Setting the Stage
The modern environmental movement didn’t begin with a bang, but rather with a book. In 1962, American biologist and author Rachel Carson published her seminal book Silent Spring, calling attention to the overuse of DDT and other pesticides in the U.S. Carson’s engaging and poetic prose detailing the extreme consequences of these pesticides on the environment and human health captivated the nation, spurring immediate outrage. The controversy increased public awareness, and awoke a nation-wide, grassroots ecological campaign.
Carson’s words helped to ignite the modern environmental movement, ultimately leading to the creation of major national policies, including the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Policy Act, as well as the development of the Council of Environmental Quality. In 1970, 20 million Americans peacefully protested from coast to coast on the world’s first Earth Day, underscoring the intense public demand for environmental regulation and accountability. This same year, President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Earthwatch was born out of a sense of excitement about exploration. We’re a research corps at work, on the frontier of knowledge. But the search for knowledge is not just an adventure. It is a need—both personal and societal. We need to know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. Earthwatch is a testimony to what people—scientists AND non-scientists—can do when they come together in the name of field research and environmental conservation.
Brian Rosborough — an excerpt from the 1981 report “Earthwatch: The First 10 Years.