Earth Day and the 50th Anniversary of Silent Spring

Rachel Carson…she’s one of my heroes.   This year for Earth Day (April 22, 2012) it is fitting to honor the 50th anniversary of Rachael Carson’s book, Silent Spring.

Rachael Carson

This book moved the world by heightening our awareness of the environment and the affects of indiscriminate use of pesticides.  It ushered in the modern era of environmentalism and caused the eventual ban of DDT, an organochorine insecticide.

DDT is a chemical that persistently bio-accumulates up the food chain; it is linked to causing cancer in humans and wrecks havoc in the environment.  The American Bald Eagle almost became extinct as a result of DDT.

Ironically the chemist that synthesized DDT was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1948 because it was very effective in killing the insects that caused malaria and typhus.  It was used everywhere for any insect problem.  No one knew at that time that it would bio-accumulate up the food chain or cause cancer.

Silent Spring was published in 1962.  It was an environmental awareness tsunami that ignited the public in natural resource conservation.  This movement eventually led to the passage of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, the first Earth Day in 1970 and many other environmental milestones that protect our natural resources including HUMANS.

Carson testified before Congress in 1963 about the indiscriminant use of DDT and its effects on humans and the environment.  She was in a battle with cancer herself and died in 1964 at the age of 56.  She was a courageous champion for human rights and the environment.

Environmental awareness has continued to grow ever since Silent Spring was published and it has never been greater than it is today.  Environmental Science and Conservation Biology were unheard of in 1962.  Now, these are standard curricula in high schools and universities throughout the world.

When I was a child there were rivers so polluted they were declared “fire hazards”.  Today there are no rivers in this country that are “fire hazards”.  Our rivers and streams are much cleaner than they were in 1962; back then, waste water treatment only removed solids.  Today, in many states such as Virginia, we have the best sewage treatment in the world which not only removes solids but kills bacteria and removes nutrients as well.

Fifty years ago we never heard of fencing cattle out of streams or “open space easements”.  Today, thousands of miles of streams have been fenced off from livestock, millions of trees have been planted along those streams and most states have farmland protection programs.  In Virginia over 600,000 acres of farmland have been protected from development voluntarily with a myriad of incentives.

There are now whole watersheds completely covered with agricultural Best Management Practices making their streams clean enough to stock with native trout.  Poague Run in the city of Staunton,Virginia is one shining example.

Fifty years ago we never heard of “nutrient management”.  Today, every poultry operation in Virginia and every “Confined Animal Feeding Operation” (as defined by EPA) in the country has a nutrient management plan.  Agriculture, in the Chesapeake Baywatershed has achieved half of its nutrient reduction goals to restore the Bay.  This is a great start for restoring the Bay.

Carson opened our minds with Silent Spring and today, pesticide development, release and sale is regulated.  Environmental groups today have “standing” in court; fifty years ago non-profit organizations did not.  Through the efforts of environmental groups DDT, 2,4,5-T (agent orange), Furadan, Chlordane and Toxaphene have all been taken off the market because of persistent bio-accumulation, toxicity and harmful effects to humans and the environment.

The populations of Bald Eagles, Eastern Bluebirds, Atlantic Puffins, California Condors, the American Bison and many more have come back because of grassroots environmental efforts.

We have thousands of public parks, natural areas and forests to manage and enjoy.  We also have tens of thousands of grassroots organizations like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Friends of the River organizations, Land Trusts, the Wildlife Center of Virginia and 3,000 local Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the country.  All of this makes a huge difference and all the efforts of individuals from teachers to volunteers make a huge difference because stewardship can only happen…through people.

We have many issues ahead of us, big ones too like global warming, food insecurity and restoring the nation’s largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay.  I think everyone would agree that we are moving in the right direction; it’s not at the pace we’d like, but nonetheless, we are moving in the right direction.

Let’s keep up the good work, accelerate our pace, set our goals higher and celebrate the wonderful things we have done to improve the natural resources in our care.  Working together we can and do make a difference.

Rachel Carson, thank you for opening our minds and helping us move forward.



  1. George Ohrstrom says:

    That is a very nice tribute to Rachel Carson and her long-standing affect on the environmental movement.
    There is something you may not know however, DDT is now being championed again to kill mosquitoes in third world countries, and it’s estimated that if used properly it could save millions of people from malaria and other diseases. It has to be sprayed indoors, and used in conjunction with mosquito nets, but there are lots of organizations out there trying to lift the ban. See Africa Fighting Malaria among others.
    I’m not in any way advocating for it’s use, I just bring it up as information.
    Again, Thanks for posting the tribute to Rachel Carson……It’s impossible to express the gratitude we all owe her. George

    • Natalie Stickel says:

      Prof.- what a beautifully written tribute! I have never read Silent Spring, and now I am inspired to put it and the Sand County Almanac on my list.

      As for the above comment, this is atrocious news! Malaria has all but been eradicated in a number of countries it once scourged. The organizations advocating a lift on DDT’s ban should instead focus their energy on formulating inexpensive, healthy, and environmentally-conscious malaria solutions. As demonstrated in this blog post, DDT is outdated technology. In 2012, we should not be backtracking; we should be past the point of resorting to dangerous chemicals for fighting pests and diseases.

    • Asa Nienstadt says:

      I think it is fascinating how Rachel Carson’s individual efforts to better the environment inspired radiating acts of environmental stewardship. In the United States and Virginia much progress has been made in protecting the environment. The author notes that flammable rivers have disappeared in his own lifetime. With DDT being such a respected and commercialized chemical at the time, it was risky for Rachel Carson to campaign against it. DDT was hailed as a wondrous chemical for ubiquitous use. It makes you wonder what other chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis that may be toxic. Shampoos, toothpastes, lotions, long ingredient lists, pesticides, acid rain, oxygen poisoning, chemtrails, aliens… etc… nothing is safe.

  2. Grace Caudle says:

    I think what we have learned from the problems caused by DDT give great stake to the idea that we must always be cautious when using new chemicals in any capacity. Even though DDT seemed like a great new invention at the time when it was originally created, it has caused many, many problems that are worse than the original problem it originally tried to eradicate.

    • Sara Guthrie says:

      I had the same thought as Grace when I was reading through this post. This article made me wonder what chemicals there are now that we use without caution that we will later find out to be harmful. I think we should be more aware of the chemicals in the products we use and the effects that they could have on us. The U.S. allows for an alarming amount of chemicals to be present in the products we buy compared to other places such as European countries. They take a more precautionary approach where I feel like we allow the use of something until it goes wrong which can lead to irreversible damage to our environment and health.

  3. John Samaha says:

    This is very well said. I completely agree that we are moving in the right direction slowly but surely with big thanks to Rachel Carson. This is part of why I’ve enjoyed focusing on the environment in ISAT because it will only get bigger and better. If we’ve made this much progress over the past 50 years, I can’t imagine what will happen in the next 50 years to come. It will be interesting that’s for sure.

  4. James Schavel says:

    I had no idea how much of an impact the book Silent Spring had on modern society…I have to admit I have not read it yet. But now I will have to move it up to the top of my list. Seems like Rachel Carson has not gotten the acknowledgement she deserves! Hopefully everyone can appreciate her dedication.

  5. Jennifer Pensa says:

    Rachel Carson definitely made a significant impact when discussing the environment. She started the whole movement and made the public more cautious and aware of pollutants and contaminants that were, and still are very prevalent in the air today. I agree that we are moving in the right direction, but we need to continue to focus on keeping our earth and environment clean and safe.

  6. Kettie Holland says:

    Rachel Carson is also one of my heroes! It is so interesting how humans cans spray pounds and pounds of chemicals, understand the ecological issues associated with the chemical and can still spray them. Carson did an amazing job observing the effects of this harmful chemical and speaking her mind on how it negatively effects the environment. I will forever respect this woman and always find her as an environmental inspiration.

  7. Sarah Lockwood says:

    I love this tribute to Rachel Carson. As much as her career has inspired my journalism career path, I have never been able to get through my copy of Silent Spring. It’s really technical, which is of course how she proved all of her claims against DDT. This class has really made me want to give the book a crack again this summer and maybe her other novel as well!

    I agree that she initiated one of the great swells in the environmental movement and that we’re on the right path, but we’re at the point where we shouldn’t need big collapses and disasters to know that the science is right. And yet it seems that that’s what the public needs to get it into their heads. I wish we were at the point where environmental values are not part of a “movement” but of the mainstream public agenda. I don’t think we’re quite there, but you’re right: we’re on the right path. We just need a little more weight on that gas peddle.

  8. Christopher Keys says:

    I know that this book had such a great impact on the environment and is still relevant today. But I was just wondering if there was any modern day books or authors that have written anything comparable to what Carson wrote. If so what are the books called and who are the authors.

