One of the faith community’s leading advocates for the environment received a Rachel Carson Award from the National Audubon Society at the Women in Conservation Luncheon May 22, 2012, in New York City.
The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham was recognized for her work in starting and leading The Regeneration Project, which seeks to deepen the connection between faith and ecology, and Interfaith Power & Light (IPL), a national campaign with more than 14,000 U.S. congregations and 39 state affiliates working to mobilize a religious response to global warming. Here’s a video of her acceptance remarks, in which she thanks the staff and leaders of The Regeneration Project and its Interfaith Power & Light campaign.
The Audubon Society gives the Rachel Carson Awards to women who are influential leaders in the conservation movement. Past winners include architect Maya Lin; entertainers Laurie David, Bette Midler, and Sigourney Weaver; philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry; Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis; and oceanographer Sylvia Earle.
The award carries special resonance this year since 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Carson’s Silent Spring, a book that heralded the modern environmental movement and led to a ban on the pesticide DDT.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by one of the leading conservation groups in the nation,” Bingham said. “The prophetic voice of Rachel Carson lives on in the work that our congregations are doing to respond to the threat global warming poses to the integrity of God’s Creation.”
In addition to her leadership of The Regeneration Project and Interfaith Power & Light, Bingham is Canon for the Environment in the Episcopal Diocese of California. She was named one of the top 15 green religious leaders by Grist magazine and is a winner of the Purpose Prize. She also serves on the boards of the Environmental Defense Fund and the Environmental Working Group.
Here are Sally’s acceptance remarks upon receiving the award:
“This is an extraordinary honor and a humbling experience to even be mentioned in the same sentence with Rachel Carson. … Over and around huge obstacles, Rachel Carson saved Americans from the use of a harmful chemical and awakened the world to the damage that pesticides were causing to both humans and animals. She testified in Congress, she went to hearings, and she wrote prolifically about her work.
“Rachel Carson helped us to take an enormous step forward and change forever the way we humans relate to nature. I, on the other hand, was sitting in a pew, wondering how all these folks around me could say that they loved God and loved their neighbor and not practice what they preached. How could you love God and love Creation and not be a leader in the environmental movement?
“Unlike the challenges that Rachel Carson faced, I was blessed that most everyone agreed with me — and the rest is history. This award really belongs to those folks who inspired my work and still, to this day, give me the information that I can carry to the religious community … and you know who you are.
“It belongs, too, to the staff of The Regeneration Project who work with me and the 40 state program leaders who are on the ground doing the work to deepen the connection between ecology and faith. The Interfaith Power & Light Campaign, which is a religious response to global warming, is a group effort — and this award goes to all the participants.
“Mostly I’d like to thank Allison Rockefeller and the Rachel Carson Awards Council who chose me to be a recipient and to the Audubon Society for the work that it does to connect people to the manifestation of God in Creation, and their leadership in environmental stewardship. Thank you … and Amen.”