By Guest Contributor
Rachel Louise Carson was an American marine biologist, author and conservationist. She is recognised as one of the biggest and most vital conservationists in history as well as the mother of modern environmentalism. Her campaign revolved around challenging the use of man-made chemicals and her research eventually led to the complete ban of DDT and other pesticides nationwide.
She was a naturalist and advocated for the use of organic methods by agricultural scientists. According to the National Women's Museum, the impact of the environmental movement that she embarked on led to the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Rachel Louise Carson was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania. She was raised on a 65-acre farm and spent her childhood years exploring the fields, falling in love with nature and writing about it.
When she was 10, her first work was published in a children's magazine which was quite a feat. Growing up in such a natural environment instilled a major knowledge of nature and wildlife in her which then served as a drive that spurred her on to make all the moves that she made in defence of mother nature.
According to Carson, "In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand, there is the story of the earth." She initially decided to pursue a career in writing, however, while still in college, she changed her major from English to Biology. In 1929, she graduated from the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College).
She then proceeded to John Hopkins University, which was a very rare occurrence for women at the time, where she did some graduate work. She had her fellowship at the U.S. Marine Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and taught at the Johns Hopkins summer school during the course of her post-graduate studies.
She later went on to teach at the University of Maryland for five years.
Her Works and Contribution to Science
After spending five years at the University of Maryland, Rachel Louise Carson got employment at the Bureau of Fisheries in 1935. One of her major responsibilities at first was to create a series of seven-minute radio programs devoted to talking about marine life. They were tagged "Romance Under the Waters."
By 1936, she was regarded as one of the only two women who had employment at a professional level with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bureau and this was stated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service itself.
She worked here until 1952 and before she left, she had already been promoted to editor-in-chief of the service's publications. She also contributed her quota during World War II by studying and investigating undersea sounds to help the Navy in their quest for the detection of submarines.
While doing her work for the government, she was responsible for writing a significant number of articles which were published by the Baltimore Sun. As a step in the right direction, she wrote her first book titled "Under the Sea-Wind," which was published in 1941. The theme was a scientific study on marine life but it was written in simple language so that it could be easily understood.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, she published her second book, "The Sea Around Us," in 1951 and it became an instant bestseller and brought her some fortune. Furthermore, remained on The New York Times' best-seller list for 81 weeks and won a National Book Award. It was also translated into 32 different languages.
In 1955, she published her third book, "Under the Sea."
Prior to this, Carson had spent the 1950s researching the effects of pesticides on the food chain across the United States and Europe. She was assisted by Clarence Cottam, a former employee of Fish and Wildlife Service as well as Shirley Briggs, who was an editor of an Audubon Naturalist Society magazine called Atlantic Naturalist at the time.
It was this work that served as the basis of her book "Silent Spring" which was published by The New Yorker in 1962 as a serial and was said to have taken her a total of four years to write by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The book mainly focused on the negative, destructive effects of pesticides with a focus on the effects of DDT. Major takeaways from this book include the question she asked about whether humans had the right to control nature as well as the concept of Earth being able to only sustain pollution levels for a particular amount of time.
Here's an excerpt from the book, "Silent Spring":
"One of the most significant features of DDT and related chemicals is the way they are passed on from one organism to another through all the links of the food chain. Fields of alfalfa, say, are dusted with DDT; meal is later prepared from the alfalfa and fed to hens; the hens lay eggs that contain DDT. Or the hay, containing residues of from seven to eight parts per million, may be fed to cows. The DDT will turn up in the milk in the amount of about three parts per million, but in butter made from this milk, the concentration may run to sixty-five parts per million. During the process of transfer, what started out as a very small amount of DDT may end as a heavy concentration. The poison may be passed on from mother to offspring. The presence of insecticide residues in human milk has been established by the Food and Drug Administration scientists."
She faced opposition from chemical companies that tried to discredit her and claimed she was a communist or simply hysterical. However, her message spread and she went on to earn a presidential commission for the book.