  9. Peter Bonsall says:

    Is DDT still used in malaria prone countries? I read or heard somewhere that DDT was still sprayed on the walls. Another question is how much DDT can be sprayed to help combat pests but still be harmless to humans?

  10. Michael Brasch says:

    Excellent post! I like how you reflected on the past fifty years of environmentalism and the benchmarks we have reached. Rachel Carson sowed the seeds of the environmental movement and had a major impact on the health and quality of our natural resources. Her work will continue to be inspiring for generations to come. I hope the next fifty years bring about unsurpassed changes in how we protect and utilize the environment, natural resources, and energy.


  11. This is a nice reflection on an amazing person and the movement she help propagate. Silent Spring was such a well played and well articulate blow to a relatively ignored blunder. Whats more amazing is that her argument was untouchable. She stood against corporate giants who were making tons of money off of the chemicals contained in DDT and its counterparts. As a result much she pulled up the curtain on environmental and social negligence and exposed it to the world.

    I like how you frame her as a driver in the shift of the way we regulate in relation to the environment. The United States has come a long way in improving environmental regulations. The downside is that we have a long way to go in a short amount of time if we want to successfully undo some of the damage that has been done.

    I have enjoyed reading your blog all semester. I look forward to following it in the future. As I reflect back I have learned a great deal in this course and I appreciate the engagement that you brought to us as students.


    • Sarah Mello says:

      This has been an eyeopening blog for me. I have to admit I didn’t know who Rachel Carson was before this class but I’m absolutely putting Silent Spring on my list of books to read. I had no idea there was one person and one book that pulled the trigger that led to so many regulations.

      Sam, I like that you point out the courage she had to have to stand against basically everybody and lay the facts out. Looking back, there should have been more extensive research into the environmental and health effects of DDT back when it was introduced.

      I do agree that we’ve come a long way with recent technologies but it all falls on our ability to alter our lifestyles drastically. I think in order for society as a whole to accept such drastic changes there will have to be a trigger. When pearl harbor happened the US went from producing cars to producing tanks, aircraft carriers etc. We might need something devastating to make everybody realize change isn’t just an option it’s mandatory.

  12. Daniel Sumner says:

    Excellent post Bobby. Reflecting back on the amazing work of Rachel Carson and her tireless efforts to promote human and environmental rights. It is clear that we have come along way since Rachel Carson set in motion the modern environmental movement. However, this doesn’t mean that we can get comfortable and accept where we are now. As you said Bobby, we still have a lot of challenges ahead, like global warming and global food insecurity. We are moving in the right direction but we need to keep setting our goals higher so as we can continue to make a difference and sustainably manage our planet’s natural resources.

  13. Megan McKinley says:

    I had no idea that this book had such a wide spread impact until recently. I have read some of her book and definitely intend on reading the rest of it soon. It’s amazing how much progress we have made since this book was published in the environmental movement but there is also so much more to accomplish that we can continue working towards.

  14. Spencer Davis says:

    This was a good tribute to Rachel Carson. I cant believe that they actually though it was ok to drive down streets just spraying chemicals. Not to mention the pictures you haven’t shown where they are spraying kids with that stuff. We just never really know what some things are going to do till its too late. Someone above already mentioned, this is why they got into the ISAT program and especially environment. We really need people today that are gonna try and help fix these problems we have been creating. Its important! Great post!

  15. Will Gilrain says:

    This is a nice reminder that it only takes one person to create a vast amount of change in the world. It is also nice to see how far we have come in protecting the environment since most of the time we just focus on how far we have left to go. Rachel Carson seems like she was a truly remarkable person.

  16. Matt Penning says:

    This was a great recap of the major environmental shifts that have occurred since the release of Rachel Carson’s famous book. With all of the attention climate change receives it was nice to read about some of the environmental improvements and victories that the Greens have achieved in the past few decades.

  17. This is a great tribute to Rachel Carson. It is amazing to see the impact one person can have throughout the course of history. It is awesome to see the effects of the Clean Air and Clean water acts have had to improve our nations rescources. It is awesome to see how far one persons actions can reach in history.

  18. Sarah Lott says:

    I really enjoyed your reflection on all of the changes that have come about as a result of Silent Spring. Being a college student now means that I’ve had the chance to learn a ton about current environmental issues. However, it’s sometimes hard to see how recent some of these changes have been. It seems crazy to me, as a Biology student, that 50 years ago ecosystems and systemic thinking in general were new and just being brought to schools. I’m very grateful to Rachel Carson and all others who have helped to spur this movement of environmental stewardship and am hopeful that my generation and future generations will continue to foster this ethic.

    Thanks Bobby!

  19. Alvaro Campomanes says:

    That was a great blog entry, and it is true she deserves most of the merit for what she did. Many of the environmental organizations that sprouted in the 70s were inspired by her insights on what it means to think holistically to manage environmental issues. I really agree with your positive personality towards the environmental challenges that we face in the future. Many environmentalist belief that it is too late and that we are doomed, but you cannot be stuck in that mind set. I believe that change is happening at an alarming rate for environmental awareness and am really happy for that.

  20. Ryan Cook says:

    My mother once told me how when she was a little girl in Charleston, South Carolina her and her friends would run behind the DDT truck and play in the fumes whenever they would spray for mosquitoes. Today we all know that this is an incredibly stupid thing to do, but to her at the time it was just some simple, harmless fun. Neither her nor her parents ever thought that what was bad for the bugs was also bad for humans. I think this just goes to show how much of an impact the environmental movement in America has had on public awareness. It has made us realize that humans can’t just affect their environment on a grand scale without negative repercussions.

  21. Kyle bigbuckkillin Prendergast says:

    Carson spoke out against the government and chemical industry in a courageous attempt to acknowledge the devestation being done to the environment by DDT. Her goals were more than achieved in the train she started. So many environmental agencies and regulations can be credited to her!

  22. Neil O'Dell says:

    Carson was able to achieve alot through the Clean Water and Air Acts. Its impressive to that she could raise such awareness in a time where true negligence is to blame (aka DDT getting a nobel). Its tough to start a revolution and she was very successful in doing so. On rest of the stuff mentioned in the blog it still feels like there are few people doing alot of work. If we could get everyone involved think of how awesome and clean our world would be. But if everyone lived in the city and rode bicycles how would be get to enjoy the nature that we love? I’ll drive an electric truck i guess…. Fun entry to read though!!!

  23. Charles Ross says:

    I enjoyed your post Dr. Whitescarver! It seems like we wouldn’t be as nearly aware as we are today if it weren’t for Rachel Carson. I do believe that the man who created DDT deserves the Nobel Piece Prize because at the time he was awarded, he was the one who protected people from diseases and starvation, which is an amazing feat. It is awful that the same chemical turned around and ended up hurting us in the end. Happy Anniversary Silent Spring!!

  24. Alex Haney says:

    I had always known of Rachel Carson and her book, but I never really knew how much of an impact it had on the Enviornmental Movement. I never knew all the push for clean water, clean air, and Earth Day started as a result of Silent Spring, and Rachel Carson’s testimony in front of Congress. It is a great testament to how much of an influence any one person can have on the environmental movement.

    It is typical of many chemicals humans invent such as DDT, have harmful environmental and biological sideeffects but they are unknown until the product has been on the market for a while. Today plastics are still being questioned for their health effects. Rachel Carson’s simplistic emperical testing helped expose the harm of DDT and get it removed from the market. More of us need to step up and be like Rachel Carson in today’s world to continue protecting the environment from harmful chemicals we don’t entirely understand.

  25. Stephanie Gordon says:

    I recently started reading Silent Spring and it is really amazing the amount of research and work Carson put into the book. I think that in the throes of the modern environmental movement her contribution is sometimes forgotten. thank you for reminding people that the environmental movement would not be what it is today without Rachel Carson.

  26. Andrew Knoll says:

    This is an excellent reminder of the progress that we have made over the last few decades on the environmental front. It is very easy to get discouraged these days when we hear about all the problems that we are currently facing. When we look back however we can see that when people put their minds to it we can really make a difference in the world. I think it’s great that you selected Earth day in order to post this and give everyone encouragement to continue to do the right thing and support making the world a healthier and more sustainable place.

  27. Julia Ennis says:

    It amazes me that one book could have such an impact on society. I have only read bits and pieces of Silent Spring, but it really touched a part of me. Rachael Carson was such a brilliant woman and excellent role model for women and men. She stood up for what she believed in and look at what she accomplished? DDT finally was banned from the US and people were able to see the effect that pesticides could have on the environment. I really enjoyed this post and cannot wait to read more in the future.

