Silent Spring Turns 55

  • Posted on: 27 September 2017
  • By: msmolins

On September 27, 1962, Rachel Carson's seminal book Silent Spring was published, inspiring a monumental environmental movement and necessitating a closer scrutiny of pesticide use in the United States. Through her work as a marine biologist, Carson saw firsthand the impact of unregualted pesticide use on plants and wildlife. When a friend wrote to her of birds dying around her home, possibly due to aerial spraying of DDT, common at the time, Carson was motivated to share this information with the public. Originally meant to be a magazine article, the research for Silent Spring took four years and Carson's distillation of the scientific data into compelling prose united scientists and gave voice to their growing concerns. Despite being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1960, Carson finished the book and stood up against the fierce criticism after it's publication. 

Silent Spring and the reseach behind it led to vast changes in national pesticide use, most notably the eventual banning of DDT usage, as well as influencing major legislation such as the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, Carson died of breast cancer in 1964 in her Silver Spring, Maryland home before witnessing the full impact of her book. Her home is now on the list of National Historic Landmarks and her work is carried on by the Rachel Carson Council in Bethesda, Maryland,