Rachel Louise Carson died in 1964 after a prolonged battle with breast cancer but would forever be regarded as a hero.
For Immediate Release
Singapore, 4 December 2019 - In March 2020, a self-funded team of 10 women coming together under the banner of ‘HER Planet Earth’ - a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore dedicated to gender equality and environmental conservation - will attempt the winter crossing of Greenland's Arctic Circle Trail on fatbikes. This is a feat that has never been accomplished by an all-female team before. The objective of this 11-day, 200km pioneering expedition is to raise awareness and funds (a team total of S$50,000) for underprivileged women affected by climate change in the Asia region.
In the past decade, climate related disasters have led to the loss of 700 thousand lives, 1.7 billion people affected and economic losses of USD 1.4 trillion. These effects disproportionately affect women and girls: multiple discriminations mean that women are more vulnerable in crises and post disasters situations. In view of this, the team wants to raise funds for UN Women UK, and their programmes supporting the economic empowerment of women in rural areas of Asia, more specifically, in countries most affected by climate change, such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and Nepal.
“Imagine a world where all people have equal rights and opportunities. Women and girls are not afraid of walking home late at night, and men and boys are not trapped in oppressive masculinities. A world in which women have equal say in decisions that affect their lives, their bodies, their policies, and their environment, from villages to cities. In this world, gender equality is the norm. Only with the commitment of activist organisations like HER Planet Earth and its fantastic volunteers can we begin to make this a reality. Now is the time to change the way the world works for women,” said Simon Gallow, Development Director at UN Women UK.
Recent HER Planet Earth expeditions have taken all-female teams to remote islands in the Philippines, to new peaks in Antarctica, to the largest caves in the world in Vietnam and to mountains in Iceland and North Kenya. For this next challenge, the team has chosen Greenland, the world’s largest island and an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, because of growing concerns related to global warming and rising sea levels.
The glaciers of Greenland are contributing to a rise in the global sea level faster than was previously believed and the women want to see for themselves the extent of the ice melt, while also meeting with climate scientists and local Inuit people to better understand the gravity of the situation. The big concern for the future is if the giant ice sheets in Greenland continue to melt, this would raise global sea levels by as much as 7m. While all coastal cities will be affected by rising sea levels, Asian cities will be hit much harder than others given their population, economic activity and landmass. Many of the processes that control sea-level rise are amplified in Asia. As a result, about four out of every five people impacted by sea-level rise by 2050 will live in East or South-east Asia.
The Team’s Journey
The expedition will start in Copenhagen with an expedition briefing. The team will then fly to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. With snowmobile support to transfer bags, the team will then spend six days pedalling from the Russell Glacier to the coast through a variety of terrain including steep hills, rocky outcrops and vast frozen plains and lakes. The daily temperatures are expected to be between -10 and -30 degrees Celsius and on their journey, the women may also encounter polar bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, musk oxen and arctic wolves. Starting with the 60km “pinnacle” leg, the women will progress slowly on the frozen fjord before the track becomes slightly hilly. The subsequent legs at 23 to 37km (per day) are relatively short, but can be quite tough when there is fresh snow.
For this next expedition - HER Planet Earth’s eighth to date - the team has chosen to partner, with UK-based company Secret Compass, founded by ex-British military officers of Her Majesty's Forces Parachute Regiment, who are pioneers in adventurous travel leading expeditions to some of the most remote regions on earth.