  28. Emily Northup says:

    It is clear that Rachael Carson was the match that lit the fire under the world in the 1960’s to really begin environmental awareness, and the entire environmental movement. It is hard to believe that one book could have such a long lasting impact on society, our education about the environment, and our need to conserve all the things within the environment. Being a woman for Carson to acknowledge the effects that DDT was having on our world and speak up against the government was especially respectful. She is a worthy environmental hero.

  29. Brian Nixon says:

    Professor, this is a great tribute to Rachel Carson’s work! I find it amazing and inspiring that she was able to take her concerns and her passions and reflect them in a work such as Silent Spring which which I feel helped ignite the flames of the environmental revolution as well as inspired the formation of the EPA.

  30. Lauren Frigm says:

    This article reminds me of how much progress the world has made in the past 50 years. It is amazing that just 50 years ago DDT was being used on such a large scale and rivers were catching on fire because of how polluted they are. It also, however, reminds me of how far we still have to go. So much more can be done to improve water and air quality that will benefit humans and the environment alike. With people as passionate as Rachel Carson, the future can hold improvement and preservation of the environment to benefit generations to come.

  31. Lani Furbank says:

    This is a very heartening post, especially after reading Lester Brown’s truthful but frightening warning in “Plan B 4.0.” I didn’t really understand the scope of Rachel Carson’s brave activism until I took an environmental communication class, where we learned about the many pioneers of the the environmental movement. It’s incredible just to think that the things we automatically learn about today were not even considered relevant just 50 years ago. We should definitely be thankful for people like Carson, who realized we had a problem before the research and hard science told us we did. It’s always a good reminder to hear about amazing success stories like hers, and how we really can make progress as a society when we accept the truth and do something about it. Hopefully, we will be able to take Brown’s advice and run with it as well, but, as you said, at a faster pace than we have been already. I believe we can do it, and I hope others do, too! I think your tribute post will serve to help people come to the realization that we can save the earth if we effectively manage our natural resources.

  32. Jessica Wright says:

    This was a really great post Dr. Whitescarver! Carson is an amazing woman and I hope one day I could even come close to making an impact on our world as she did. I also believe we are heading in the right direction. It is just going to take some time and effort from everyone to reach that point in time.

  33. Mandy Jenkins says:

    This was a great tribute to a true environmental hero. It’s amazing how just one person can start with a fairly basic idea and have such a profound effect on so many people, and continues to have such an effect even 50 years later. I have read only parts of Silent Spring, and found it difficult to get through at some points because it was fairly dry and technical. But this has obviously not prevented it from causing such a large environmental movement in our society. Great post!

  34. Justin Taylor says:

    This post was very inspirational Dr. Whitescarver. I am looking forward to reading Silent Spring after hearing about all it did for environmental awareness. I believe this awareness is at an all time high because of books like Plan B 4.0 and Silent Spring. However, we have a long way to go.

  35. Shannon Gilligan says:

    I was absolutely blown away when I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. I actually read it this past summer and it made me gain a different perspective on what beauty is and how important nature is to us as we are a part of it. I think it’s amazing that she made such an impact, but I also admire her for speaking out as a woman in a time where women were not as respected.She had a lot of nerve to stand up in congress in 1963. I really enjoyed how she explained each chemical in the books and how it was harmful; I finished the book knowing what DDT and chlordane actually were and how their creator didn’t deserve any type of reward. Rachel Carson’s early death ironically was most likely a product of the environment at the time. I believe that if we can mitigate pollution in our water system we can make small changes to mitigate the possibility of reaching a 6 degree hotter earth and the annihilation of human society.

  36. Logan Kendle says:

    It’s incredible to think about what Carson did for our civilization, but I think it is even harder to imagine what it was like for her back then to so bravely stand up to major corporations and have so many try to fight her and her book like they did. I cannot even imagine where we could be today if breast cancer hadn’t taken her so quickly; we could be looking at a very different world of environmentalism. I have several bald eagles that live on the river by my house, they are quite a sight to see hunting; its difficult to imagine that corporate greed and political agendas have nearly wiped out so many species. We need more courageous people like Carson to come along.

  37. Andrew Hedrick says:

    This was a great tribute to Rachel Carson. I have to be honest and say that I have not read Silent Spring, but after this tribute it the next book on my list to read. I would say that Rachel Carson got the ball rolling with Environmental Stewardship. She made huge steps in the right direction with the banning of DDT and the conservation of the Clean Air and Clean water acts which have had big improvements in our nations resources.

  38. Cara DiFiore says:

    Great reflection Professor. Rachel Carson has been an inspiration to me not only because of her influence within the environmental field, but she is rocking some real girl power! It has been a few years since I have read Silent Spring, but I plan to revisit the text and look forward to talking more about this book and other influential environmental books in class.

  39. Nate Brown says:

    This is an awesome reminder of the wonderful things we have accomplished in the terms of managing our natural resources and protecting human health. So often we think about environmental problems so negatively we forget how far we’ve come since the 1960’s. This progress was made possible largely by Rachael Carson and her passionate work. It is inspiring to reflect on the progress of the past, but we cannot become complacent in our efforts to continue to improve environmental health and well-being.

  40. Steven Jackman says:

    It’s incredible how ignorance is bliss and detrimental at the same time. This was shown through the development and use of DDT, it was a great product that did it’s job, however it also caused great issues with environmental and health impacts. I found it amazing that one woman was able to revolutionize the natural resource management and environmental policies. I believe it is very clear that we are taking great steps in improving our way of life and our carbon footprint, and that giant leaps will be made in the near future.

  41. Samuel Evans says:

    It’s amazing how early this book was published and how it still hold relevance today and is still getting people to behave differently and begin to care about environmental issues. I have not read Silent Spring yet but am excited to do so. Also surprising that i have never heard of this book till today, given that she has made such a large impact on the entire world long after her untimely death, she was a silent hero, to me and many others who will never know who helped make there world considerably better, cleaner, and safer.

  42. Erica Mulford says:

    I’ve never read the book Silent Spring but it’s fascinating how even one book can be so inspirational and cause a great environmental shift. I wasn’t aware that our rivers and streams are cleaner today, that’s definitely a scary thought. Hopefully we can keep the green shift going strong!

  43. Kyle Schwizer says:

    I can really see how she is considered one of your heroes. It is quite amazing how one person can change the public’s awareness on natural resource conservation. Rachel Carson had so much persistent courage that allowed her to step up and tackle a problem that was in such of a need to examine but no one really wanted to. She is truly a hero to the natural resource conservation movement and this whole tribute to her has been an inspiration to me to want to contribute and learn more about natural resource conservation.

  44. Mark Edwards says:

    I have heard a lot about Rachel Carson throughout the years I’ve been in ISAT and for some reason fought the opportunity to pick up her book “Silent Spring”. It sounds like a great book and a definite must read especially if I have hopes of pursuing a job in the natural resource field. Like many others, did not know that she was such a driving force in the environmental movement (ie. clean air act, clean water act, nutrient management), and its a shame that the inventor of DDT was presented with such an honor worthy award. One can only imagine where we are headed in the future and I thoroughly hope that we stay on course and continue to improve what Mrs. Carson has helped to start.

  45. Like many, I have not read this book and I now feel that I must. As many have said before, it’s amazing the impact that a single book and person has had on our world. We obviously need to keep progressing in our environmental stewardship and your tribute makes me curious if someone as influential will come out of our generation to ignite new legislation and passion.

  46. Maryann Sniezek says:

    It’s unbelievable the progress we’ve made so far on so many environmental issues! It provides great inspiration in conquering the many environmental problems we have yet to face. Rachel Carson shows that it is worth the effort to make public the environmental issues that you hold dear to your heart. Your passion might motivate others and gradually, as more and more people become inspired, the world will take a turn for the better!

  47. Conor Furey says:

    This was a great post to read for some positive thoughts about where our planet is heading. It is very easy to get caught up in all the problems that the planet is facing that often we forget about the good things that have been done. I am amazed that rivers could be so polluted that they were considered “fire hazards”. It is very clear to me that our planet would be in a much worse place if it were not for Rachel Carson’s impact.

  48. Chris Brown says:

    This article opened my eyes a lot to the positives that have come from environmental stewardship and the progress made towards protecting the environment and natural resources since Rachel Carson’s publication of Silent Spring. It made me take a step back and realize that the news we hear often times is negative with respect to the condition of the environment, but as a people, we are moving in the right direction towards living more consciously of our surroundings. Rachel Carson is inspiring because she was simply sharing her passion through writing a book that effectively changed governmental policy and social political viewpoints for generations.

  49. Erica Harriman says:

    Rachel Carson is an inspirational woman and it is amazing that one book can have such an enormous impact on the way the world views our environment and the natural resources that it holds. It is fantastic that we have come so far from where we were fifty years ago. I read parts of Silent Spring back in a high school environment class, but after reading this post I wish to go back to really understand Rachel Carson’s message. Thank you for sharing this post Professor Whitescarver.

