|Date(s):||January 1, 1962 to December 31, 1970|
|Tag(s):||Rachel Carson, DDT, environmental movement, silent spring|
|Course:||“HIST 3550, American Environmental History,” Auburn University|
Since the introduction of chemicals, such as DDT and other pesticides, the environment had been slowly changing- becoming lifeless and quiet. However, until 1962, many Americans were not fully aware of the extent of the disaster and its cause. Across the United States the sky saw a depletion of birds, the waters flowed with fewer fish, and farmers saw blights as well as illness and death sweep across their livestock.
There may have been no one better fit for the job of alerting and motivating the public than Rachel Carson. She was, as Linda Lear wrote in Environmental History Review 17, " a scientist in love with the English language." Her 1962 book, Silent Spring, painted a picture of a once beautiful and vibrant land being slowly choked by chemicals that, as she wrote, "come from our laboratories in an endless stream." Her passionate argument that mankind's offensives to the environment needed to be halted, including the "contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials," rang clear amongst some of both the United States' public as well as those abroad.
Although some of the United States' public simply rolled their eyes at what they considered to be the emotional rants of an irrational woman, there is no denying that Rachel Carson played a vital role in the Modern Environmental Movement. Her book, as well as her calm and confident demenour following its publication, planted a sense of an urgent duty to protect the environment for future generations in the mind's of the American people- eventually leading to government policies that favored the environmental movement.