Rachel Carson - Success and Environmentalism
Rachel Carson (1907-64)
American environmentalist (pictured right) whose book, Silent Spring:
- launched the global environmental movement.
- led to the American ban of the pesticide, DDT, in 1972 because of its damage to
Her most famous book
Silent Spring (1962)
The book’s title is explained by birds not singing in the spring because they've been killed by chemicals.
Why was she successful and influential?
She stood up for her environmentalist beliefs (see point 2) despite vicious
She publicized the idea of an ecosystem, in which:
- everything on earth is interdependent.
- nature does not exist for the convenience of man.
“Man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against
himself”, she said.
Her book, Silent Spring (pictured right is the first edition cover):
- made the world aware of man’s damage to the planet.
- inspired others to follow her dedication to environmental improvement.
She challenged mankind “to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of
4. Love of nature
Her lifelong love of nature (pictured right in the woods) was inspired by:
- her mother’s interest in it.
- the countryside around her childhood home in Pennsylvania.
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe around us, the less
taste we shall have for destruction”, she said.
Her determination came from:
She became a university marine biologist (despite great resistance to women in universities).
She battled through several tragedies whilst writing Silent Spring:
- the death of her mother and niece (whose young son she adopted).
- her discovery of breast cancer (which killed her two years after the book’s
6. Learning and purpose
She dedicated her life to:
- saving the beauty of nature.
- finding the truth about man’s effect on it (through her voracious reading, research
To gain knowledge of the sea to write her first famous book, The Sea Around Us (1951), she
sailed in a fishing trawler (pictured right is a publicity photo for the book) .
Silent Spring was inspired by a letter she received from a birdwatcher
about pesticide poisoning.
Key quotes on nature and climate
The road we have been travelling is...a smooth highway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end
One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself: What if I had never seen this before? What if I know I would never
see it again?
The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe around us, the less
taste we shall have for destruction.
Man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.