In 1962, biologist Rachel Carson brought environmental health into the modern era when she published Silent Spring, her pioneering look at the hazards of pesticide use. Before then it was all about what nature did to us, but after Carson we could no longer ignore what we were doing to nature. Though U.S. environmental policy now seems headed the other way, a new knowledge-sharing network will make it hard to forget what Carson and others have taught us. Here are a few of the many citizen groups, websites, and publications that can keep you up to date.
Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly
Named after Carson, Rachel’s is one of the oldest monitors of industrial toxins and their effect on human health. Published in both print and web versions, this no-frills newsletter is a reminder that democratic action is the key to bringing polluters to task.
The Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN)
SEHN has been a champion of the “precautionary principle” in chemical use: Instead of regulating substances after they’ve caused harm, they ought to be proven safe before they’re released. The SEHN website features access to the group’s online newsletter, The Networker, along with essays on ecological medicine, economics, and law.
The Sustainability Institute
The institute applies “systems theory” to environmental issues, the idea being that much of the damage we do to ourselves and the environment can be addressed by repairing flawed social patterns and institutions. Based in Hartland, Vermont, the institute offers workshops, research, and consulting on issues ranging from diabetes to natural resource management.
Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility
This watchdog group has brought new attention to how toxins can damage human development and trigger learning and behavioral disorders. Its Web site includes a guide to “taking action” by acquiring knowledge, recruiting support, and working together for better health.