Urgent Warnings From Conservationists Throughout Time


Table of Contents

Across the centuries, a number of concerned individuals have brought up the topic of the need to protect the earth. From letters of note urging the need for action to warning about what the future holds, the following are some of the most notable letters.

Letters of Note About Action

Action and awareness go hand in hand. Throughout history, there have been calls for awareness regarding environmental dangers that threaten life on earth. This includes a book published in 1962 called Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. In the 1970s, the book inspired millions to create a grassroots environmental call for action.

Predating Carson’s book, a hidden message in a bottle not by Paul T. Walker, of the Department of Geology at OSU in Columbus, OH, warned of the need for environmental action. His missive, dated July 10, 1959, made note of the distance from the edge of a glacier to the rock floor, and requested future visitors to submit their measurements to his department for comparison.

Letters of Note About Pollution

It is widely accepted that the seminal inspiration for Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, came from a letter to the Editor fo the Boston Herald. The open letter was written by Olga Owens Huckins, of Duxbury. Her letter described the aerial mosquito control spraying that she had witnessed firsthand. She describes the use of DDT over Plymouth and Barnstable Counties, and disputes its The claims of Mr. R.C. Codman that the spraying was harmless. Huckins makes mention of the fact that similar spraying in Long Island left thousands of fish in “still waters” perished from the activity. She goes on to talk about the ramifications of spraying in her own small town, where she found that no less than seven song birds had died. In her last line, she uses the term, “tortured earth,” saying that these activities are intolerable.

Letters of Note About Conservation

Throughout history, there have been many notable conservationists who have tried to stand up for animal and land conservation, including Jane Goodall, Theodore Roosevelt and others. Yet it is the humble Joy Adamson’s letter to Mr. Salisbury in 1967 stands out. The author of “Born Free,’ a book that was also made into a movie, made compelling arguments about keeping wild animals captive. Tellingly, she typed her letter on a sheet of paper adorned with hand-sketched images of wild animals in their native habitat, including llamas, lions, zebras, elephants, giraffes and more. She wrote, “ I do not agree that any…wild animals should be deprived of their freedom and sent into captivity.” She goes on to say that she and her colleagues are working hard to preserve the wild animals within their own natural habitats, emphasized in all capital letters.

Letters of Note About The Future

Celia M. Hunter, an environmentalist and pilot who lived in Alaska from the 1950s until her death in 2001, was an activist for environmental protection. Out of 420 million acres, 9 million were protected by a law in 1960, but Hunter felt this was insufficient. She outlines the many risks to the Arctic wilderness in her letter addressed to future citizens. Her tenacious advocacy was successful; by 1980, a new statute protecting 19 million acres went under the moniker “Refuge” instead of “Range.”

French author Jules Verne’s 1863 book Paris in the Twentieth Century, imagined a Paris affected by a global climatic breakdown. However, his editor did not like the book. The text infuriated editor Pierre-Jules Hetzel because he thought it was completely unbelievable. A French library has kept his remarks to Verne in the manuscript’s margin as a historical record of the rejection of climate change.


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