Heroic Environmentalists

Throughout history certain people have made it their mission to speak out against the wrongs others were doing to the environment and take a stand to protect our fragile Earth. Here are some of the most well-known heroic environmentalists.

The Foremother — Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson has been called “the mother of the modern environmental movement.” She was an outdoorswoman who spent a lot of time exploring the forests of Pennsylvania and the rocky coast of Maine. She loved nature and the things she wrote about the environment have stirred people throughout time to value and protect the earth.

A biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rachel Carson believed that though humans are part of nature, they also have the power to hurt the natural environment. She worried about people using chemical pesticides and she wrote about it in her famous book called Silent Spring. The book warned people about the dangers of using pesticides and how it could affect the environment and human health. She testified in front of Congress in 1963, calling for new policies to protect the environment and people from the use of chemicals. This action and her book, made such an impression on President Kennedy (and others) that he ordered the testing of the chemicals of which she wrote.

Sadly, Rachel Carson developed breast cancer and died in 1964, but her life and books have encouraged a whole generation to protect the environment.

The Spirit of the Trees — John Muir

Sometimes a great environmentalist does their job just by telling stories. That was John Muir's gift. Through the stories he wrote about his life in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, he affected millions of people. One of our earliest conservationists, he lived from 1838–1914. He started the Sierra Club, an important conservation organization, and helped to save the Yosemite Valley and other wilderness areas. He believed that we needed to save wilderness not for its money value or even its biodiversity, but for its own sake and for its spiritual effect on mankind. He helped to change the way we look at the natural world.

Treating Our Closest Relatives Better — Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall lived in the jungles of Africa for twenty-five years and watched chimpanzees live their lives. The things she saw taught us a lot about our closest animal relatives. It changed how people thought about chimpanzees and made us think about how we treat primates throughout the world. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute to help save habitats, teach about the environment, and keep primate research and protection going in Africa. To this day, Jane Goodall spends much of her time speaking around the world and sharing her message of hope for the future. She wants to encourage young people to make a difference in their world.

Did You Know?

The Butterfly and the Redwood

In 1997 a young woman named Julia Butterfly Hill climbed into a giant redwood that was going to be cut down and refused to come down. She stayed in the tree (named Luna) for two years! She finally came down when an agreement could be reached with the lumber company not to cut the tree down.

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