The Watery Depths of American Environmentalism
Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Rachel Carson, and Sylvia Earle
Keywords:Rachel Carson, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Sylvia Earle, American Environmentalism, nature spirituality, gender, evolution, Human-earth interrelations, water ethic
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.
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