  50. Scott McNally says:

    Silent Spring is easily one of my favorite books. It still amazes me how she was able to document such a thorough account of all the environmental problems at the time. Through out her work she makes it very clear that it is a crime to disrespect your planet which is how everyone should think. One of the biggest problems in my opinion, is that people for a large part take this planet and all it offers us for granted. We have come a very far way since then and we owe a large part of that to Rachel Carson. A lot of the time, the root cause of environmental problems is simply ignorance or a lack of education. Silent Spring served to inform many people and made a huge change in our country.

  51. Paul Brefka says:

    I enjoyed reading this article in memory of Rachel Carson and I look forward to reading some of her work. To tell you the truth I had not heard the name before or heard of her book but I have gained an interest. After reading this article I understand that this woman had a significant impact on environmental views which we take for granted today. Without her input into environmental conservation we might have gone down a different path with regard to the environment. When I look around I see a lot which can still be done to reduce our negative impacts on the environment. I think this country is headed in the right direction like the article says but I think time is not on our side. We are not changing fast enough to combat the problems at hand. We need a big movement where people really bring the environment to the foreground of political debates and legislation in order to change the way our economy and government are run.

  52. Cameron Morton says:

    I had never heard of Rachael Carson before last week, but I am glad to know about her now. It was very courageous of her to testify to congress about her environmental research, especially when environmentalism was not even close to the level it is today. It is sad to think that the government would allow a chemical like DDT to be recklessly used on farmlands across the country without meticulously testing its potentially detrimental effects. To think that something that was so effectively capable of wiping out living organisms just might have a negative effect on the surrounding ecology doesn’t seem too radical… Regardless, it was imperative to have someone like Rachael Carson around to drive so many environmental movements and open our nation’s eyes to correct our careless mistakes that have negatively impacted the Earth. She did an outstanding job in getting us on the right track towards a healthy planet.

  53. Braden Tanner says:

    Before this class, I had never heard of Rachel Carson or any of her books. I understand now why Professor Whitescarver thinks so highly of her. After reading this article, I can see the impact that Carson had on the environmental movement. Silent Spring goes to show how much attitudes can change when people are shown information that they previously did not have access to. I look forward to reading Silent Spring, and maybe a few other of Carson’s books in the near future.

  54. Andrew Lucchesi says:

    This blog really enlightened me on how Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring put positive changes in motion for the multitude of environmental issues in our country. It’s incredible, and inspiring, that one person/book was able to incur awareness and change of that magnitude! I really liked the optomistic nature of this post as well, it’s easy to dwell on the problems and negatives (of which there are many, but just as important to realize the accomplishments thus far that we’ve made as a society. Accomplishments and progress will continue to increase with people like you in the field and the classroom!

  55. Jennifer Comer says:

    The uproar that Carson started with Silent Spring is amazing! She understood the importance of the environmental issues she was discussing throughout the book and was able to push he influences on the whole country. It is a shame that Carson was not able to experience the influence that she had on the whole nation and how progress is still being made today!

  56. Michael Rann says:

    Rachel Carson got the ball rolling on so many present day aspects of conservation that today we take for granted. Its truly incredible to imagine the fortitude and determination that she must have had to take on so many powerful institutions of her time to fight for what she knew was right. She was a truly inspiring leader and is very worthy of this great tribute. Well done!

  57. Katherine Bishop says:

    Profesor Whitescarver, as someone with prior knowledge on Rachel Carson and all of her environmental doings this is a very lovely synthesis of her actions and shows her love for our world. I loved reading her book and it is part of the reason I am focusing on environmental conservation and sustainability. It is difficult to imagine where our environment would be if she had not published that book.

    • Gabriela Fleury says:

      Silent Spring was so incredibly important in the Environmentalism movement, presenting a look at nature compromised by synthetic pesticides. It proposed the moral question of what we were doing to the environment and got people thinking about the impacts in general of human activity on the planet. It was responsible for inspiring many different pieces of environmental law, as well as Earth Day. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential books on environmentalist ideas in the 20th century. Carson was not only remarkable for her scientific knowledge but her talent as a writer, most importantly, her talent at communicating scientific knowledge in a way that was both evocative and easily understood.

  58. Olivia McGuigan says:

    I recently purchased Silent Springs and have found it hard to put down ever since I started reading it. Rachel Carson’s analysis on the environmental impacts of DDT are inspirational for change. Your outlook on her life and the work she accomplished in her life is optimistic for the future, with right. Spreading knowledge will speed up the pace of the change that she started 50 years ago. It’s comforting to know that we’ve implemented so many BMPs within those 50 years all because of how influential Rachel Carson was.

  59. Seraphim Daniel Falterman says:

    I respect Rachel Carson and agree that she was very courageous in her publication of “Silent Spring.” She definitely put a pressure on a public that was by in large unaware of the risks of their society’s use of chemicals. However, I feel that while she should be honored, connecting Virginia’s waste water management plan to her in such a direct way is misleading. I prefer to think of her tremendous spirit when she dealt with the chemical industry after raising concerns about the indiscriminate use of DDT. It is an inspiration to me that she was able to persevere through being vilified and attacked by those defending their commercial interests. I feel that our would is a much better place because of the actions that Rachel Carson tool. She is an excellent example for us.

  60. Shaina Hyman says:

    Ive learned of Rachel Carson many times throughout my college career but her true impact on the future of the environment has never fully been explained until now. She inspires me to stay true to my beliefs and to allow myself to be heard. She was very passionate and determined to make a difference, which lead to the discontinuation of DDT. Now we can see how the overuse or misuse of a chemical, or perhaps anything, can have detrimental effects, when if used properly could have had many benefits.

  61. Arianna Sessoms says:

    I had learned a little bit about Silent Spring in one of my previous environmental studies classes and had read a few excerpts from the book, but now, after reading this, I want to read the whole book! It’s amazing that so many great and game-changing things resulted from one woman’s book. I love when women in history are acknowledged and appreciated for the amazing things they do. So many people are blinded by convenience that they don’t notice how detrimental the things we are doing to the environment are, and how important the environment is. Although they may not be directly affected, they don’t realize that one day these issues will in fact directly hit them, and hit them hard. I look forward to reading Carson’s book and learning more in this class. Thanks!

  62. Brandon Walraven says:

    Inspiring post professor. It seems crazy to think most people didn’t question the health implications of spraying all those gallons of chemicals; my parents told me that when they were growing up all the kids in their neighborhoods would follow the trucks and run through the clouds for fun. It makes me wonder about everything that we expose ourselves to today. Great way to preface the accomplishments we’ve made so far, although I’m afraid as you said that the pace is not fast enough. Hats off to Rachel Carson for inspiring a movement with such far reaching effects, especially while she was battling cancer. Its unfortunate that modern watchdog writers such as James Hansen have not been able to gather the same level of public support to deal with climate change.

  63. Drake Cary says:

    I have not read Silent Spring but I think it’s great that you are continuing to highlight the triumphs of Rachel Carson. Her stewardship set into motion an environmental notion that spread across the nation and has only become more and more prevalent with each passing year. I believe it is important to continue to showcase the great work Rachel Carson did so many years ago, in hopes that someone from our youth will have a similar mindset and motivation to write a captivating novel about conservation or set forth a movement to help raise awareness for natural resource management and conservation.

  64. Dave DiPascale says:

    There are so many things that we now take for granted that I did not know about. Yes everyone knows that environmental regulations are more powerful today than they were 50 years ago, but I did not know that they were that bad. It is almost disturbing to think that a country such as ours had water that would literally catch on fire and believe that we had a high standard of living. Rachel Carson really did help to make this country into a more environmentally conscious one and also a healthier one. To think that these trucks would drive around pouring cancerous material into the atmosphere and children would run through it and no one would say anything is so hard to believe. It is also disturbing to think that people would think that Rachel Carson was a lunatic and had no idea what she was talking about. Yes DDT would kill insects, but there are so many more healthier ways to do it that DDT just appears to be overkill. Because of Rachel Carson, we live in a world that is safer and much more environmentally conscious.

