Silent Spring, a book that questioned the use of pesticides and is widely credited with stirring a focus on environmentalism in the United States, has its devotees and its critics. The book was penned by former marine biologist Rachel Carson in her White Oak home. It was published nearly 50 years ago on Sept. 27, 1962.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called it "startling and inflammatory," but in a good way. One blogger called the book's criticism of the pesticide DDT "unfounded" and compared the book to Mein Kempf and Das Capital.
Among people that are concerned with the environment, though, Silent Spring was an achievement and continued to be a rallying cry for decreased dependence on chemicals.
About Silent Spring:
From the Natural Resources Defense Council:
Silent Spring took Carson four years to complete. It meticulously described how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals, including human beings, and caused cancer and genetic damage. A single application on a crop, she wrote, killed insects for weeks and months, and not only the targeted insects but countless more, and remained toxic in the environment even after it was diluted by rainwater. Carson concluded that DDT and other pesticides had irrevocably harmed birds and animals and had contaminated the entire world food supply.
About Rachel Carson, according to the Rachel Carson Council:
Born in 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania, Carson was interested in writing and nature as a child. At Pennsylvania College for Women (later Chatham College) she changed her major from English to biology after being inspired by a biology teacher. After graduated, she received a master's degree in marine zoology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Before publishing Silent Spring, she wrote books about the sea, including Under the Sea Wind and The Sea Around Us, a best-seller.
"Her dismay and outrage at the impact of pesticides on human and environmental health forced her to undertake the formidable task of alerting the public," writes the Rachel Carson Council. "Despite learning that she had breast cancer in 1960, she continued the meticulous research that resulted in publication in 1962 of Silent Spring - the lucid and compelling book that inspired the environmental movement."
Carson died in her home in Silver Spring on April 14, 1964.