Maine Audubon to celebrate Rachel Carson's legacy

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FALMOUTH — Environmental advocates at both the local and national level say they have serious concerns about the rollback of protections, some of which have been in place for decades.

That’s in part why the Environmental Health Strategy Center in Portland and Maine Audubon in Falmouth are offering a program on Rachel Carson, considered by many to be the mother of the modern-day environmental movement.

The talk, entitled “Celebration of Rachel Carson with Sandra Steingraber,” will be held May 24 at Gilsland Farm and will begin with a 5:30 p.m. speaker’s reception. The event also includes a book-signing and question-and-answer session.

Tickets are $24 per person for the evening or $15 for just the presentation.

Elyse Tipton, director of advancement at the Environmental Health Strategy Center, said Steingraber survived cancer as a young adult and has since “devoted her life to advocating against toxic chemicals (and) on behalf of children and communities nationwide.”

Now, she “will bring Rachel Carson’s legacy to life and show how the work Carson did and the challenges she faced (can) inspire and teach those who (continue to) ground their environmental activism in science.”

Tipton said, “Science-based environmental advocacy is always important, (but) never more so than now, when we are seeing government leaders reversing policies put in place to protect public health, wildlife and wildlife habitat.”

She said Carson used “her eloquent writing” to warn about “the destructive effects of toxic chemicals on plants, animals and humans” and “perhaps Carson can (serve) as an inspiration in perseverance for government scientists today whose recommendations are being rejected by Trump administration appointees.”

Tipton said there are numerous reasons to remember “Rachel Carson as the pioneering scientist and poetic author she was,” including her long-time commitment to “conserving wildlife and protecting public health through science-based practices and policies.”

“Beginning in the early 1960s with the publication of her groundbreaking book, ‘Silent Spring,’ Carson faced attacks on her credibility as she bravely spoke out about toxic pollution and the related environmental damage that directly affects humans and wildlife,” Tipton added.

In her talk, Steingraber will “weave together the common strands of two crises that threaten the very future of humans and wildlife – climate change and toxic chemicals,” Tipton said.

“(We hope) many in the audience will see the big picture in a new way (and that) guests will be inspired and motivated to advocate for both public health and wildlife conservation, especially at this time of unprecedented attacks on the nation’s environmental protection policies,” she said.

“There are so many positive and fulfilling ways for people to be better stewards, citizen-scientists, and advocates on behalf of wildlife and the broader environment,” Tipton said. “One example is Maine Audubon’s ‘Bringing Nature Home’ initiative, which focuses specifically on improving habitat for insects, birds and other wildlife.”

“Emissaries such as Rachel Carson and Dr. Steingraber have helped to effectively make the case for eliminating toxins, reducing our carbon footprint and trying to eradicate invasive species,” but, she said, anyone can take steps to restore the ecology around them.

Tipton said making a difference can be as simple as choosing native species for landscaping projects. “These plants have been part of our landscapes for thousands of years, (but) are in dramatic decline along with the wildlife that has co-adapted with them.”

“We see these plants as part of the answer for new local pesticide ordinances, climate resiliency and engaged communities.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Rachel Carson, widely considered the mother of the modern environmental movement, will be the subject of a May 24 talk at Maine Audubon in Falmouth.

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