Douglas Brinkley: Our planet needs another

After a week which saw Hurricane Nicole batter the Florida coast, and President Joe Biden at the annual global climate conference in Egypt, historian Douglas Brinkley (whose latest book deals with the dawn of the environmental movement) reminds us: attention must be paid.

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

A new National Climate Assessment Draft Report released this past week warned that, for a host of disturbing reasons, the United States has warmed 68 percent faster than the planet as a whole.

Yet, during our 2022 midterm elections, our climate chaos wasn’t elevated as a top voter concern.

That disappointed me.


Back in the Long Sixties, three presidents, from both parties – John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon – had the courage to elevate ecological issues to the forefront of America’s public square.

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

Carson warned of pesticides, like DDT, in a 1963 “CBS Reports” documentary: “These sprays, dusts, and aerosols … have the power to kill every insect, the good and the bad; to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams; and to linger on in soil,” she said.

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

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

Leaders from both parties need to work in tandem to offer American citizens an emergency climate change adjustment plan.

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

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Story produced by Robert Marston. Editor: Chad Cardin.

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