The Rachel Carson Institute

The Rachel Carson Institute


Rachel Carson wrote of man's relationship to nature from the perspective that every living thing has the basic right to exist. Her argument that we have much yet to learn about how natural systems work still holds truth today. Humans are but one part of the interconnected web of life. Rachel Carson urged precaution in protecting the natural systems of the world. Their elegant complexity forms our life support system. The laws of nature are not negotiable. We ignore them at our peril. Read her testimony to Congress in 1963 for perspective on her work.

The Rachel Carson Institute is part of the School of Sustainability and the Environment at Chatham University the Rachel Carson Institute: sustaining Earth's life support system - clean air, pure water and fertile soil - through research, education and outreach

The Rachel Carson Institute was established in 1989 to honor the legacy of Rachel Carson, class of 1929, an alumna of the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University.) The Rachel Carson Institute within the School of Sustainability and the Environment is an internationally focused center for outreach , education, and research around the principles of systems thinking and multidisciplinary investigation that marked Rachel Carson's work.

Operating as usual


Pittsburgh Earth Day 2020

Tune in tomorrow, Sunday, April 19 at 1:00 P.M. for the Pittsburgh Earth Week Teach-In! Watch live #VoteEarthPGH #VoteClimatePGH 08/09/2019

Metamorphosis- A model for our way forward

Rachel Carson had a special fondness for the monarch butterfly, its complex life journey and its intrinsic beauty. My blog post this month was inspired by metamorphosis. Patricia M. DeMarco August 9, 2019 The monarch butterfly has become an iconic emblem of the need to preserve the environment.  As insect populations decline from loss of habitat due to cl… 12/14/2016

The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority is working to address high lead levels, but misinformation and current testing practices could put residents at risk

Reverse osmosis removes heavy metals like lead. “They are giving the worst possible advice for homes with lead service lines.” 01/31/2015

Patricia DeMarco Ph.D.

Follow my Blog on This month discussing Moving from Awareness to Action. "Live in harmony with nature."

[01/29/15]   The Pittsburgh Premier is SOLD OUT for Power of One Voice. You can see the film at Chatham in the Eddy Theater on February 21, 2015. details are here;
this event is free to students and open to the public with a reservation required.


The Power of One Voice - Rachel Carson - Trailer 2

Please attend the Pittsburgh Premier of "The Power of One Voice- A 50 Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson.

The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson is a groundbreaking documentary examining the life of Rachel Carson and the profou...

[12/26/14]   My wish for the New Year:
May we raise a chorus of strong voices
Pleading to protect the living environment so we can be healthy;
Working together for justice so we can have peace; and
Standing for social equity so we can all share prosperity.

In this Season of sharing thanks and blessings among those we care about, I thank all of you my Colleagues and Friends for all you do to make the world a better place!

Patricia DeMarco 12/09/2014

Patricia DeMarco Ph.D.

For information and resources regarding National History Project, people interested in Rachel Carson may contact Patricia DeMarco at Also note the new film "The Power of One voice- A 50 Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson" showings on December 18, 2014 in Shepherdstown W VA at the National Conservation training Center and on January 29, 2015 at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh info at "Live in harmony with nature."


The Rachel Carson Institute's cover photo 11/29/2014

Patricia DeMarco Ph.D.

See my current activities on
Register for the screenings of "The Power of One Voice- A 50 Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson" December 18, 2014 at the National Conservation Training Center and January 29, 2015 at The national Aviary in Pittsburgh "Live in harmony with nature."

[02/18/14]   Now a Chatham Senior Scholar, I am writing a book based on Rachel Carson's environmental ethic to be titled "Pathways to Our Sustainable Future" Rachel Carson's work set out principles for taking precaution in protecting the living Earth from destruction; principles for connecting people to the natural world and valuing the ecosystem services we depend on for our life support.
Let me know if you are interested in sharing your vision for the future.

[10/23/12]   Dear Colleagues:

I share with you some of Rachel Carson’s observations that shook the world 50 years ago:

“For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.”(Silent Spring p. 15) Rachel Carson was referring here to the accumulation of pesticides after a mere two decades of widespread use. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention perform bioassays on statistically representative samples of our population, including newborn infants, documenting the accumulation of hundreds of synthetic chemicals in our bodies, including at least 79 known mutagens and carcinogens. While Rachel Carson’s voice raised in objection to the blatant broadcast of poisons was effective in bringing change to the gross pollution of air, land and water rampant up to the early 1970’s, the more insidious contamination from toxic chemicals persists. Her message of caution in preventing exposure of the living earth to synthetic materials whose ultimate effect is not known has not been encoded in law here…not yet.

