The Watery Depths of American Environmentalism

Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Rachel Carson, and Sylvia Earle

Authors

  • Amanda M Nichols University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Whitney A Bauman Florida International University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.22947

Keywords:

Rachel Carson, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Sylvia Earle, American Environmentalism, nature spirituality, gender, evolution, Human-earth interrelations, water ethic

Abstract

Legacies of American environmentalism are grounded in androcentric and heteronormative narratives that have downplayed significant contributions by women. A re-narration of American Environmentalism detailed through the lives and work of three pioneering women, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Rachel Carson, and Sylvia Earle, provides a new focal perspective on environmental ethics via a deeper, aqua-centric lens, or what we call a ‘water ethic’. For all three women, their work was informed by deep scientific knowledge of, and sense of felt connection to, their local aquatic environments. They understood humans as part of the interconnected biological ecosystem and drew early connections between local environmental processes and broader planetary systems. Their individual lived experiences enabled them to see the world in a ‘queer’ way, which was markedly different than many of their contemporaries. Analyzing gender and gender nonconformity can help us to understand the importance of a water ethic for a rapidly changing planet.

References

Abbey, Edward. 1968. Desert Solitaire (Tuscon, AZ: The University of Arizona Press). Anderson, Chris (tedchris). 2010. ‘Ocean Hope at Mission Blue: A Collaboration Experiment Comes Good’. TedBlog, 13 April. https://blog.ted.com/ocean_hope_at_m/

Bauman, Whitney and Kevin O’Brien. 2019. Environmental Ethics and Uncertainty: Wrestling with Wicked Problems (New York, NY: Routledge). DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429290503

Baumasn, Zygmunt. 2000. Liquid Modernity (Malden, MA: Blackwell).

Bennett, Jane. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). ‘Brave Mom’s Historic Dive to the Bottom of the World’. 1979. The Star.

Brayton, Dan. 2012. ‘Back to the Sea?: The Terrestrial Bias’, in Shakespeare’s Ocean: An Ecocritical Exploration (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press).

Britton, Peter. 1984. ‘Mainps’. Popular Science.

Bronski, Michael. 2011. A Queer History of the United States (Boston, MA: Beacon Press).

Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (New York, NY: Routledge).

Cafaro, Philip. 2008. ‘Rachel Carson’s Environmental Ethics’, in Lisa H. Sideris and Kathleen Dean Moore (eds.), Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenges (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press).

Caldicott, J. Baird. 2014. Thinking Like a Planet: The Land Ethic and the Earth Ethic (New York, NY: Oxford University Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199324880.001.0001

Carson, Rachel. 1951a. Paper presented at the New York Herald-Tribune Book and Author Luncheon.

———. 1951b. The Sea Around Us. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

———. 1952 [1941]. Under the Sea-Wind. Oxford: Simon & Schuster.

———. 1954. ‘Exceeding Beauty of the Earth’. https://awpc.cattcenter.iastate. edu/2018/01/09/exceeding-beauty-of-the-earth-april-21-1954/

———. 1962. Silent Spring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin). Cronon, William. 1996. ‘The Trouble with Wilderness; Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature’. Environmental History 1: 7–28. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/3985059

Davis, Jack E. 2003. ‘Conservation is Now a Dead Word: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the Transformation of American Environmentalism’. Environmental History 8.1: 53–76. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/3985972

———. 2009. An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century (Athens, GA: University of GA Press).

Douglas, Marjory Stoneman. 1920. ‘I am the Mangrove’. Everglades Digital Library: Reclaiming the Everglades. Florida International University, Miami, FL: http://dpanther.fiu.edu/dpService/dpPurlService/purl/MD00460100/00001

———. 1931. ‘Wings’. The Saturday Evening Post (March 14): 10–11, 74–78.

———. 1947. The Everglades: River of Grass (New York, NY: Rinehart).

———. 1987. The Voice of the River (Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press).

———. n.d.(a) ‘Everglades and the First Reclamation Idea’ [Unpublished Manuscript], Everglades Digital Library: Reclaiming the Everglades, Florida International University, Miami, FL: http://dpanther.fiu.edu/dpService/dpPurlService/purl/ MD00430061/00001

———. n.d.(b) ‘What are they Doing to the Everglades?’ [Unpublished Manuscript]. Everglades Digital Library: Reclaiming the Everglades. Florida International University, Miami, FL: http://dpanther.fiu.edu/dpService/dpPurlService/purl/ MD00350096/00001

Earle, Sylvia. 2012. On Being, hosted by Krista Tippett. 7 June. https://onbeing.org/ programs/sylvia-earle-her-deepness-feb2018/

Earle, Sylvia A. 1995. Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans (New York: Random House Publishing Group).

———. 2009. The World Is Blue: Hoe Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One (Washington, D. C.: National Geographic).

———. 2014. Blue Hope: Exploring and Caring for Earth’s Magnificent Ocean (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic).

———. 2015. ‘Schneider Memorial Lecture’. 7 May. YouTube. https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=U7P-68SHGws

Finney, Carolyn. 2014. Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimaging the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.5149/northcarolina/9781469614489.001.0001

‘Firsts: Women Who Are Changing the World’. 2017. Time. https://time.com/ collection/firsts/4898567/sylvia-earle-firsts/

Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality, Vol 1: An Introduction (New York, NY: Random House).

