Pioneers for the Environment

Grace Luckett, Gertie-Pearl Zwick-Schachter, Vanita SharmaSeptember 23, 2016Climate ChangeFeatures

Climate change is a complicated chain reaction of human greed and advancement, which will spiral into the destruction of our home planet.

It was only truly recognized in the mid to late 1900s, but has existed as long as humanity has inhabited the earth.
This change is evident both to the naked eye, as in the melting ice caps of Kilimanjaro, and in less visible ways, such as the growing hole in the ozone layer. Many people have pioneered the movement to protect our planet, and in many different fields, including writing, science, government, and basic social activism.

Rachel Carson, a biologist, ecologist, and writer, is widely acknowledged as the first person to bring the negative effects of human advancement into the view of the public. She wrote five books, the most groundbreaking of which was Silent Spring, first published in 1962 as a three-part series in The New Yorker. Through an alarming investigation, Carson revealed the effects of DDT, a particularly harmful pesticide.

Unlike other pesticides, DDT is capable of killing hundreds of species of bugs, not just the one or two that other pesticides kill. The book described how DDT began to enter the bodies of animals and humans, causing cancer and genetic deformations. Carson explained how, left unchecked, DDT would soon irreversibly harm birds and animals and destroy the world’s food sources.

After her book’s release, the chemical industry led a backlash against Carson and her teachings, comparing a world without pesticides to the Dark Ages, and even went so far as to question Carson’s integrity and mental health. Fortunately, Silent Spring was unquestionable in its reliability, as Carson had compiled 55 pages of sources and notes, as well as recommendations from several experts legitimizing her claims. As a result of her work, DDT was brought under intense legal scrutiny and eventually banned. Many credit Rachel Carson and Silent Spring as catalysts of the environmental movement. Carson brought into question the morality of accelerated technological advancement, and the effect that it had on nature and the health of the human race.

Several years before Carson’s groundbreaking book was published, an accomplished environmental scientist named Roger Revelle began to think about another harmful substance: CO2. Revelle believed that CO2 levels were changing worldwide, so he began to design an experiment to test his hypothesis. In 1957, Revelle had amassed enough funding to hire a young scientist to travel with him to the top of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, a large volcanic mountain, to sample air untainted by industrial emissions.

Revelle began to collect daily samples of air by launching weather balloons, meticulously calculating the levels of CO2. By the early 1960s, Revelle had enough data to create a graph showing the alarming increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, and he began to use his position as a professor at Harvard University to explain and spread his findings. One of his students went on to become one of most recognized and influential men involved in climate change and its integration into American politics, Al Gore.

Gore took the findings and ideas of Revelle and put them into action. He found his love of nature and the environment through his time spent on a farm as child and the comparisons he made between the farm and the city. As a member of the House of Representatives, Gore held the first congressional hearing on climate change and co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste and global warming in 1976. As the 45th Vice President of the United States, Gore pushed for the implementation of a carbon tax. He has written several books about climate change, the most famous being Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit and An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It.

Gore campaigned for president against Republican candidate George W. Bush, criticizing his ignorance of climate change and his lack of action. In 2007, Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

Recently, Gore has been seated on Apple’s Board of Directors and helps to improve the tech giant’s approach to the earth. These are just a small sampling of his achievements and actions. Gore believes that the earth has been entrusted to humanity and it is our job to protect and conserve it.

The activists mentioned here are just a sampling of the many people working towards revitalizing the earth, but we owe them a tremendous debt for being some of the first to call attention to the earth’s fragile condition. Although they have made great strides toward achieving their dreams of a cleaner earth, even more can be done, such as globalizing the use of solar power and reducing carbon emissions on a daily level.

While individuals inspire meaningful change, organizations and movements can also bring climate change to the attention of the general public, encouraging citizens to push for change in their own lives. These groups include established and well-known movements such as WWF and Greenpeace, and younger organizations, such as and The Climate Reality Project. All of the organizations and people mentioned have made strides towards repairing the earth.

While the human race has yet to right the wrongs we have inflicted upon the earth, many men, women, and groups are making valiant efforts to restore the earth to its former greatness.

Grace Luckett


Imagine a baby polar bear standing alone on an iceberg. Can you see its little eyes searching for home? Can you feel the once-fluffy white hair go stiff and brown from the dirt below the snow? Can you guess how much longer this adorable mammal has to survive?

Two weeks. This is what is happening right now to helpless animals all around the world.

WWF, which stands for World Wildlife Fund, speaks for the futures of innocent animals in the wild. It seeks to be the voice for those creatures who have no voice. WWF was founded in 1961 and is working to sustain nature and help maintain the diversity of life on Earth. It envisions a future that is filled with harmony between people, animals, and nature.

WWF works to change the policies of various governments around the world, to reduce consumption of commodities, and to make people think more about how their actions impact their environment. Some campaigns WWF has introduced are recycling, choosing a hybrid or fuel-efficient car, and turning off technology when it’s not in use. It puts out creative ads with wild creatures that have been hurt, which really makes you think twice about how your actions affect the world.

