Monday, June 7, 2010

Taking it to the Edge

What a woman, that Rosalie Edge! Mrs. Charles Noel Edge, as she was known among her contemporaries, was not intimidated by anyone when it came to acting on her conscience. She honed her skills in battle when she joined the women’s suffrage movement. She learned to write powerfully and persuasively – in pamphlets, in letters to politicians, to newspapers. Later she took on powerful entities who claimed to be conservationists but mostly acted in their own self interest. We all know that were it not for her untiring efforts the hawks we study today might not have safe passage past our lookouts. But without her many other endeavors on behalf of our environment, the world would be a very different place.

Many of the battles Mrs. Edge undertook and won, need to be fought again today. In a 1935 Emergency Conservation Committee (ECC) publication, Fighting the Good Fight: Program for Conservation Advance in Five Years, she wrote that “beaches were defiled with oil and dead and dying birds.” Yes, that was 75 years ago! We can only imagine her reaction to the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico. Would that this fearless woman were here to take on BP and those more interested in lining their pockets than in maintaining healthy ecosystems. We need a 21st Century Rosalie!

I have learned so much about this intriguing woman who inspired Rachel Carson, among others, by reading Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy (2009 University of Georgia Press), by Dyana Furmansky. I encourage anyone who cares about our incredible planet to read this eye-opening and well-written book.

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