From Carson to Thunberg: Killing the Messenger
Rachel Carson (1907-1964) died without knowing the positive results her last book Silent Spring had in the United States of America and all over the world. She lived long enough to suffer the attacks of her opponents who accused her of being not only disloyal, but radical, hysterical, non-professional, and even sympathetic towards communism. However, she did not enjoy fame and recognition. Timing also played against her in the Cold War years when anything said or written could be seen as unpatriotic. She knew how to write didactically, making complex content understandable for the masses and was able to make them aware of the deadly chemical substances used in pesticides and herbicides, which was the most important fact for her success and for the ban of DDT.
Carson died of cancer and although it is not proven, she may have contracted the illness while being exposed to laboratory chemicals. Further, she had “the obligation to endure” as she titled the second chapter of her book. In a world ruled by man, she was often the center of criticism due to her condemnation of pesticides and herbicides, and her identity as a conservationist. She stated, “The most alarming of all man's assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible…” (p.6). Now, we face the unmanageable, “universal contamination of the environment,” (p.6). Chemicals continue being the evil but the consequences are not limited to only the pollution of waterways, soils and atmosphere.
In the 21st century, the terrifying reality of the green house-gasses/emissions and their irreversible chain of reactions are beyond our civilized control. We now have Greta Thunberg, a new messenger, who has also been demonized and/or victimized by the climate deniers. The teen environmental activist, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is making a passionate plea and outstanding contribution to society. She is inspiring millions all over the world to take part the in Climate Action Strike which took place the last month of September in New York at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. As expected, some media not only has accused her of being sold out to economic interests but has been mocking her condition and accusing her parents and corporations of using her. Thunberg delivered a scathing speech at the United Nations and her unbridled honesty was aimed at those who are involved in state-corporate crimes. She accuses world leaders of “stealing her dreams and her childhood with their inaction on climate change.” Over 50 years ago, Carson pointed her finger at the environmental problems caused by synthetic pesticides. Now, the result of both women speaking out is the same: they elevated environmental concerns to the world stage, while loathful and spineless politicians sat on their laurels, content to take bribes from selfish corporate interests. Both have suffered in the midst of their attention, as they serve as messengers for this global concern.