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Rachel Carson — whose groundbreaking 1962 book, "Silent Spring," exposed the dangers of pesticides — has been credited with energizing the global green movement.

Indeed, says a PBS special about Carson's life and work slated to air Tuesday, the deeply private marine biologist and environmental writer "revolutionized how we understand our relationship with the natural world."

Still, the never-married Carson hardly seems like the kind of woman to be praised over the pulpit by a high-level Mormon authority — and yet that is precisely what happened at an LDS women's meeting in 1989.

Gordon B. Hinckley, then first counselor in the Utah-based faith's governing First Presidency, challenged Mormon girls and women to "make the world in which you live a better place for yourself and for all who will come after you."

He then cited Carson as an example of how to do that.

She "alerted the nation and the world to the hazards of toxic chemicals. She was criticized and denounced for what she wrote but people read and began to realize the dangers that were being created around them," said Hinckley, who later became the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. " ... Public awareness was created. Legislation was passed. Remarkable things have happened in the cleaning up of air and water. Some may feel the regulation has gone to the extreme, as it does in cases. But who can doubt that we and the generations who follow will be the better protected because of the efforts of this woman, trained in her field and bold in her declaration, whose book changed the attitude of millions upon millions in all parts of the globe?"

Hinckley, who died in 2008, urged the female faithful to "stand up. Speak out against evil and brutality. Safeguard against abuse. Keep out of your homes the filthiness of the world, which can lead to such abuse."

His final exhortation was to "rise up in the stature of your divine inheritance."

You know, like Rachel Carson.

Peggy Fletcher Stack

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