Category Archives: Environmental Issues

Declan O’Rourke Mary Kate

Declan O’Rourke Mary Kate

As much as we listeners might want to skirt the pain and however gently O’Rourke  presents “Mary Kate” to us, it is an arrow to the heart.


Harp dominates. Acoustic guitar accompanies. O’Rouke’s voice holds us by the hand but be forewarned.


Declan O’Rourke Mary Kate

There is hope, but the unnamed sister is at a crossroads. Children should not have to make such decisions. Children should not have to be in a position to make such decisions. No sister, no orphaned sister, should have to leave behind her sister. 

Declan O’Rourke Mary Kate

With Britain’s deliberate inefficient policy to deal with the Great Famine’s starvation, the cold choice to deport the problem became a solution. Deport the young women from the horrors of the workhouse to Australia where Britain had already deported its felons.

Declan O'Rourke Mary Kate
by Unknown photographer,photograph,1860s

Henry Grey, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies came up with the idea that these young women could settle with these felons and make a good wife or a good servant (likely both).

Declan O’Rourke Mary Kate

Records hardly exist about these young women, but we know that the policy,  in reality, forced many of these women into prostitution or abusive relationships merely to survive a different famine.  A famine of hopelessness in an unknown land as far from home as one could possibly be.


And whether any sister ever saw her sister Kate again or earned the money to send for his sister Kate is a story for which you can write the ending.


Declan O'Rourke Mary Kate


 

And Too-ria my Mary Kate

Forever now seet Mary Kate

you won’t see Australia

And we won’t meet in this life again.


Declan O’Rourke Mary Kate

There are those today who are trying to memorialize these young women, trying to have history remember them. (Irish Times article)



 

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Rachel Carson Silent Spring

Rachel Carson Silent Spring

Published September 27, 1962

Rachel Carson Silent Spring

Love of Nature

Rachel Carson grew up in rural Springdale, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) in 1929, studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and received her MA in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932.

During the Depression, the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries hired her to write radio scripts. In 1936 she began a fifteen-year career in the federal service as a scientist and editor. She eventually became the Editor-in-Chief of all publications for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Writer

Carson also wrote articles for outside publication: "Undersea" (1937, for the Atlantic Monthly), Under the Sea Wind (1941). In 1952 she published a prize-winning study of the ocean, The Sea Around Us and in 1955 The Edge of the Sea. 

After leaving government service, she wrote articles designed to teach people about the wonder and beauty of the living world, including "Help Your Child to Wonder," (1956) and "Our Ever-Changing Shore" (1957). The theme that ran through her writings was that humans are a part of not apart from Nature.

 Rachel Carson Silent Spring

After World War II, the use of chemicals to solve problems became increasingly commonplace. The pharmaceutical sector of the economy grew as well as other chemical-related industries. 

Because the immediate benefits of such widespread chemical use were so obviously beneficial, society and science ignored or at least did not consider its long-term impact.

On September 27, 1962 Houghton Mifflin published Silent Spring. In it Carson argued that the long-term impact of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was disastrous to the environment, particularly the egg production of birds in the wild.

Luckily for Carson, the bald eagle is the national bird of the United States and America's sense of patriotism outweighed even the chemical industries outcries.

Gradual ban

In 1967 Environmental Defense Fund [EDF] formed from a grass roots effort to ban DDT from Suffolk County, NY. The organization brought lawsuits against the government to "establish a citizen's right to a clean environment." By 1972, the EDF and other activist groups succeeded in securing a phase-out of DDT use in the United States.

Carson died on April 14,1964 before she saw the success of her environmental urgings. (NYT obit)

Rachel Carson Silent Spring

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Cuyahoga River Burns Again

Cuyahoga River Burns Again

June 22, 1969
Randy Newman, “Burn On”
Cuyahoga River Burns Again
A fire tug fights flames on the Cuyahoga River near downtown Cleveland, Ohio, where oil and other industrial wastes caught fire June 25, 1952. (AP Photo)

Cuyahoga River Burns Again

Now, the Lord can make you tumble,

The Lord can make you turn,

The Lord can make you overflow,

But the Lord can't make you burn.


--Randy Newman

 

             On June 22, 1969, the oil-sodden floating debris on the Cuyahoga River  near Cleveland, Ohio ignited (perhaps by sparks from a passing train) and burned with flames reported up to five stories high. 

          Again.

             This was simply the latest of several Cuyahoga River fires during the century. Although fire-fighters extinguished this blaze in a half-hour or so, it caused $50,000 in damage. The Cleveland, Ohio river (and nearly every other urban industrial river in the USA) had been an open sewer for industrial waste, through the times when factory production and easy release of raw sewage was more important than  their environmental impact.
             Time magazine covered the story. Since Time didn't have a picture of the June 22 fire, it used a picture from June 25, 1952. In its article, Time noted that, " The Potomac left Washington 'stinking from the 240 million gallons of wastes that are flushed into it daily' while “Omaha’s meatpackers fill the Missouri River with animal grease balls as big as oranges.”  [Time magazine article]

             1962's Silent Spring by Rachel Carson had lighted a fuse and it seemed this Cuyahoga River fire, however small and common, had tipped the balance of popular opinion. 


             Like many other activist issues of the 60s, environmentalism had come to the fore.  In exactly 10 months, on April 22, 1970, Americans observed the first Earth Day. An estimated 20 million people nationwide attended events.  Senator Gaylord Nelson promoted Earth Day, calling upon students to fight for environmental causes and oppose environmental degradation with the same energy that they displayed in opposing the Vietnam War. 
             Later that year, on November 20, the Nixon administration announced a halt to residential use of the pesticide DDT as part of a total phase-out.

             On December 2, 1970,  the Environmental Protection Agency began operating under director William Ruckelshaus.

             On October 18, 1972, the Clean Water Act went into effect.
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