The work initiated in Silent Spring remains as the most challenging need of our time – to live in harmony with natural laws, to preserve our life support system on this Earth – fresh air, clean water, fertile ground and biodiversity of species with whom we share this living planet. The arrogant assumption that we can control nature, subjugate it to our immediate benefit and exploit it indefinitely must be challenged if we are to survive at all. Rachel Carson’s challenge in the closing chapter of Silent Spring speaks to all of us today:
“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress at great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road – the one “less traveled by” – offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth.” (Silent Spring. Page 277.) In January 1963, in a speech to the Garden Club of America, Rachel Carson gave “A New Chapter to Silent Spring” in which she said: “The battle for a sane policy for controlling unwanted species will be a long and difficult one. The publication of Silent Spring was neither the beginning nor the end of that struggle. …. We should be very clear about what our cause is. What do we oppose? What do we stand for?”

The study of environmental science, environmental health, sustainability, renewable energy systems, organic gardening and green chemistry offer many productive pathways forward to a system of living and running our economy that does not continue the path of destruction. The next phase of the environment movement that Silent Spring helped to launch must focus on what we stand FOR. We can articulate the solutions to our past pathway, illustrating a new way forward to preserve a living earth for ourselves and the generations that come after. Rachel Carson changed the world’s thinking about our relationship to the environment. Her one strong voice through the written word moved our entire culture. We are her living legacy. Be bold to add your own voice to meet the challenge of the 21st century with her preparedness, passion and courage.

Best regards,


Live in harmony with nature. 10/23/2012

Rachel Carson's Prescience - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education As "Silent Spring" turns 50, the environment is in even more peril than Rachel Carson feared. 10/02/2012

Register | Rachel Carson Legacy Conference | Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA

The 2012 Rachel Carson Legacy Conference : Our Planet and Our Health - The Impact of Silent Spring after 50 Years.
Keynote speaker FrancescaSantoro from UNESCO in Paris gives a perspective from the Interovernmental Oceanographic Commission. The American Chemical Society designates Silent Spring as a National Historic Chemical Landmark.
You do not want to miss this one! Register NOW! Rachel Carson's bookSilent Spring, published 50 years ago in 1962, brought global attention to the consequences of unrestrained use of toxic pesticides such as DDT. Among the actions taken in response to her work was a ban on DDT by the newly formed environmental Protection Agency in 1976, over a de...


Visit the Fish & Wildlife Service on-line book discussionof Silent Spring. I am moderating this week, so join the discussion. What do you stand FOR as an environmental advocate?

[10/02/12]   At the 4th International EcoSummit in Columbus Ohio, Dr. E.O.Wilson joined our Forum honoring Rachel Carson. He shared some stories, and challenged all of us: "Save the living environment and you will save the physical environment, but if you only save the physical environment, you will lose them both." He admonished us not to be afraid to speak out for our convictions. Rachel Carson's question "What do we stand for?" needs our attention.


For a Section by Section summary of the Safe Chemicals Act, See the Environmental Working Group summary here. THEN CALL YOUR SENATOR

[07/24/12]   From Women for a Healthy Environment:

We have great news to share! This week brings lots of exciting activities related to the Safe Chemicals Act and protecting our health and the environment!

Today Women for a Healthy Environment (WHE) participated on a conference call that summarized findings of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families new report "Chemicals and Our Health." This report highlights significant peer-reviewed research on the role chemicals play in the rising incidence of certain types of cancer, reproductive harm, infertility, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, learning disabilities, and asthma. Results continue to be alarming. Researchers conservatively estimated that the annual cost of environmentally-attributed diseases in American children was $76.6 billion per year, or 3.5% of U.S. health care costs, in 2008.

Tomorrow the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee will hold an oversight hearing on toxic flame retardant chemicals that were the subject of a scathing investigation in the Chicago Tribune this May. The investigation revealed the chemical manufacturers' campaign to cover up health concerns with the chemicals and falsify testing data. You can follow this link to view the hearing.

And last, but not least, on Wednesday, July 25th the Senate EPW Committee will hold a vote on the Safe Chemicals Act for the very first time! Please contact your Senator today and ask for support of the Safe Chemicals Act. This is the single biggest step we can take to demand laws that better protect our health and environment! We need Senators to know you support the Safe Chemicals Act and want them to vote to protect our health.

The current federal law addressing chemicals is failing to protect public health, our communities and our environment. Many thanks for your continued support and for taking action.


Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis
Executive Director
[email protected] |
Women for a Healthy Environment | 1405 Shady Avenue | Pittsburgh | PA | 15217 07/24/2012

Climate Mamas and Papas

Meet Joylette Portlock, one of the speakers at the Silent Spring at 50 Symposium last May. Her work is an inspiration to us all. Climate Mama Feature 07/11/2012

Allegheny County Health Department HOME

The Alleghy County Health Department Task Force on Air Toxics Guidelines has submitted its recommendation to the ACHD today. They are taking comments for 30 days on the proposed update to the 1988 guidelines. See for the full text of the final recommendation.

Key features are: A science-based reference standard for health risks based on continuously updtaed data from the EPA, IRIS database, the California health standard and an occupational safety standard; the guideline allows for evaluating cumulative impact of pollutants, not just one chemical at a time; and allows for offset options that give industry more flexibility and permits reductions in mobile sources. The policy makes a continuous improvement of air quality a priority for Allegheny County. ACHD's goal is to assure quality public health services, promote wellness, and protect Allegheny County's citizens from harmful effects of environmental hazards.

[07/10/12]   Dear Colleagues and Friends:
The Rachel Carson Institute in partnership with the Office of Career Development at Chatham University hosts a series of lectures profiling business leadership in sustainability. We began this series last year with lectures that addressed individual pathways to sustainable careers. This year, we are looking at working examples of successful businesses large and small that have applied sustainability principles in their business model. These companies are leaders in their fields. They will share their successes and challenges. Each session will have a presentation plus time for questions and dialogue.
The confirmed dates and speakers for Fall 2012 are:
September 18, 2012 – Ava DeMarco, President, LittleEarth Products
October 16, 2012 – Kris Koch, COO, G-TECH Strategies
November 13, 2012- Lalit Chordia, President- Thar Industries
December 11, 2012 – Christine Mondor, Principal, evolve: environment::architecture
All sessions take place from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM on Tuesdays in the Welker Room of the McLaughlin Music Hall of the Chatham University Shadyside campus.
Lectures are open to the public for a fee of $25.00. Admission includes refreshments
R.S.V.P. to the Office of Career Development at 412 365-1209, or by e-mail at
If you are interested in sponsorship for this series, contact Patricia DeMarco [email protected]

[05/03/12]   The Perspectives on Silent Spring at 50 Symposiumis coming up on May 11-12, 2012. Do not missthese unique features of this once in a lifetime event:
the American Bald Eagle- back from the brinkof extinction
Rachel Carson's rebuttal to her critics- in her own words-her speech to the Naitonal Women's Press club in 1962
custodians of her legacy; her adopted son Roger Christie, her biographer Linda Lear, the fish and Wildlife Service Historian Mark Madison, and the manager of Chncoteague national wildlife Refuge.
Pulitzer Prize winning author Scott Weidensaul, and many other artists and writers. Register today: 03/23/2012

Earth Day 2012 | April 22, 2012 | Mobilize the Earth | Earth Day Network

We are doing Earth Day 2012 in Pittsburgh: 2WheelsNot4 Bicycle Parade for Clean Air!
See other options around the world here. Invent your own, make a commitment to be involved in being a responsible citizen of the Earth. Transportation emissions account for a large part of the greenhouse gas problem. Think about your options before you get in your car. Can you walk within a mile? Take a bike within 5 miles? Ride public transit within reach? Put your mind in gear before you turn the ignition! Learn about Earth Day 2012, which will take place around the earth on April 22, 2012. Attend a local event, join a campaign and pledge your Act of Green. 03/08/2012

New Infographic! GMOs -- We Have a Right to Know! Just Label It Do you believe we have a right to know how our food is produced? Check out the new infographic about genetically engineered foods from the Just Label It campaign and see why over 900,000 Americans have contacted the FDA. 03/08/2012

Register | Perspectives on Silent Spring at 50 | Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA Chatham University's Rachel Carson Insitute, in partnership with the National Aviary, will present a symposoium on the impact of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring on conservation of wirldlife and the future of conservation and preservation of biodiviersty. The role of birds as harbingers of the state o... 03/08/2012

Downwind: Big Ag at Your Door Organic farmers are leading a movement to challenge the aerial use of pesticides on nearby land, saying that the chemicals are carried on the air over great distances. Frustrated by years of government inaction, they are turning to independent analysis to produce startling findings about the chemica...

[03/08/12]   Chemical Fallout

Warning: Dangerous chemicals are common in every day products, including food containers. And government has been slow to protect consumers from those dangers. Indeed, in the case of Bisphenol A, federal government regulators long sided with the chemical industry in declaring BPA safe - despite independent studies that repeatedly documented danger to children and adults. The government about-face in January of 2010 came only after years of investigations by the Journal Sentinel. Read original series: Part 1 |




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