Tag: Environment

Introducing a hero — Mary Scott Skinker

Mary Scott Skinker helped change our world, but most of us have never heard of her. She started by changing Rachel Carson’s world, who then rocked the whole world. And most of us do not know of Carson today either.
 
Mary Scott Skinker died sometime in the 20th century; I’m not sure when. She does not have an entry in Wikipedia, but she does have a phrase. “At the urging of her [Carson’s] undergraduate biology mentor Mary Scott Skinker, she settled for a temporary position with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. . . .”
 
Rachel Carson, who does have an entry in Wikipedia. Read this three-paragraph intro, especially the third one:
 
“Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.
 
“Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award. . . Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. This sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life from the shores to the depths.
 
“Late in the 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially some problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was the book Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people. Although Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. It also inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.”
 
Mary Scott Skinker leads to Rachel Carson, who leads to a world concerned about the environment, and rightfully so.
 
I think most of us feel pretty “small” much of the time. We will never have an entry in Wikipedia or any other pedia. But we can be a Mary Scott Skinker to someone. We can encourage, educate, help, promote, and encourage some more.
 
We may be lifting up the next Rachel Carson or the next Mary Scott Skinker. We need each other. And the ones who leave big marks on history need the “little” ones of us to help them.
 
I once wanted to be a Rachel Carson. Now, I would settle for being another Mary Scott Skinker.

No doubt about climate change

2012-12-05 Climate Change 135877852 FFClimate change should be obvious by now. The vast majority of scientists in the field have been certain of it for some time now, while some of us regular folks haven’t known what to think.

The super storm that struck the New York City area is like an exclamation mark on the scientific statements regarding climate change. “Things are different now,” the storm seemed to be saying. This has been what scientists have been warning us will happen.

It is important to use the term “climate change” and not “global warming” because the latter term can lull one into thinking if “my temperatures” are not getting hotter, then this must all be a bunch of hogwash. “Climate change” indicates a broader, more subtle phenomenon.

With that stated, I never remember a Texas fall like this one. I have no idea if this weather has been a result of climate change or not, but it’s strange when you can wear a t-shirt to a Christmas parade and not even be cool. There always are some Indian Summer type days, but we have had unbelievably pleasant weather in Texas for weeks.

Rising sea levels seem to be one of the biggest concerns. A great New York Times page shows what land around major U.S. cities would be “permanently flooded, without engineered protection” if the seas rise to varying levels. Galveston doesn’t fare well.

Climate change should not be a political issue, and there is no need to argue about the degree of human causation. Global temperatures are rising, and we are going to have to do everything possible to stem the tide, literally.

And this is not just about protecting American cities; millions of the poorest people in the world would be displaced by rising sea levels. We will not just let them die; we will have to help them move to safety.

In 2006, messengers to the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas passed a resolution on environmental stewardship. It noted that “the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1) and that “we are called by God to honor the goodness of creation and to secure its well being” (referring to Genesis 1 and 2). The messengers understood that “the earth’s air, water, soil, and inhabitants are increasingly threatened by environmental degradation” and that “our failure to address adequately environmental degradation threatens generations present and future.”

In short, this planet of ours is God’s creation and God has called us to care for it. This requires action. As the 2006 resolution said, we need to “practice faithful stewardship of the environment in concrete ways in our churches and in our everyday lives and that we advocate for sound environmental policies in the public square.”