RCC Coasts and Ocean Program

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  • Sanderling foraging on a beach – Cedar Key, Florida
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The work of the Rachel Carson Council on climate change and environmental justice frequently crosses boundaries; it eliminates the edges between issues. Our work in North Carolina, for example, focused first on huge industrial factory farms (CAFOs) jammed with hogs. Our concern dealt with air and water pollution, methane and climate change, the impact of hurricanes and flooding on CAFOs, and the environmental health and rights of those living around and working in CAFOs who are disproportionately poor, African American, and other people suffering environmental, economic and political injustice. Our work led us to the clear-cutting of forests, the destruction of coal ash pits, off-shore drilling, food insecurity, clean water, clean energy projects, both on and offshore, and ultimately to the ocean.

Like life itself and all species, the issues that concern the Rachel Carson Council ultimately connect to the sea. It is where, as Rachel Carson made us realize, all life began and all life returns. Until recent times, the oceans and our shores seemed too vast to be harmed by human intervention and use. Today, humans, in our arrogant belief that we can subdue and control nature and put it to our use, threaten the entire planet, its land and water, and all its ecosystems, including oceans, bays, inlets and coasts near which some 40% of Americans now live, work and play.

Rachel Carson began her writing and her work around the sea and its edges from the rocky coast of Maine to the beaches and barrier islands of North Carolina and on to the coasts and mangroves of Florida and the Keys. It is what she knew and loved best. But as a trained scientist, writer and advocate she also drew on countless scientific studies, colleagues and environmental organizations around the country and the world that also led her, though she traveled little, to concerns for farm workers in California, mothers and children exposed to radiation in the Arctic, and the growing destruction of marine life .

Given the history, mission and capacity of the Rachel Carson Council, our program on Coasts and the Ocean emphasizes the Atlantic Ocean and its large, heavily populated coastal regions, especially those that Rachel Carson knew, loved and sought to protect and where the RCC believes it can make the most difference.

 

Latest News About Coasts and the Oceans

Whales’ rebound in Australia a success story: Duke biologist
A humpback whale, 2002, in Platypus Bay, Queensland, Australia. Photo: Fritz Geller-Grimm/Creative Commons

Australia’s decision to remove humpback whales from its endangered species list is a testament to the recovery of this majestic marine mammoth, a victory that should be celebrated and open the way for conservationists to shift attention on other, lesser known and heavily depleted ocean mammal populations, according to marine scientists. Read more


‘Apathy is one of our biggest problems’: Ocean photographer Shawn Heinrichs wants to save the seas
The images of sea life captured by photographer and cinematographer Shawn Heinrichs have a dual message: we should revere these majestic, yet fragile creatures, but we should also fear the prospect of their extinction.

Heinrichs, 50, grew up by the South African coast: “As a kid I spent every weekend around the oceans — it has more abundance than you could ever imagine,” he recalled. Read more


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