  65. Kevin Weissgold says:

    Rachael Carson certainly is a commendable and admirable individual and environmentalist. I learned a lot from reading this blog; I had no idea her work Silent Spring was such a driving force behind the propulsion of natural resource conservation. I knew her work was about the use and eventually banning of DDT application here in the United States but I had no idea she testified before Congress while also battling with cancer. Rachael Carson sounds like a tough, inspiring individual and it is certainly inspirational what she was able to accomplish during that time period with the short time she had. We owe a lot to this remarkable lady and steward of the environment, she issued in a new era of thinking and caring for our environment and natural resources. Through her help countless victories have been won for the environment due to her help instituting the idea of “standing” for environmental lawsuits. She is also at least partially responsible for the success in the recovery of the Bald Eagle America’s symbol of freedom as well as other animals which were susceptible to the bio-accumulation of DDT. Our watersheds have also undoubtedly benefited from the efforts of Carson through her humble values and beliefs. I have not yet read Silent Spring but after having read this blog I will definitely make it a priority. We have a long way to go but we have also made a lot of progress too because of people such as Rachael Carson, she is absolutely an inspirational natural resource hero.

  66. Lauren Donaghue says:

    That was a wonderful tribute! I personally have never heard of Silent Springs but I am very glad that this blog has introduced me to it. I plan to check it out to read it in it’s entirety. This blog blew me away with the fact that this book had such a huge impact on improving the awareness of environmental conservation. She honestly should be a hero in everyone’s eyes due to the influence of her book in our society. Without her, regulations and improvements in our environment regarding something simple such as water , would not be existent. A lot of people are unaware of her work and of how brave and bold she was. The impact she made with this book should be more well known to inspire more people to be as bold as she was. It is clear we need more people like her; people with passion and drive is what can make a change and that is exactly what we need.

  67. Jeanne Guillen says:

    It’s amazing that one person and one book made such a difference in the sense that the affects of DDT were brought to peoples’ attention. I had no idea Silent Spring had such an impact on the environmental movement. The fact that it started the “environmental awareness tsunami” and led to the creation of multiple environmental acts and organizations really blows me away.
    It’s scary to think that just a little while ago the rivers and streams in this country were considered a fire hazard. I could not imagine living in an area where the water is so polluted. However, it’s amazing that many areas have improved their watersheds significantly. It’s even more astonishing that we now have agricultural Best Management Practices and nutrient management plans.
    Before reading this, I had no idea what Rachael Carson was known for. She truly is an inspirational person for speaking out and standing up for what she believed in.

  68. Megan Bush says:

    Great post! I didn’t realize the significance of Silent Spring and the extent that Rachel Carson had on natural resources in the United States. It amazes me how just one person set in motion significant change in our country and continues to inspire people to this day. Although I have never read Silent Spring personally, I have seen how her words have inspired those around me. I will definitely pick up a copy!

  69. Brad Anderson says:

    What a great tribute to such an admirable person! Rachael Carson’s profound influence on the environmental movement has moved me. This advancement in environmental knowledge has left an everlasting effect on our culture today. Environmental awareness has become a significant part of our everyday life, and we have Rachael Carson to thank. She opened eyes and influenced our government to stop the indiscriminate use of DDT. Paul Hermann Müller, the chemist awarded the Nobel peace prize for the discovery of DDT, and many others never knew about how harmful this pesticide could be. Understanding the harmful impact on the environment, Rachel Carson stood before congress to inform them of the harm done by DDT. I have never heard of the book Silent Spring but after reading this passage would like to add this to my reading list. Undoubtedly, we need more courageous individuals like her to propel the care for natural resources around the world. The iconic America Bald Eagle may not be around today if it wasn’t for Rachel Carson.

  70. Keenan Sperry says:

    This was really an eye opening blog article. Granted, I’ve heard plenty of Rachel Carson and Silent Spring. But truth be told I didn’t know the half of it when it comes to how infulentual it became, especially in terms of litigation designed to protect our natural environment. What really struck me was how a mere 50 years ago environmental conservation was an unheard of concept, not to mention how damaged necessary natural features (such as waterways) really were back then. It’s reassuring to know how many advances we’ve made within the last half century, both in terms of federal government action all the way down to grassroot volunteer work, but I hate to admit that, in today’s ever industrializing world, (looking at you, China) we are progressing at a “two steps forward and one step back” pace that is inhibiting our progress substantially. Who knows? Maybe another Rachel Carson will come along and speed things up for the better, and hopefully soon.

  71. Schylar Healy says:

    I have to admit, before the first day of class I had never heard of Rachel Carson so it has been exciting reading about the continuous influence she has had on the environmental movement. She was amongst the few in the day that found beauty in nature which brought her a passion to “protect America’s fertile soils, her mighty forests and rivers, her wildlife and minerals, for on these her greatness was established and her strength depends.(Carson 1946).” Her passion for the environment was so strong that she was willing to jeopardize her credibility in her profession, along with her character considering what she was fighting against was thought to save lives.

  72. Michael Hammerstrom says:

    The changes that were set in motion after Rachael Carson’s publication of Silent Spring are astounding. History remembers the people who spend their life striving to make the world a better place. The amount of legislation created in response to both her book and testament before congress has greatly affected our quality of life. We all owe her a great deal for the type of world we are lucky enough to live in today.

  73. Lukas Osmers says:

    This post was a great reminder of how terribly the environment can become if we don’t take care of it. My dad used to tell stories about how the creek behind his house growing up used to smell and look terrible. He was always happy about how things had improved over the years. I’m glad that the post was not just about the successes of environmental stewardship, but also about the projects of the future, the Chesapeake Bay in particular. That is one area that still desperately needs attention.

  74. Michael Reeser says:

    Rachael Carson certainly had an astonishing impact on environmental awareness. I never realized that her efforts inspired the environmental movement that led to such things as the clean air and clean water act. It is crazy to think that without her efforts leading to the ban of DDT the bald eagle would cease to exist. Every day we take for granted simple things such as access to clean water and being able to breathe clean air, we never think about the people who helped make it possible.Rachel Carson started an environmental revolution. She is an inspiration and we need more people like her to help fight to save our environment.

  75. Walker Turner says:

    I really need to read Silent Spring. I had a discussion with a fellow named Mr. Bolgiano about hydraulic fracturing the other day. Through our discussion of fracking and horizontal drilling, comparisons of DDT began to emerge. Both DDT and horizontal drilling were not thought to be dangerous by everyone immediately following their development and they both appeared to have benefits. Granted, there does seem to be many more opponents to fracking than there initially were to DDT. However, without Carson there may have been little hope to stop or at least control the environmental and physical effects of DDT, fracking, or other detrimental practices.

  76. Amanda Rice says:

    It’s impressive the longterm influence someone’s work can have. I’m sure at the time, Rachel Carson’s focus was mainly on reducing the use of DDT. However, her efforts continue to affect our view of conserving the environment. Even though we think the environment is currently a mess, many aspects have improved greatly in the past 50 years. This encouraging news lets us know that with conservation efforts and sustainable techniques it is possible to improve the condition of our environment.

  77. This is an awesome tribute to one of the greatest environmental pioneers of all time. Rachel Carson proved that complete testing within a laboratory is crucial before fully releasing a chemical into the environment. Yes, DDT was successful at eradicating mosquitoes; however, it led to adverse health effects and a detrimental impact on the environment that fully outweighed the benefits. Carson was able to prove DDT’s misuse and strove to eliminate this harmful chemical from our environment. She also opened the minds of people around the world to environmentalism and conservation practices. Stressing the necessity of clean water is one of her major impacts, we have come a long way from “fire hazards” on waterways, but we still must strive to protect this crucial element for all kinds of life and a sustainable ecosystem. The amount of environmentalist movements she inspired is amazing. Rachel Carson is definitely one of the most influential environmentalists of our time. We can embody her ethics with us as we continue into the future to tackle some of the planet’s major environmental dilemmas.

  78. Lisa McNabola says:

    I doubt there will ever be an author that has the same impact on environmentalism as she did. Because of her actions environmentalism is a major aspect of our culture. She is the inspiration for countless authors, readers and supporters of an endless amount of environmental causes. Without her, how many issues would have gone unnoticed and undocumented over time? While her efforts to ban DDT are highly commendable, I think her ability to inspire generations of environmentalists (as seen in many of these posts) is her greatest legacy.

  79. Bradley Andrick says:

    Great minds lend great ideas, and Rachel Carson certainly had some truly great ideas. She has made such significant contributions regarding pesticides, not only influencing legislation but also defining environmentalism and the ethical understanding between people and their environment. I have only recently heard of Carson but I can clearly see how she helped to open the eyes of a nation and change the fundamental ideas about concerns for environmental well-being. After reading this blog and comments, it is encouraging to see that so many generations find value in Carson’s work.

  80. Kevin Van Deusen says:

    Having read Silent Spring in high school, I think I might pick it up and read it again. Back then it inspired me to get into the protection of the environment and I believe if i read it a second time with the knowledge I have now I will be able to get even more out of the book. I never realized that she basically jump started so many acts and environmental milestones.

