Douglas Brinkley: Our planet needs another

what you saw after a week Hurricane Nicole hits Florida coastAnd President Joe Biden at the annual Global Climate Conference in EgyptHistorian Douglas Brinkley (whose latest book deals with the beginnings of the environmental movement) reminds us: Pay attention.

When writing a history of Rachel Carson and the environmental movement of the 1960s and ’70s, I was bombarded daily with contemporary news stories about human-caused climate change disasters.

A new National Climate Assessment Draft report released last week warned that, for several troubling reasons, the United States is warming 68 percent faster than the entire planet.

Yet, during our 2022 midterm elections, our climate chaos was not raised as a top voter concern.

This disappointed me.


In the long sixties, three presidents on both sides – John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon – had the courage to put ecological issues at the forefront of America’s public square.

The originator was Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book “Silent Spring” memorably linked Theodore Roosevelt-style nature conservation to backyard public health concerns.

Carson warned of pesticides such as DDT in a 1963 “CBS Reports” documentary: “These sprays, dust, and aerosols … have the power to kill every insect, good and bad; there is still the song of birds and of fish in rivers.” To leap, and to stay in the mud,” she said.

The advent of “Silent Spring” led the federal government to eventually ban leaded gasoline and DDT.

Today, we need a “Rachel Carson Moment” that will wake the public to understand that climate change is the primary challenge of our time.

Leaders on both sides need to work together to offer American citizens an emergency climate change adjustment plan.

Nothing less than the salvation of the earth as we know it is at stake.

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Story produced by Robert Marston. Editor: Chad Cardin.

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