I work for sustainable ecology, in loving memory of my father who devoted his life to environmentali
My father, Earl Boyer, was born on a farm in northwestern Illinois in 1910 and became a large animal veterinarian after completing his studies at Iowa State University. He worked into his seventies, traveling the rural roads of Stephenson County, tending to the livestock on small farms—a routine that placed him outdoors in the natural elements most of his waking life.
My father, Earl Boyer
Reading Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1963, the year I graduated from high school, changed his life—and mine. Carson had spent years researching the deadly effects of synthetic pesticides such as DDT on wildlife, and her book is credited with inspiring the American environmental movement that eventually lead to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.
As a practicing rural veterinarian, my father saw direct evidence for Carson's concerns and began writing and speaking about the need for citizens to pay attention and get involved. When he found more and more dairy cows suffering from displaced stomachs, he began publishing articles in veterinary journals about the negative effects of both pesticides and antibiotics on livestock. In 1970, my mother died unexpectedly of stomach cancer, and my father was convinced the dramatic rise in cancer rates, all over the nation, was further proof that Rachel Carson’s insights were correct.
Drawing from these life experiences, he became increasingly involved in the fight for environmental sustainability. He corresponded with Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and began speaking and publishing letters to the editor about the links between the growing overuse of fossil fuels, fertilizers, pesticides, and antibiotics negatively affecting public health and degrading the natural world.
He urged people to read the works of French microbiologist René DuBos and Aldo Leopold,
and started giving away multiple copies of their books along with the latest edition the State of the World. I vividly remember going with him, in 1976, to visit Lester Brown at the World Watch Institute in Washington, DC, and discussing how drastically the natural world was deteriorating, further threatening the possibilities of human sustainability.
Lester Brown believes that the survival of humanity and the natural world, as it now exists, depends entirely on whether world media can inform and educate citizens about the dramatic changes they must make in their everyday lives—guided by enlightened environmental policies—to reach sustainability. Reflecting on the advent of Earth Day in an NPR interview, Brown expressed concern about what it will take for people to realize what a danger climate change has become.
To help raise awareness of this issue, my father launched the Boyer Colloquium at Highland Community College in 1994, with an annual Earth Day essay contest and guest speaker addressing the conflicting roles of ethics and economics in the field of ecology. A recent topic was “Understanding and Improving Renewable Energy Materials — From Atoms and Up: Advancing Science to Meet Community Needs.”
Standing with my NOVA Climate colleagues before our first annual Mother's Day Climate Rally in 2017.
Both influenced and inspired by my father and Lester Brown, I have devoted much of my career to media reform and strengthening public service media in the United States, and recently to advocate for greater awareness of the views of David Attenborough about the urgent need to address climate change.
As I’ve become more involved in political organizing over the last decade, I firmly believe raising public awareness about the rising threat of climate must be combined with concerted actions by ordinary citizens to help bring about the changes, both in personal practice and public policy, necessary to avert large-scale environmental disasters.
It is in that spirit that I enthusiastically joined with my NOVA Climate colleagues three years ago to organize an annual Mother’s Day Climate Rally in downtown Fairfax, to encourage citizens to contact their state and local representatives about the urgent need to move towards renewable energy. And this year, for the first time, I made three trips to Richmond to personally lobby for specific pieces of legislation advancing this objective. Please encourage your family and friends to attend the rally this year and become involved. We have to work together to enact real change.