Rachel Carson

cameo_carsonRachel Carson, a writer, scientist and ecologist, grew up simply in the rural river town of Springdale, Pennsylvania. A biologist and writer on nature and science, her 1962 book Silent Spring touched off a major controversy on the effects of pesticides, resulting in a highly publicized struggle between the proponents and opponents of the widespread use of poisonous chemicals to kill insects. She was an opponent. Disturbed by the widespread use of synthetic chemical pesticides (such as DDT) after World War II, Carson warned the public about the long term effects of misusing pesticides.

In Silent Spring she challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, and called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world. She was a woman who almost single-handedly alerted Americans to the dark side of science in alliance with industrial society, and she found herself attacked by the chemical industry and some in government as an alarmist. But she courageously spoke out to remind us that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem. Testifying before the U.S. Congress in 1963, Carson called for new policies to protect human health and the environment. Former Vice President Al Gore credited Carson’s work with prompting the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (although she would likely be disappointed at that agency’s unfulfilled promise.) In 1992, a panel of distinguished Americans declared Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring the most influential book of the past 50 years. (Portions of the preceding text courtesy of www.rachel.carson.org)


“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

“One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?'”

“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.”

“The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and the convenience of man.”


A website dedicated to the life and legacy of Rachel Carson: http://www.rachelcarson.org
From the National Women’s History Project: http://www.nwhp.org/tlp/biographies/carson/carson-bio.html
Ms. Carson’s birthplace in Springdale, PA. Includes information on her life and works, a history of the homestead and visitor information: http://rachel_carson_homestead.myupsite.com/