Carson's great love of both writing and nature emerged at a young age and enabled her to overcome numerous obstacles in her life. She made a critical decision to switch her major in college from English to biology, she suffered financial problems during the Depression, and family and work responsibilities left her little time to write. She struggled for years to become a writer, working in relative obscurity for 15 years at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service writing pamphlets and brochures. She also endured harsh criticism of Silent Spring toward the end of her life while terribly ill. This biography shows how Carson overcame these difficulties and persevered to become one of the most influential writers of the last half of the 20th century. Her legacy as a champion of nature continues 50 years after her death.
Later, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Brown emphasized the need for systemic thinking. In 1963 he did the first global food supply and demand projections to the end of the century. While on a brief assignment in India in 1965, he pieced together the clues that led him to sound the alarm on an impending famine there. His urgent warning to the U.S. and Indian governments set in motion the largest food rescue effort in history, helping to save millions of lives. This experience led India to adopt new agricultural practices, which he helped to shape.
Brown went on to advise governments internationally and to found the Worldwatch and Earth Policy institutes, two major nonprofit environmental research organizations. Both brilliant and articulate, through his many books he has brought to the fore the interconnections among such issues as overpopulation, climate change, and water shortages and their effect on food security. His 1995 book, Who Will Feed China?, led to a broad restructuring of China’s agricultural policy. Never one to focus only on the problem, Brown always proposes pragmatic, employable solutions to stave off the unfolding ecological crises that endanger our future.
Carver had a truly prolific career dedicated to studying the ways in which people ought to interact with the natural world, yet much of his work has been largely forgotten. Hersey rectifies this by tracing the evolution of Carver's agricultural and environmental thought starting with his childhood in Missouri and Kansas and his education at the Iowa Agricultural College. Carver's environmental vision came into focus when he moved to the Tuskegee Institute in Macon County, Alabama, where his sensibilities and training collided with the denuded agrosystems, deep poverty, and institutional racism of the Black Belt. It was there that Carver realized his most profound agricultural thinking, as his efforts to improve the lot of the area's poorest farmers forced him to adjust his conception of scientific agriculture.
Hersey shows that in the hands of pioneers like Carver, Progressive Era agronomy was actually considerably "greener" than is often thought today. My Work Is That of Conservation uses Carver's life story to explore aspects of southern environmental history and to place this important scientist within the early conservation movement.