“HER Planet Earth’s objective is to inspire people to leave their comfort zones, families and homes for a certain period of time, while pushing their limits in an effort to rally support for a worthy cause. At the core of our culture is a commitment to empowering underprivileged women, a passion for adventure and a deep respect and love of nature. HER Planet Earth seeks to take participants on pioneering expeditions around the world, so that they can make new discoveries, flourish as individuals, but most importantly, contribute to society. By travelling in such challenging conditions, the team hopes to bring international attention to the need for societies, governments and corporations to get involved and help support climate action and women empowerment,” said HER Planet Earth Founder and CEO, Christine Amour-Levar
NOTES TO EDITORS
About HER Planet Earth
HER Planet Earth is a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore that aims to empower women as a way to mitigate climate change. One of its core objectives is to inspire more women to become policymakers and agents of change in order to achieve social and economic equity and a healthy and thriving planet. HER Planet Earth organises challenging, often pioneering, and self-funded expeditions around the world to increase awareness on environmental degradation and raise funds for programmes that empower and educate underprivileged women affected by climate change - ultimately helping them build climate change resilience. The organisation partners with nature lovers, environmentalists, scientists, polar explorers, adventurers, women’s rights advocates, corporates, tech entrepreneurs, feminists and charities that have programmes and structures in place dedicated to building a deeper connection between gender equality, genuinely sustainable development and the protection of the environment.
About UN Women UK
UN Women UK is the UK arm of UN Women, the global organisation for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Founded in 2010, UN Women works at every level to create change, from working with governments to change policy and legislation, to empowering business leaders to create inclusive workplaces, to delivering programmes on the ground for women entrepreneurs and survivors of violence. For more information, please get in touch at email@example.com.
The Strategic Importance of Greenland
Greenland's strategic importance has also grown amid increased Arctic shipping and international competition for rare minerals. Arctic waters are becoming more navigable because of melting ice, linked to global warming. The vast island is strategically located between North America and Europe, easing deliveries to many markets. Mining is expanding because Greenland's vast ice sheet has been retreating significantly in recent years.
The team of this HER Planet Earth Greenland 2020 Expedition is formed by 10 intrepid women of diverse nationalities and backgrounds. While they are all incredibly well accomplished in their careers, they are equally passionate about protecting the environment and empowering underprivileged women. To read the team bios please click here.
To donate to the mission please visit the team’s fundraising page here.
To see pictures of the team’s journey:
‘LIKE’ their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram.
For media queries, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
A self-funded team of 12 women from around the world trekked across the phenomenal Laugavegur region in Southern Iceland last week, raising over S$50,000 in the process, for underprivileged women affected by climate change.
The group under the banner of HER Planet Earth, a Singapore-based NGO that promotes female empowerment and environmental conservation, spent a week traversing one of the most active, volcanic and alien landscapes of Iceland, on the very edge of the Laugahraun lava field, an area originally formed by an eruption in 1477.
"We chose Iceland because it is one of the countries already feeling the brunt of climate change. In fact, land in Iceland is rising at an average of 1.4 inches per year in certain areas, as a result of climate change. The melting of the country's glaciers reduces pressure on the land below and allows the surface to rise. This changing geography is another tangible showcase of the effects of global warming," said Christine Amour-Levar, Founder of HER Planet Earth.
During the journey, the all-female team hiked over stunning blue glaciers, black sandy deserts and multicoloured mountains. As they made their way to the heart of this geothermal wonderland, they discovered glittering obsidian lava fields, pristine waterfalls and steaming hot geysers with their bubbling sulphuric acid pools.
The women camped outdoors throughout the trek and experienced a range of temperatures from beautiful sunny days, to cold, windy and rainy spells with 5-6°C temperatures for the most part. Hiking for about 10 hours per day on average, the team covered close to 80km of undulating mountainous terrain, crossing many freezing rivers in the processes. They experienced an ever changing micro-climate, which culminated in the team's early evacuation on the last day, as 51km/h gale-force winds started battering the mountains, forcing the climbers to seek shelter.
What is the issue and why does it matter?
In many countries around the world, women are among the most vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation, partly because women make up the larger share of the agricultural workforce and tend to have access to fewer income-earning jobs.