  81. Colleen Weidert says:

    Rachel Carson was the first natural resource hero that I feel truly moved me and inspired me to work for what she has started. I hate to admit but I have not read the book, but it is now my number one on my to do list. It is amazing how far we have come in the short amount of time that has passed. This gives me hope that we can make a change within the short time span we have to make drastic changes. Lately I have lost a little faith in the environmental movement, but reading posts like this make me remember why I am so passionate and restores my hope. I lose my drive when I see all of the layers of red tape it takes to try and make any changes to help the environment and the majority of people who do not support it. Although, this is when I think of what Rachel Carson accomplished. She changed the face of the environmental movement while be criticized and battling cancer. I was unaware that Virginia has the best sewage treatment in the world and I am proud to be living in this state! It makes me realize as an environmental studies minor, I should take advantage of this and the opportunities presented to me to learn. I am excited to expand my mind to what you have to teach us:)

  82. Eric Quiroga says:

    This was a wonderful blog post! I have learned about Rachel Carson before, but only during one class lecture. I wish I got to learn more about this influential person. Without Rachel Carson, there may have never been anyone that stood up for our natural resources, wildlife, and the general health of the human and animal population. DDT was such a dangerous toxin that killed many animals and was later affecting the human population. It is shocking to hear that DDT would be consumed by a one animal and then found in others. For example, through runoff, DDT would get into streams and water, fish would become affected by it, then eagles and hawks would consume the fish and become affected by DDT. Without Rachel Carson, this information would have been discovered later and possible animal populations could have gone extinct.

  83. Ashley Huff says:

    Wow, Rachel Carson truly is an inspiration to all young environmentalists, and I certainly have been moved. She shows us that even when you are campaigning for a cause that no one supports you in, through perseverance and determination you can truly make a difference. Her message about DDT sparked ideas about resource conservation in the 1960’s, and it is incredible that we are still seeing effects from ‘Silent Spring’ today! Without her insight into the bio-accumulative and carcinogenic properties of DDT the world would be a very different place. No one in my generation would have been able to see a Bald Eagle flying through the sky, and this would truly be to our disadvantage. We tend to think that the environmentalist movement is relatively new, but in reality ideas about protecting our environment have been around for a long time. I am elated to see that Rachel Carson’s message of environmental conservation in the United States has stuck around, and I am honored to say that I am a participant of this movement!

  84. Michael Yuhas says:

    I would really like to read Silent Spring after reading this tribute. I sounds like Rachel Carson has done more for environmental protection in the U.S. than just about anyone out there. People like Rachel Carson and Theodore Roosevelt are the reason I became interested in environmental protection. I would love to be able do my part in helping the environment, and be a catalyst for change just as they were. I once read that when John Smith first sailed into the Chesapeake Bay he was amazed at how clear the water was. Smith said he could see over 100 feet down all the way to the bottom. I would love to make that happen again some day, but like you said, we need to pick up the pace and keep on working. An environmentalist’s work is never done!

  85. Caroline McKean says:

    I first came across Silent Spring in high school. Our senior year we were lucky enough to have a bunch of kids who were interested in taking an environmental science class, so the administration set up a class for the first time in a few years. Most of the students enrolled had pushed for the class to be created and were passionate about the material which led to some great discussions about current issues and course readings. One of these – probably the most memorable – was Silent Spring. Our teacher taught us a good deal about Carson and the book’s background, but honestly what stuck with me the most was how she emphasized to the class that Carson’s work was one of the most crucial in environmental history. This article exemplifies that point perfectly, and made me remember how much Silent Spring really impacted the world with its shocking and informative content. We owe Rachel Carson a great deal – though her discoveries may have easily been made by another, she was the first to make them public with such wide scale success. Again, though another may have done this later on had she not, we would have wasted even more valuable time in counteracting our harmful behavior and would have damaged our planet and its species further than we already had at the time of her discoveries.

  86. Eric Severn says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog post about the inspirational and influential environmental hero, Rachael Carson! I was unaware of how important her book, Silent Spring, was and how many wonderful and successful programs emerged from the book, including the EPA and laws like the Endangered Species Act. Chemicals like DDT are very harmful to the environment and being educated about its effects can really assist in the protection and management of natural resources, which is the main goal of this class. To this day, I have always been passionate about protecting the environment and organisms of all shapes and sizes. As I grew up, I was heavily involved in the Boy Scouts of America and I was fortunate to make the rank of Eagle Scout. Being involved in this program really taught me how important our Earth is and that everyone should be educated about people like Rachael Carson. I feel that everyone should be educated about the environment as well because our survival depends on Earth, not the other way around. Thank you for posting this informative blog on this wonderful, environmental leader and I’m very much looking forward to expanding my knowledge on the environment and how I can make a difference in helping to improve and maintain the future of our beautiful planet.

  87. Christian Cline says:

    This post is good reminder of how things used to be. I can’t imagine a river that would be a fire hazard. The clean water act and the clean air acts are huge environmental accomplishments that we take for granted. Rachel Carson is a good example of how one person can make a difference. While it is better than it was, we need to constantly be striving towards responsibility and sustainability.

  88. Scott Brooks says:

    The use of DDT is the most highly controversial topic in the past half century. During its usage, the people of America and the rest of the world believed this pesticide was great,a miracle insect killer. It turned out to be a killer of much more than what its intended use was. I commend Rachel Carson for her conservation efforts for the fact that she re-evaluated what mainstream media was telling the world. She fought to make the planet a healthier place while being told that she was wrong. Through constant pursuit she has successfully disarmed the harmful pesticide from further use.

  89. Connor Gray says:

    This is a great post that really shows how one individual can shape the future of a people. If it wasn’t for Rachel Carson and her determination, DDT may still be in use today. I was really impressed with what she was able to do while dealing with cancer. She is a real inspiration to our generation. As young adults we should look to her for inspiration when it comes to the environmental issues that we are facing today. I feel that we will be able to change the world if we take time to think about what is right when it comes to environmental issues and do what is right.

  90. Daniel Freeman says:

    I always enjoy reading about Rachael Carson and the importance of environmental awareness. I think its funny (and terrible!) that I had not heard of her until my first few college courses. I don’t think she was mentioned in any of my history or science textbooks throughout grade school, and not much was emphasized about environmental preservation. That is why I still believe that the biggest environmental problem today is awareness. If everyone on the planet knew the environmental consequences of certain actions they take, a lot less horrible decisions would be made. I believe that Rachael Carson and others did a great job in spreading awareness throughout the country, but I believe much more needs to be done based on my personal experiences.

  91. Dylan Shifflette says:

    Silent Spring is one of the most influential books known in the environmentalist community today. Carson begins the book by describing a small town in America and describes how this town changed into a place of natural disaster where everything was dying, including the people. The town described turns out to be made up, but each terrifying incident described had actually happened somewhere. The first chapter of the book has always stuck out to me and meant something to me because I can relate to it since I’m from a small town in America much like the one described in the book. Without Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring, this fictional section of the book could have become a reality.

  92. Sundaram Periyasamy says:

    Rachel Carson paved the way for environmentalism in America. It’s been 50 years since she published her book and since then there has been a dramatic increase in environmental awareness. We still have a lot of work to do, but there has been progress. As part of the generation that will have to continue to accelerate environmental conservation there are many challenges up ahead, but we can always rely on the values that Rachel Carson wrote about to guide us. Currently, we face several issues that are different from what Rachel Carson may have encountered. I believe the biggest environmental issue that we have today is dealing with the pollution created from the energy we consume. A solution that would solve so many problems would be to convert to 100% renewable energy. As tough as it sounds, i believe it is possible and would greatly benefit people.

  93. Andrew White says:

    Carson will always be remembered for what she started in the environmental arena. It would be interesting to hear what she would have to say about today’s environment. She would probably be happy about the direction we are going but at the right pace? Like the blog said, at least we are going in the right direction. I don’t think Carson would wholeheartedly agree. While this is the right direction, we need more people like Carson stirring up trouble so that we don’t just settle with the right direction but push towards a more sustainable, clean energy using, environmentally focused future.

  94. Fanuel Haile says:

    I just did my NR hero on Richard Nixon and how he started the EPA and passed environmental acts. I was unaware that Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring were what lead to Earth day which then lead to Nixon promoting new environmental policies. I would like to thank Carson because we do live in an age where water is treated to the extent that it’s safe enough to drink and air pollution is regulated enough that were seeing our ozone layer return to its proper level of thickness (after being thinned out by CFCs). Carson opened American eyes to the detrimental impacts they’ve had on the planet. Since then we have been on the right track in terms of attempting to fix the environmental problems at hand but there are so many social, economical, and political issues that seem to stand in the way of fully fixing those problems. Hopefully, we’ll find a way to overcome these issues before it’s too late and tragedy strikes the human race (we’ve already seen the full impacts of natural disasters, like Katrina, and it’s only going to get worse).

