EcoSummit 2012 to Salute the 50th Anniversary of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring
International Ecological Summit to Feature Tribute to Late Elinor Ostrum, Keynote Address from Two-Time Pulitzer Winner E.O. Wilson
(COLUMBUS, Ohio – September 6, 2012) – During EcoSummit 2012 the leading voices of the ecological movement will mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s landmark book that is credited with initiating the modern environmental movement.
The weeklong conference begins September 30, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio and to date has more than 1,500 people from 75 countries registered including scientists, economists, policymakers and corporate leaders interested in ensuring the sustainability of natural assets. This is the first time the Summit has been held in the United States.
In the spring of 1962, The New Yorker magazine began serializing Carson’s warning that pesticides were damaging the food chain and threatening our ecosystems. That September, the articles were published in book form as Silent Spring.
Carson argued in Silent Spring that pesticides such as DDT were entering the ecosystem with harmful side effects, including the disappearance of entire species and causing an outbreak of illnesses in humans. The book is credited with the ban of DDT in the United States and motivating the book’s many readers, including President John F. Kennedy, to organize the modern environmental movement. Carson died of breast cancer shortly after the book’s publication.
Professor Sven E. Jørgensen, University of Copenhagen, one of the original organizers of EcoSummit, said this year’s meeting is a fitting tribute to Silent Spring. “What better way to remember the work that made us focus on saving our natural surroundings than to examine our progress and to discuss new ideas for making our world sustainable. I’d like to think that Rachel Carson would be right at home at the summit.”
“Silent Spring started the first green wave and it initiated the need for integrating ecology in environmental management. Several new ecological sub-disciplines emerged as a result: ecological modelling, ecological economy, ecological engineering, use of ecological indicators and system ecology. It became clear that the researchers of these sub-disciplines had to meet to learn from each other and to integrate the scientific results and applications into environmental management. Therefore, we started the EcoSummit meetings with the first conference in Copenhagen in 1996,” Jørgensen said.
The formal recognition of the anniversary will be at a Forum at EcoSummit 2012 organized by Patricia DeMarco, from the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University. Panel members include Professor Volker Hartkopf, director of the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University; Professor Eric Beckman, the co-director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh; Professor Nancy Gift, Compton chair in sustainability at Berea College; and E.O. Wilson, the Harvard University professor who authored two Pulitzer Prize winning books.
DeMarco said Carson’s legacy reminds us how much we have accomplished and how much more is yet to be done. “The American Bald Eagle returned in great numbers after we banned DDT, but today there are more than 100,000 synthetic chemicals in commercial use and fewer than 200 have been tested for human health effects. Over 100 synthetic chemicals, some known carcinogens and mutagens, are found in the bodies of all of us, even newborn infants."
EcoSummit 2012 will explore how innovative, science-based strategies can be used in socially- and culturally-acceptable ways to create, manage, and restore ecosystems. Nearly 2,000 academic papers have been submitted for review at the conference. In addition to symposia and panel discussions, conference participants will be encouraged to take field trips to see first-hand projects dedicated to restoring earth’s ecological diversity.
The Ohio State University, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and the City of Columbus will host EcoSummit 2012. This is the fourth time EcoSummit has convened. The first conference, in Copenhagen, Denmark, was held in 1996, the second in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in 2000 and the most recent was in Beijing, China in 2007.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning biologist E.O. Wilson will kick-off EcoSummit 2012. Wilson is the Pellegrino Research Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator of Entomology at Harvard University. He won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1979 for On Human Nature and in 1991 for The Ants. Fellow Pulitzer Prize winner, Jared Diamond, who will also address EcoSummit 2012, describes Wilson as “one of the 20th century’s greatest thinkers.” Wilson’s address to EcoSummit 2012 is expected to focus on the ecological diversity of Appalachia, which he describes as the second most ecologically diverse area of the world next to the Amazon rainforest.
EcoSummit 2012 will also feature a tribute to the late Elinor Ostrom, the first female to win the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2009 for her work regarding collective action and community-based governance of natural resources. Ostrom’s work has had a long-standing impact on studies of human and natural systems. Her research attention in recent years evolved to focus on complex, coupled human-ecological systems. In pursuit of what she termed “interesting puzzles,” Professor Ostrom was a strong proponent of inter- and cross-disciplinary investigations and enthusiastically took up work in agent-based modelling, ecological systems, complexity theory, network analysis, forest ecology, and many other fields. In honor of her legacy, a panel of her former students and colleagues will share insights about her research agenda and its legacy on the study of environmental systems.
For more information about EcoSummit 2012, please click here.
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