Gillis, John. 2013. ‘The Blue Humanities’. Humanities 34.3 (May/June). https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2013/mayjune/feature/the-blue-humanities

Gould, Rebecca Kneale. 2005. At Home in Nature: Modern Homesteading and Spiritual Practice in America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520937864

Grunwald, Michael. 2006. The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster).

Halberstam, Jack. 2020. Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/9781478012627

Harris, Melanie. 2016. ‘Ecowomanism: Black Women, Religion and the Environment’. Journal of Black Studies and Research 46.3: 27–39. https://doi.org/10.1080/00064246.2016.1188354 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00064246.2016.1188354

Harrison, Peter. 2015. The Territories of Science and Religion (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).

Hazlett, Maril. 2008. ‘Science and Spirit: Struggles of the Early Rachel Carson’, in Lisa H. Sideris and Kathleen Dean Moore (eds.), Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenges (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press). ‘Hope Spots’, 2020. https://mission-blue.org/hope-spots/

Huggan, Graham and Helen Tiffin. 2010. Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment (New York, NY: Routledge). DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203498170

Jacoby, Karl. 2001. Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves and the Hidden History of American Conservation (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press).

JKE. 1952. ‘Book Review of Rachel Carson’s Under the Sea Wind’. Evening Free Press. London, Ontario, May 2.

Kearns, Laurel and Catherine Keller. 2007. ‘Grounding Theory: Earth in Religion and Philosophy’ in Laurel Kearns and Catherine Keller (eds.), EcoSpirit: Religions and Philosophies for the Earth (New York, NY: Fordham University Press).

Keller, Catherine. 2003. The Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming (New York, NY: Routledge).

Keller, Rosemary Skinner and Rosemary Radford Ruether. 2006. Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America, 3 Vols (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press).

Kidd, Kenneth. 2004. Making American Boys: Boyology and the Ferral Tale (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press).

Krech, Shepard. 1999. The Ecological Indian: Myth and History (New York, NY: WW Norton).

Lear, Linda. 1998. Lost Woods: The Discovered Writings of Rachel Carson (Boston, MA: Beacon Press).

———. 2009 [1997]. Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature (Boston, MA: Mariner Books). Merchant, Carolyn. 2018. Science and Nature: Past, Present and Future (New York, NY: Routledge).

Meine, Curt. 1980. The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution (New York, NY: HarperCollins).

———. 1988. Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press).

Mentz, Steve. 2009. At the Bottom of Shakespeare’s Ocean (New York, NY: Continuum). Midgley, Mary. 2001. Science and Poetry (New York, NY: Routledge).

Mission Blue. 2020. ‘Dr Sylvia Earle Recieves Rachel Carson Award 2017—Jaeren Coast Hope Spot’. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgTkScyxQIs ‘Mission and History’. 2020. National Park Foundation. https://www.nationalparks.org/about-foundation/mission-history ‘Mission Blue’. 2021. https://mission-blue.org/

Mortimer-Sandilands, Catriona and Bruce Erickson (eds). 2010. Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press).

Nichols, Amanda M. 2021. Women on the Edge of Time: Grief and Power in the Nuclear Age (Ph.D. Dissertation: University of Florida).

Plumwood, Val. 2002. Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason (New York, NY: Routledge).

Rafferty, John P. 2019. ‘Sylvia Earle: American Oceanographer and Explorer’. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sylvia-Earle Ruether, Rosemary Radford. 1983. Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology (Boston, MA: Beacon Press).

Saunders, Allen. 1985. ‘Conquering Our Deepest Frontiers’. Popular Mechanics (January 1985): 86–90.

Sideris, Lisa H. 2008a. ‘The Ecological Body: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and Breast Cancer’, in Lisa H. Sideris and Kathleen Dean Moore (eds.), Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenges (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press).

———. 2008b. ‘The Secular and Religious Sources of Rachel Carson’s Sense of Wonder’, in Lisa H. Sideris and Kathleen Dean Moore (eds.), Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press).

Sideris, Lisa H., and Kathleen Dean Moore. 2008. Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press).

Smith, Michael. 2008. ‘“Silence, Miss Carson!”: Science, Gender and the Reception of Silent Spring’, in Lisa H. Sideris and Kathleen Dean Moore (eds.), Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press).

Stevens, Fisher, and Robert Nixon, dir. Mission Blue. 2014. Santa Barbara, CA: Netflix. ‘Sylvia Sails Away with 70 Men, but She Expects No Problem’. 1964. Mombasa Daily Times (Mombasa, Kenya).

Taylor, Bron. 2010. Dark Green Religion: Nature, Spirituality, and the Planetary Future (Berkeley: University of California Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520944459

Taylor, Dorceta E. 2016. The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9780822373971

Von Stuckrad, Kocku. 2019. Die Seele im 20. Jahrhundert: Eine Kulturgeschichte (Leiden, The Netherlands: Willhelm Fink). DOI: https://doi.org/10.30965/9783846764374

Ware, Susan. 1998. Letter to the World: Seven Women Who Shaped the American Century (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company).

White, Carol Wayne. 2016. Black Lives and Sacred Humanity: Toward an African American Religious Naturalism (New York: Fordham University Press). DOI: https://doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823269815.001.0001

‘Women at Sea Aboard the Albatross’. 2020. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/albatross4/women.html

Published

2022-09-20

How to Cite

Nichols, A. M., & Bauman, W. A. (2022). The Watery Depths of American Environmentalism: Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Rachel Carson, and Sylvia Earle. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.22947

Most read articles by the same author(s)