  95. Grace Corapi says:

    It is incredible how much has changed over the past 50 years, so thank you for highlighting some of the most notable achievements. We still have a long way to go, but we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are today without the brave voices of the environmental movement. I have to wonder, how does Virginia stack up against other states in the U.S. in terms of farming practices? Are some areas better than others as a whole, or does it vary per state, or even per farm? A lot of people tend to forget that Virginia is a huge farming state, and so I am sure much input politically gets pushed aside from the overwhelming populations in suburban and urban Virginia.
    People are the most powerful piece of the puzzle for change. Not only gaining knowledge about all of the environmental damage that needs repair, but also putting a voice behind that knowledge. Absolutely nothing gets done if we just hear and read about it.
    Rachel Carson is without a doubt one of the most influential speakers of her time, and even into ours. Her works are still popular and highly respected today, and it could be argued that many other writers and biologists have been and continue to be inspired by her work. I know for sure I am, and this article is a lovely tribute to everything she worked hard to do, and then some!

  96. Daniel Warren says:

    I like how the article sums up the forward progression in the environmental movement that has surfaced thanks in large part to Rachel Carson’s contribution through Silent Spring. I think it is important for everyone who has become aware of these issues to constantly remind themselves of the progress that has been made by individuals like Carson. Forward momentum is gaining, and there’s absolutely no use in getting overwhelmed by the state of the environment. If we can turn flammable streams into clean streams, than we can also turn our current environmental predicament around.

  97. Heather Hunter says:

    I want to harness some of Carson’s strength and vision. She seems like such a powerful and poised woman. Thanks for bringing our attention to her. It’s the first time I have really learned who she is and heard her name. I’ll have to pick up one of her books to soak in some of her knowledge and really understand her vision.

    • Codey Johnson says:

      I could not agree any more, Rachel Carson is a true hero. Being able to positively impact so many people even after her own passing is something we could only dream of achieving. I am also very happy the professor writes these blogs; opening people’s eyes to greater people like Ms. Carson is something special. It says something about our society when most people can name a handful of serial killers on a whim but could never name someone like Rachel Carson.

  98. Stanley McMillian says:

    Carson’s courage to put her neck on the line nationally was remarkable. As a women in the sixties, she did something many men and women would never do. This blog post defiantly highlighted how much of a driving force she was for the environmental awareness movement. Carson is a great reminder of how the majority isn’t always correct. I can only hope that more of our generation is exposed to Silver Spring and other advocates from the national awareness movement. In addition, this piece defiantly hits close to home considering that I live in the valley. I feel like there could be much more efficient and environmentally friendly practices introduced widespread!

  99. Leah Wilkes says:

    I understand why Rachel Carson is a hero of yours. It is inspiring and encouraging to read how Carson was bold in her beliefs and wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed was right, even if it meant upsetting people. It is scary to think about what might have happened if Carson hadn’t stood up against DDT. But it is incredible to think of all the different acts and laws that resulted from Carson standing up for what she believes. I think we can all learn from Carson and when we see something that we disagree with or question, investigate and stand up for what we believe is right.

  100. Ben Foster says:

    It’s amazing that Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, was able to create so much environmental and political change. Her ability to kickstart modern environmentalism may be the reason I am so interested in the environment and keeping it clean for the generations to come. I worked on a farm over the summer for a family friend who was getting up in age and needed some help. He knew what I was majoring in and gave me Silent Spring to read. At the time I had no clue what the book was even about or the revolution it created. Looking back I can see that he knew what a huge deal Silent Spring was and how important it was to raising awareness about our deteriorating environment.

  101. Susan Andersen says:

    I was reading a comment made by Ryan Cook above about how his mom and her friends would PLAY IN THE DDT MIST when they were children and I was absolutely horrified. But back in the day, as Ryan mentioned, they didn’t even think twice about it. It’s amazing the differences between knowledge then and knowledge now. It makes me wonder what environmental disaster we’re currently knowingly doing that a few generations from now will be horrified that we did. I guess only time and maybe another Rachel Carson can tell.

  102. Allyson Ponn says:

    Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, was the beginning of an environmental movement in the United States. Even after 50 plus years of publication, the book is still looked to and treasured in classrooms and the like. It’s easy to see why she is nothing less than a hero. Her beliefs, publications, and testimony to Congress was the start to the many leaps we have taken towards environmental stewardship, as this blog post has pointed out. The progress we have made from the time we encouraged DDT use to now is astounding. Even though I have yet to read this book, this class has inspired me to definitely add it to my reading list.

  103. Caitlin Shipman says:

    As several people have already stated, Rachel Carson was able to set off a cascade of environmental reforms that are continuing to leave a positive impact today. It is amazing how much one person can achieve when they are passionate about their beliefs and want to make a change in the world. As the article stated, environmental groups are now allowed standing in court, something that was unheard of fifty years ago. In my mind, this is one of the biggest outcomes from Rachel Carson’s work. Standing in court allows for new legislation to be made, so there can continue to be forward progress.

  104. Jackson Snarr says:


    Beautiful tribute to the ‘Tributary’ which you pointed out feeds many grass root and government organisations today. Encompassing some of the greatest environmental policy, legislation, and actions carried out by our country as a result of the book Silent Spring. Having the privilege to have read the book already I can truly appreciate the editorial you’ve produced. It is truly crazy to think of how long the human race has been in existence compared to the quality of the environment showing a direct and negative correlation. Even in the little amount of time we have been around, we have clearly made the largest ‘footprint’ and usually don’t change the ways in which we are stuck until its almost too late. This is part of the view point Rachel Carsen battled among others as a Women Scientist and an extremest at the time. A fraction of her effort is something we should all strive to contribute to the world one day as environmentalists and scientists.


  105. Jessanna August says:

    I quote Rachel Carson, “Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life? They should not be called ‘insecticides,’ but ‘biocides’.” The term “biocide” delivers a chilling wake-up call to readers. This chemical, DDT, is a deadly poison to all life forms. How is it possible that scientists did not see the future impact of DDT? I believe the agricultural industry was so infatuated with the beneficial effects of DDT, they overlooked the underlying danger. In truth, Rachel Carson exposed the raw ignorance of the agricultural industry. For this, she deserves unlimited credit. She proved to the public that science is not always right, or safe, and taught society to question decisions that affect citizens holistically.

  106. Harley Burton says:

    This is an excellent post about Rachel Carson’s achievements! It is especially interesting to note how far her impact reached as a result of her book. We often restrict our ideas of a project’s success by only assessing the immediate effects. However, I appreciated this post because it delved into the greater influence that a single person had. It is inspiring to see how much change an individual can set in motion, even many years later. This post also highlighted how although our progress is continuing, it could always be at a faster rate. I appreciated the call to action by setting higher goals and continuing the legacy left behind by Rachel Carson.

  107. Ashleigh Cotting says:

    I read Silent Spring in a high school environmental science class and it is definitely one of the books that set my on my current path. Personally, I can get rather discouraged during classes on environmental issues like droughts that cause world hunger because they are complex and involve so many variables. However, people like Rachel Carson help me to feel more encouraged because she shows that one person can truly make a difference.

  108. Oliver Allen says:

    I agree with both Caitlin and Ashleigh. Seeing that one passionate person can make a difference is inspiring. Too many times have I heard someone say that what they do won’t matter or it won’t make a difference because they are just one person. That is a frame of thought that needs to be done away with. If more people were as passionate as Rachel Carson about their beliefs then I think that more things that need to be done would actually get done. This goes for all people, not just us Environmentalists. One drop in ocean can still make ripples.

  109. Josh Kugler says:


    I am glad that you decided to post about this inspiring woman. She was and still is so important to the development of environmental rights and, ultimately, for the protection of humans, in general. Before this class I never really knew much about Rachel Carson, but now that I do I can’t wait to read her book and really understand more about a woman that changed the course of history forever.

  110. Jordan Palamone says:

    Before this semester I had little knowledge of the impact Rachel Carson had on environmental issues. In this class she has been brought up and I have also read/watched numerous excerpts from her in one my other classes. One of the most impressive things to do me about her is the effectiveness of her writing style. In an excerpt entitled Pesticides she creates numerous tropes relating man to evil, the devil, or as sinners. In a way it she seems to attack the reader,but it is really her passion on the matter being expresses through her language. The flow and her ability to write non-fiction creatively allowed Silent Spring to create the impact that it did.

  111. Ben Petersen says:

    I do not know too much about Rachel Carson, but now I want to read Silent Springs. It’s crazy how just one single individual can inspire so many people and start great movements. The fact that we have made so many improvements in such a short amount of time is remarkable. Here is to hoping that we can start to improve faster in the near future.

