering. Excerpted from their statement): “We have come to the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River. … We are here as salmon’s witness. Our sacred relative has been gone from these waters for too long, … and we will never stop fighting for their right to come home.”
In her lifetime, Rachel Carson (1907–1964) had her own reasons for passionate defense of nature.
Carson was a biologist who revered the myriad expressions of life in the natural world. She informed the public about the chemical industry’s unregulated pesticides — products such as DDT that damage the web of life. As a result, use of DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, a synthetic insecticide that disorganizes nervous systems) began to be restricted and in the 1970s many countries banned it.
Rachel Carson valued nature so much that neither the anger of the chemical industry nor her fight with breast cancer could stop her from publishing her landmark book Silent Spring, in 1962. She succumbed to her illness eighteen months later, yet the book became a bestseller. It inspires Earth stewards today.
What would she say to youth who fear their future? I believe Carson would have compassion for young people who face daunting issues of pollution, disturbed climate, the rising threat of nuclear war, and shattered economies. And they confront the same forces of greed that caused Carson to describe her century as “…an era dominated by industry, in which the right to make a dollar at whatever cost is seldom challenged.”
Destruction also results from a century of materialistic, reductionistic science that largely ignores nature’s wisdom. Rachel Carson, on the other hand, saw intelligence as well as beauty in the workings of the natural world.