A Brief History
On September 27, 1962, the book, Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson was published. The book dealt with environmental science and focused on the widespread use of pesticides and the disinformation provided by the manufacturers of those chemicals.
Carson made a case that the indiscriminate use of these chemicals was poisoning the environment and killing off many beneficial insects along with the pests. Additionally, many birds suffered ill effects from the pesticides, and Carson projected that one day the birds would be gone, hence the title of the book.
You might have thought a cataclysmic environmental disaster such as the Cuyahoga River burning, the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, or the Love Canal poisoning of the earth might generate a tide of environmental attention, but Silent Spring is generally regarded as the start of the environmental movement, causing DDT and other pesticides to be banned and the EPA to be established.
Question for students (and subscribers): Do the lives DDT saved outweigh its environmental impact? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Mariner Books Classics, 2022.
Spears, Ellen. Rethinking the American Environmental Movement post-1945. Routledge, 2019.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Laura A. Macaluso, Ph.D. of the statue of Rachel Carson in Woods Hole, May 2016, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
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