Earth Day — Score 1 for Rachel Carson

Bald_Eagle_-__Helga__-_Haliaeetus_leucocephalus2Bald eagles make history in borough of New York (headline in The Columbus Dispatch, Sunday April 19, 2015)

By Michael Leach

A pair of bald eagles is nesting in the Big Apple for the first time in over 200 years, according to the Associated Press story.

Rachel Carson would be so pleased with this news.Silent_Spring_First_Ed

The eagles are incubating at least one egg on a treetop nest on the south shore of Staten Island, the city’s most suburban borough. Almost as amazing, bald eagles were spotted this year in the other four boroughs, which includes skyscraper-covered Manhattan.

Not bad considering the entire state had no eagles by the 1960s. Eagle populations across the country had declined so much that the national bird was declared an endangered species in 1978. Last year there were 254 nesting pairs in New York state.

AP reports the comeback is “…largely the result of  environmental protections, particularly the ban of the pesticide DDT.”

Silent Spring, Carson’s 1962 book, documented DDT’s threats to eagles, other wildlife and people. I’ve always considered Carson, who died from cancer in 1964, as the silent spirit behind the first Earth Day in 1970. Her’s was hardly the only cry of alarm about what people were doing to the planet, but her passion, coupled with solid documentation, made it hard to ignore. Carson had a lonely vigil for a few years until popular thinking changed.

Our planet is still in danger from what seems a never-ending list of ills. But this report of eagles nesting in New York gives hope.

Thank you Rachel Carson.

Happy Earth Day.

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