Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Super Women Who've Helped Save the World

What is Earth Day, Anyway? 

In the United States, the modern environmental movement grew during the chaotic 1960's and has experienced steady growth and recognition to this day.The idea to dedicate a day in celebration of our planet came to founder Gaylord Nelson, a then U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the terrible aftermath of the incredible 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. 

It was the largest oil spill in U.S waters at the time; nearly a 100,000 barrels of oil spilled into the waters and onto the beaches of Santa Barbara, killing thousands of sea birds, dolphins, elephant seals and sea lions.  In a time when the United States was experiencing nation-wide protests by students opposed to U.S. involvement in Vietnam War, Gaylord Nelson was inspired to create a similar movement to protect our planet. He realized he could take the same energy that inspired the anti-war protesters, and turn it into positive results to help save the environment. 

In virtue of this, on the 22nd of April he encouraged near 20 million Americans, including thousands of young people and college students, to take to their streets, parks, and other public centers to bring about awareness of our deteriorating planet. 

The Green Movement has only grown since then, and many times it has been led by women. The following women have shown today's girls that they can be a force for change--and there is still plenty of work left to do!

Super Women

Juliette Gordon Low was always an environmentalist. In her adult years she recalled bringing home stray animals at a young age, and wrote into the original "Girl Scout Leader's Guide""The Girl Scout approach to nature is not through collections of flora and fauna but through understanding of living things, appreciation of their beauty, and conservation of them as they live." Today's girl scouts continue to support this understanding, and across the country are active participants in environmental projects ranging from planting trees, to saving wildlife. 

Dr. Jane Goodall is one of the worlds foremost experts on chimpanzees. At the age of 26 she bravely ventured into the forest of Tanzania where she lived with and studied these apes. Today, Dr. Goodall's work revolves mostly around conservation and inspiring people to save endangered species, but through her work, and The Jane Goodall Institution, she has helped save thousands upon thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, increased public awareness of endangered species and has implemented lasting change that ensures the well-being of chimpanzees and other animals. (Photo: Planet Princeton; Neil Anthony)

Rachel Carson was a scientist who worked for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. Her interests in biology and wildlife conservation led her to write the then controversial book, Silent Spring, in 1962. Her book addressed the impact of pesticides on the environment and quickly became a best seller around the world. She was written off by many labeling her as an "alarmist", but stood strong to defend her research on our fragile ecosystem. 

She wrote many more books in her life, and is accredited as the founder of the contemporary environmental movement.

Wangari Maathai was an activist who worked to improve both women's rights and the environment. In 2007, she was recognized by Girl Scouts and our sisters in the World Association of Girl Guides with the Global Citizenship Award for her humanitarian efforts which helped improve the lives of Kenyans. 

Her efforts to improve employment and the environment in Kenya led her to create the Green Belt Movement in 1977. Since then the movement has planted over 40 million trees across Africa, helping to restore deforested areas and employ Kenyans. 

Before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, she also set up an HIV/AIDS prevention program with Green Belt and the Kenyan Girl Guides Association.

Share with us your plans to celebrate Earth Day, and tell us what you're doing to protect our planet on the GSSJC Facebook page