Who's Environment Day?
There were environmentalists long before June 5 became Environment Day in 1972. And they haven't had it easy since environment became
an acceptable term and the UN created a bureaucracy under it. We take this opportunity to remember them
1. Birsa Munda
Led the people of Chhotanagpur plateau to assert their rights over their land. Died mysteriously in 1900 in a British prison. Icon for tribals
struggling across India for their land and forests.
2. Chico Mendes
Began as a labour leader in Brazil, defending poor rubber tappers against rich ranchers. Soon, he was fighting to save the Amazon
rainforest. Killed in 1988 by ranchers. There still are some rainforests left.
3. Ken Saro-Wiwa
Fought Nigerian government and oil companies like Shell for polluting the lands of the Ogoni people. Hanged in 1995 for his non-violent struggle.
Nigeria is one of world's top oil producers.
4. Rachel Carson
Silent Springs, her 1962 book, changed the way the world saw pesticides and industrial chemicals. The marine biologist faced a sea of
opposition from companies like DuPont, the maker of DDT.
5. Lois Gibbs
In 1978, the housewife learnt that her locality, Love Canal in Niagara Falls, New York, was built on a toxic waste dump. Led the
community to demand evacuation and cleanup of Love Canal.
6. Masanobu Fukuoka
It took a microbiologist in Japan to show small farmers are not stupid. His books, especially The One Straw Revolution of 1978, have inspired
farmers across the world to go organic.
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