World Pulse

The Unsilent Spring

Jensine Larsen
Posted April 7, 2010 from United States

Year by year, though, my family and I began to detect unsettling changes. Our breathtaking constellation of stars faded as lights from the suburban sprawl encroached, and birdcalls no longer lulled me to sleep on summer nights. One day I found our stream stagnant and rotten, choked with yellow foam. It had become contaminated from chemical run-off from the neighboring farms.

When I began reporting around the world, I recognized a mourning similar to my own in the eyes of women in the Amazon whose sacred lands had been coated in oil spills. The animals they relied on for nourishment had vanished, and their children had become sick with unexplainable rashes, boils, and stomach cancers. In Burma and neighboring Thailand, I met families who had been forced from their homes by military troops to make way for a natural gas pipeline. Many had been forced into slave labor for oil companies. They had been gang-raped and tortured into submission.

Everywhere women are on the frontlines of ecological destruction. As the primary caregivers, providers of sustenance, and agricultural producers, they work most closely with the natural environment and are most impacted by its degradation. Mothers hold contaminated water to their children’s mouths and care for family members with birth defects, cancers, and illnesses due to toxic pollution. Young girls spend their days scouring for firewood that has become scarce. Women farmers find their land eroded by thinning topsoil, baked dry or washed away due to climate change. Just as rape plagues womankind, the rape of the Earth strikes a double punch.

Yet with the most at stake, women have become increasingly motivated to protect the Earth. Millions of modern-day Rachel Carsons are stepping out from the shadow of mining pits, blasted mountains, dumping grounds, and scorched forests to mobilize their communities.

These women leaders are a potent immune system for the Earth. They, and the solutions they bring, are poised to lead the environmental movement into its most formidable chapter yet.

Now it is our job to crank up the volume on these often-unheard voices so that they can become an unstoppable, vibrant force for ecological restoration: quiet no more, loudly roaring and gushing with life.

Comments 9

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Nusrat Ara
Apr 22, 2010
Apr 22, 2010

You are right. We need to raise our voices louder and louder to make an impact. Thanks for bringing it up. You have put in wonderfully.


Rita Banerji
Jun 28, 2010
Jun 28, 2010

It always astonishes me -- with all this self-serving hi-tech living today, how distanced we are from the wisdom Chief Seattle tried to impart: Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it. What he does to the web he does to himself.

Last year I did an environmental survey here in my city. And discovered that 90% of people could not name the biggest environmental disaster in India's history. The Union Carbide gas leak in 1984 killed more than 20,000 people. Today people will know because it is back in the news! Turns out the government of India sold its people in the open market!

But it makes me wonder -- do most of us just sleep-walk through life?

Aug 17, 2010
Aug 17, 2010

You pegged it. Have you read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn? If not, you need to.


Vivian Emesowum
Nov 29, 2010
Nov 29, 2010

I love the tone of your voice. It echoes with passion and concern for change.

Ashley Turner
Apr 04, 2011
Apr 04, 2011

I agree that men, women, children need to come together and speak out against these companies that are not concerned with our well being but the money in their pocket. I live in Portland Oregon, United States and try and make it a point to recycle and try and prevent spills on our coasts. However that only helps a small portion of the United States not the entire world. What are you doing to try and stop these companies? Are you working with any organizations?

Genevieve Akinwumi
Oct 26, 2011
Oct 26, 2011

I live about some seven hundred metres from the Fidrosse Beach in Cotonou, in Benin, yet I hardly go to enjoy this glorious opportunity. What with the blatant abuse of the area and its retaliating offensive offering to visitors. I am pained each time to see that the local government has no active program to protect this beach front. I think reading you now, ideas are churning in my head as to what an organized group of women in my neighbourhood can do to save the beauty of that portion of fidjosse beach. Thanks.

Catherine Clark
Mar 03, 2012
Mar 03, 2012

A Celebration of Women would like to talk with YOU !!!

Please email me, the Founder, Catherine Anne Clark through our contact page.


Thank you,

Catherine Anne Clark

Apr 09, 2013
Apr 09, 2013

Where there is will, there is power and nothing is impossible

Alice Bradley
May 23, 2013
May 23, 2013

Hi Jensine-

Thank you for this article! I really appreciate your final paragraph about "unheard voices" having the power to be a vibrant force for change, both ecological and social.

I'm a college student in Wisconsin now, so I was particularly interested in you description of your neighborhood growing up and the negative effects that you saw from pollution.

In Madison, I'm proud to see many people working for positive change and environmental justice. Thank you once again for sharing your experience!

In Peace, Alice