WWF focuses on six key topics: forests, marine, freshwater, wildlife, food, and climate. It hopes to conserve many of the world’s most ecologically important regions by the year 2020.

To support WWF, it is possible to symbolically adopt a creature in the wild and pay for its protection. Saving wildlife is at the core of WWF’s mission. This is because huge populations of animals are disappearing at a terrifying rate. Poaching, habitat loss, and overuse of resources are big threats, and all of these must be curbed in order for the world to thrive.

Gertie-Pearl Zwick-Schachter


Picture looking down from 60 feet in the air as you tape a sign of protest onto Mount Rushmore. Feel smoke fill your lungs as you scream from atop an oil rig about how politicians need to focus on climate change.

Greenpeace activists often perform radical stunts, in the name of their organization, in order to attract attention to the problems of our planet. Founded in 1971, Greenpeace is the largest direct action environmental organization in the world working to protect nature and promote peace worldwide.

Direct action means that rather than working with the government like WWF, Greenpeace advocates through activities so appalling that they cannot be ignored. Some of their activities include painting a message on a sacred Peruvian site, scaling buildings and Mount Rushmore to hang protest signs, openly insulting political leaders and companies, and sending “activist zombies” around the streets of Quezon.

Greenpeace takes action around a few main campaigns: first is its effort to stop global warming. Second, Greenpeace aspires to defend our oceans, forests, and the Arctic. It works towards getting rid of nuclear energy and weapons, and towards creating more awareness about the dangers of toxic chemicals. Lastly, Greenpeace promotes sustainable agriculture.

Greenpeace believes that if we are going to make a change in this world, we have to make it big, and we have to make it now.

Gertie-Pearl Zwick-Schachter

The Climate Reality Project

Did you know that by 2100, our temperature is on track to rise four degrees Celsius? Or that a 2WM wind turbine can power 500 homes?

The Climate Reality Project covers all of these facts. This active organization believes we can stop the forests, icebergs, and snow from vanishing. It offers many opportunities for taking part in the movement. It believes that converting to renewable energy and putting a market price on carbon guarantees us a prosperous future. One of its yearly projects is 24 Hours of Reality, started in 2011. During 24 Hours of Reality, activists aim to educate people on the depressing future climate change can cause and the numerous solutions to these problems.

Another Climate Reality Project initiative is I AM PRO SNOW, which is comprised of winter sport athletes and industries who would lose their careers without sustained snowfall.

“There is no Planet B,” Michelle Parker, a professional freeskier, explains.

Climate change can destroy the future and there is no escaping, but The Climate Reality Project emphasizes everyday solutions to climate change. If people knew, for example, that Colorado snow melts two weeks earlier each spring than it did in the 1970s, some progress would be made.

The Climate Reality Project began in 2006 when former U.S. Vice President Al Gore started a discussion about climate change with his film An Inconvenient Truth. Later, he formed The Climate Reality Project to further the discussion into action.

I find this organization special because it promotes awareness about climate change in a unique and interactive way. From the organization of its website to its hands-on projects, it creates an incentive for people to take action in the climate revolution.

Vanita Sharma is a nonprofit, global climate movement active in 188 countries around the world. Why 350?

The organization’s goal is to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from 400 parts per million to below 350 — the level that scientists have determined is reasonable. Every year, supporters of dedicate one day to awareness and action towards making the future more viable. Infants, kids, teenagers, and adults all over the world participate in this event.

One of’s most fascinating projects involves climate change art, which is visible from outer space. In November 2010, people in countries all over the world formed a figure or symbol recognizable from afar to show their solidarity in the climate change movement. Some people in Sudan simulated running streams in deserts using many blue items, and people in India lined children up to form the number 350. In Alaska, people formed an outline of a polar bear that could be seen by a satellite traveling nearly 400 miles above the earth!

In just five years of its existence, has created a global movement with peaceful protests and educational efforts. offers a creative look at the future and develops an exciting environment for activists around the world.

Vanita Sharma

SOURCES for Grace Luckett’s Overview of Individual Pioneers:

Aldred, Jessica. “Timeline: Al Gore.” The Guardian. Oct 12, 2017.

Gore, Al. An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do about It. New York: Rodale, 2006.

Graham, Steve. “Roger Revelle (1909-1991).” NASA Earth Observatory. 19 June 2000.

Lear, Linda. “The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson: Rachel Carson’s Biography.” Accessed 07 Feb 2015.

Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Story of Silent Spring.” Last modified December 5, 2013.

Nobel Media. “The Nobel Peace Prize 2007.” Accessed Feb 7, 2015.

Grace Luckett is in the 9th grade at Packer Collegiate in Brooklyn, New York. Grace is an avid reader, skier, baker, and singer.

Gertie-Pearl Zwick-Schachter is 13 years old and lives in New York City. She loves to debate, sing, act, read, play guitar, and be with her friends and family. Most of all she loves to write and dance!

When she created this piece, Vanita Sharma was a sophomore at Ridgewood High School in New Jersey. She enjoys playing tennis, reading, taking pictures, learning about astronomy, and Latin. She loves creative writing and writing short stories in her free time.