Kozmetsky Center brings guest speaker to explore environment, faith

Solving global problems is something that St. Edward’s University students aspire to achieve throughout their college experience and beyond.

Environmental author and director of the Rachel Carson Council, Robert K. Musil, visited St. Edward’s on Sept. 23 to explore Rachel Carson’s scientific research — bringing awareness to students about environmental policy actions and health concerns.

First discussing the background of biologist and environmentalist Rachel Carson, Musil delivered a brief synopsis of Carson’s “Silent Spring.” After studying how toxic pollutants were causing a decline in bird species in the atomic age of the late 1950s, Carson discovered that pesticides were having a deadly effect on the different food chains.

“She combined very careful science and became the first popular American to connect the problems with the birds to human health,” Musil said.

Carson then wrote four best-selling books based on her biological studies and fought to have harmful pesticides banned from the United States.

When Carson was bombarded with threatening lawsuits from corporate companies who were not in favor of environmental progress, she testified to Congress about environmental policies, all while taking care of her gravely-ill mother, raising her young orphaned nephew and battling breast cancer.

Musil also spoke of Carson’s faith.

“She believed that science alone was never enough,” Musil said.

He suggested that by having a better understanding of nature, God would grant a deeper passion and awe, too.

“I like how Dr. Musil tied in faith to his presentation in a community that is not necessarily of practicing faith,” St. Edward’s alumni Sara Sopczynski said. “He turned the idea of faith into being positive and passionate, and not necessarily a label.”

Musil’s latest book “Rachel Carson and Her Sisters: Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped America’s Environment” redefines the legacy of Carson and her fellow female scientist colleagues.

Apart from discussing Carson, Musil also discussed his past and how students can get involved with environmental policy.

Current environmental problems students can focus on include global warming, pollution, clean energy solutions, the process of revival in oceans and the lack of sufficient water sources.

“I hope students learn that change is dependent on people getting involved,” environmental science and policy Professor Peter Beck said. “Studying the subject is one thing, but involvement is another.”

Throughout the week, Musil also attended round table sessions, presented at other lectures, held one-on-one conferences with students and staff about environmental research and was also invited to a luncheon with environmentally-interested students.

In regards to the recent Climate Change March in New York City which took place over the past weekend, Musil had some advice for students.

“Each of you can make a global difference, and not just by marching in New York. You can volunteer with environmental organizations and active political groups. You need to use your personal, special talents to network with other environmentalists,” Musil said. “Let’s go forth from here and act as courageously as Rachel Carson did. Don’t feel like it’s too late, or that the government is broken. If enough people show that they care, the government will realize it and make necessary environmental changes.”

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