In the past decade, disasters have led to the loss of 700 thousand lives, 1.7 billion people affected and economic losses of USD 1.4 trillion. These effects disproportionately affect women and girls: multiple discriminations mean that women are more vulnerable in crises and post disasters situations.
In view of this, all proceeds from the expedition will go to UN Women UK, a charity dedicated to empowering women globally by removing the barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential. The funds raised will be allocated to programmes focused on the economic empowerment of women in rural areas of Asia, notably in Bangladesh, Nepal and Vietnam. This will include safe houses for women and girls in these countries, and will be used to send 70 girls to leadership courses, so that they may be empowered and supported to respond to community challenges.
Ultimately, the team wants to use this expedition to highlight that gender often remains the untold story behind climate change. While climate change is a global phenomenon, its effects are felt locally, and poor people suffer the most - among the world’s 1.3 billion poor people, the majority are women.
To see more pictures of the team's expedition to Iceland, please click here.
To make a donation to the team's fundraising page for UN Women UK, please click here.
Expedition Partners: Just Challenge
Teammates: Isabella Ma, Enkhtur Maini, Sabina Wong Sutch, Ada Loi, Barbara Fras, Anne Stauffer, Carole Eeckhaute, Erika Switzer-Masiero, Isabelle Valentine, Christine Hart, Jen Abbey and Christine Amour-Levar
Friday 8 March 2019 (International Women’s Day)
Today, on International Women’s Day, Christine Amour-Levar, Founder of Her Planet Earth and Lucy Bennett-Baggs, Founder of Just Challenge, announced that together they would lead an expedition to Iceland, bringing inspirational women together from around the world to drive change and empower women globally.
Just Challenge & Her Planet Earth invite women from any background, industry and country to join ‘Challenge Iceland 2019’, trekking over 75km through spectacular Icelandic terrain to raise crucial funds for UN Women’s programmes that empower and support underprivileged women affected by climate change.
Lucy Bennett-Baggs, Founder of Just Challenge, says “We are really excited to have partnered with Her Planet Earth on Challenge Iceland 2019. This is the first ‘women only’ challenge we have launched and we are incredibly proud to be leading an experience that truly promotes gender equality in today’s increasingly pressurised world. This is a once in a life time opportunity that not only develops the women that take part, but also raises funds for those much less fortunate than ourselves”.
Christine Amour-Levar, Founder of Her Planet Earth, states “While climate change is a global phenomenon, its impact is not spread across a level playing field. Its effects are felt locally, and poor people suffer the most. Among the world’s 1.3 billion people living in poverty, the majority are women. I am thrilled to partner with Just Challenge on this incredible adventure to one of the most scenic places on earth. Together we will rally a group of dedicated women to raise valuable funds for underprivileged women, ultimately helping them transform their livelihoods so that they can become more resilient to climate change.”
The team of this HER Planet Earth Iceland 2019 Expedition is formed by 12 intrepid women of diverse nationalities and backgrounds. While they are all incredibly well accomplished in their careers, they are equally passionate about protecting the environment and empowering underprivileged women. To read the team bios please click here.
Join their mission and advance the cause of gender equality. Apply for one of the limited places today: www.just-challenge.com/iceland2019
For interview requests with Lucy Bennett-Baggs or Christine Amour-Levar – please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Just Challenge - Just Challenge delivers life changing adventures, for all abilities, with impact and meaning. They provide companies with the opportunities to engage employees, clients and/or leaders through physical challenges. They believe those that contribute to society and nurture their people will be the ones to prosper. Just Challenge designs and delivers bespoke experiences focusing on four pillars; employee engagement, corporate social responsibility, client relationships and leadership development.
Her Planet Earth - HER Planet Earth is a global women’s advocacy movement that promotes a deeper connection between women empowerment and the integrity of the environment. The non-profit organisation, which is headquartered in Singapore, aims to inspire more women to become policymakers and agents of change to achieve social and economic equity and a healthy and thriving planet.
To donate to the mission please visit the team’s fundraising page here.