  112. Nathan Irving says:

    This is a really nice post. They always say that things used in moderation can be helpful rather than harmful. I wonder what the limit would be to help the countries that suffer with pest problems. It would be pretty important to know to avoid the same issues that were experienced here in the United States with bioaccumulation and endangering sensitive species.

  113. Anders Hasselquist says:

    After my three years in ISAT, it seems ridiculous that we used to use pesticides all willy-nilly. Our generation has luckily grown up in a time of more regulations, especially for the environment, which allows us to live a less hazardous life. Rachel Carson’s book was fairly revolutionary for her time and we are all lucky it got as much attention as it did. If we started our efforts to protect the environment any later, we may have passed the tipping point by now. Her book is also one that eludes me. I’ve heard about it since early high school and have been meaning to read it ever since. Its good to see many programs helping push us in the right direction at present. More and more people are becoming aware of our twisted fate with the environment and truly how important it can be. While we are on the right path, we have much further to go.

  114. Amanda Brown says:

    It’s crazy to think how many people have been praised for what is , in some cases, now known to be detrimental to the overall well-being of the planet and ALL those that inhabit it. Just goes to show that quick fixes may seem glorified on the surface, but in reality, no matter how small, all experiments, inventions and innovations need to be looked at in great depth before being widely accepted throughout the world. This post is a great example of how one persons passion, if pursued, can ignite a serious of events that can last much past their own lifetime.

  115. Brody Edwards says:

    Im very happy there were people like Rachel Carson that made everyone aware of these environmental impacts of ddt. Its crazy to think that a river that individuals view as something pristine and a resource can be lit on fire. I sure am glad that there arent any rivers in the US like that now and hopefully we can continue to not only educate ourselves but the rest of the world.

  116. Jesse Peebles says:

    Reading this post made me realize that it was no longer just okay to say something to my friends and family about the environmental hazards that I see in the world. No longer can someone just sit back and hope and pray that today’s politicians will “do the right thing.” Mother Earth can not protect herself and needs defenders. Who are we but her children who should be answering to her call. Overall this article was very informative and I will be promptly be renting Silent Spring and reading it!

  117. The widespread use and subsequent understanding of DDT as a pesticide, toxin and carcinogen points to an important flaw in humans, we don’t know what we don’t know. We can’t always know all consequences of our actions; accepting failure and making changes as we go is the only way forward. The course the U.S. took after coming to the realization that DDT was a problem (among other environmental issues) speaks to our ability to understand and adapt. Unfortunately our intellect can cloud our judgement and lead to the folly “knowing” how something will work, or that things will not change because “that is how they have been.” Therefore, we must make conscious efforts as individuals to carefully consider our actions, limit our mistakes and educate others so they may do the same. No amount of legislation can take the place of personal responsibility, understanding and care for those who will inherit this earth from us. We should take pride knowing that we have worked hard to fight the destruction of natural resources and as the author noted, we need to keep up our efforts to do so.

  118. Sara Miskowic says:

    Its amazing to think that one discovery made almost 50 years ago could have such an everlasting impact on environmental justice in our world. I am very grateful for Rachel Carson and her brave struggle to stand up and make a difference regarding DDT. This has inspired me to buy the book Silent Spring and to take more of an interest into discovering other environmental injustices and what i can do to help. this also make me very grateful that i grew up in a time period where i do not have to worry about things like this. Thank you Rachel Carson!!

  119. Cameron Stalker says:

    Before coming to this class, I had never heard of Rachel Carson. After reading this blog, I really want to read her book. It is amazing to me how brave she was to publish of her book addressing the issues associated with the use of DDT even though the person that developed DDT won Nobel Prize for it. Knowing she was scrutinized for the book and her findings, it is so motivating to see how hard she fought to prove her point and protect the environment. Because of her book, she inspired people to look at the environment and the impact our actions have on it. I am glad that Rachel Carson stood up for what she believed in and was one of the front runners on the development of environmental protection.

  120. Jonathon Gellings says:

    The ripple effect resulting from Carson’s knowledge and efforts is impressive. We have come a long way from where we were 50 years ago, between all the acts, agencies, and laws that now exist. The amount of awareness she sparked has also been important as it has caused people to be conscious of their actions. I am surprised that I did not learn about Carson or her book sooner, considering she is such a prominent environmental figure.

  121. Preston W. says:

    It surprised me to hear in class that Rachel Carson, a public figure who made such a monumental positive impact on society, could have legitimate critics. Knowing this, I thought it would be worthwhile to look into their views on her work to see if there were any obvious fallacies to their claims. One recurring claim was that by facilitating the ban on DDT, she was responsible for the malaria-related deaths of millions of African children. Recently, in ISAT 411, we learned that when DDT was applied in impoverished areas of Africa, the chemical would bioaccumulate up the food chain until it killed massive amounts of wild and domestic cats in the area. This reduction in the cat population lead to a major spike in the population of rats, which have been known to harbor the plague, another destructive source of illness. I think the point I am trying to reach is that there is never just one perfect solution to any problem, especially those related to natural resource management. One must balance the good and the bad in their thinking, and I believe it is evident in her writing that Rachel Carson held this balanced scientific thought process. That said, I am glad to see this blog post celebrating her work and the environmental awareness that came of it.

  122. David Glenn says:

    Coming into this class, Rachael Carson’s name did not ring any bells. I had never heard of her or the contributions she had made to environmental sustainability. However after reading this blog and better understanding the struggles she faced when fighting for what she believed in, it is easy to see why she’s considered an environmental hero. Before entering this class I had heard plenty of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the EPA, and other things like that. What I did not know was the impact Rachael Carson’s book had on sparking the creation of those acts and organizations. Once you know the effort she put into making our world a better and safer place, it is very easy to call her an environmental hero; even though she testified against the use of a chemical whose creator was awarded a Nobel Prize.

  123. Kelli Park says:

    It is hard for me to believe that pre 1962 era was unaware of the effects human actions were having on the environment. Growing up learning about environmental science from an early age, it is something that I have always been aware of and made an effort to do my part. It seems like now people are looking at decision making from different perspectives from the beginning until the end to consider all possible side effects of whatever action is being considered. It surprises me that people did not do this before. When spraying chemicals such as DDT onto crops, for example, why did it not occur to anyone that there might be detrimental side effects to the environment and to humans? This should have been tested extensively before applications began. I am thankful that Rachel Carson stood up for this cause and started the environmental science movement. If it was not for her I would not have been exposed to this field, and not have been as passionate about it as I am today.

  124. Carli Kohler says:

    Before ISAT 424 I had only heard the name Rachel Carson maybe once before so t sounded familiar but I could not remember why. After learning more about her in class and reading this blog post it truly is amazing to hear all the knowledge that she knew about DDT and that time and the detrimental affects that it was bringing all over the world. As a women in the 1960s trying to prove her point about science and the environment I can only imagine the challenges and negativity from other colleagues that she may have faced. She is not only an inspiration to the scientific community, but a true leader for women and all people to push for what you believe in regardless of the consequences. I am very interested in learning more about her hopefully in class and then on my own as well.

  125. Andrew Miles says:

    What an excellent tribute to both Rachael Carson and Earth Day. It’s amazing what kind of effect one person’s actions can have on the entire world. Thanks to Ms. Carson, a cascading domino effect was set into motion for the greater good of our planet. It seems as if all we hear about in environmental classes are the problems ahead – some of which you mentioned – but it is also good to take a look back at the incredible progress that has been made in the last fifty years.

  126. Annelise Libera says:

    After studying various environmental policies and movements in different classes, it is funny to me that we rarely talk about the people behind them. I have heard about Rachel Carson and Silent Spring in one or two classes, but never knew about her struggle to start an environmental movement. I definitely want to read her book and learn about more environmentalists who put themselves and their reputation out there for the good of others and the environment. It’s very encouraging to see how we have progressed as a country since the 60’s and I hope that we can continue to educate people through organizations that focus on environmental protection and remediation.

  127. Parker Ballam says:

    As much of an impact as Rachel Carson’s efforts to improve both human and environmental health had, it is sad to some of the more fundamental aspects of her work become irrelevant or completely ignored in today’s society. For example, the use of pesticides, herbicides and various fertilizers is still a continuous occurrence. While the composition of these chemicals is more environmentally friendly, the sheer amount needed to supply the growing demand for food and subsequent crops is causing disasters such as algae blooms that have no one company to blame. Unfortunately, many see the need to satisfy their own desires, whether it be resources or money, without consideration for the externalities. The EPA and organizations inspired by Rachel, however, are, to this day, fighting for improved BMPs regarding this issue. You’re right, there is still much to learn. The aquatic life has Rachel Carson to thank for the continuing efforts.

  128. Alex Macfarlane says:

    Before any consideration of man-made products having possible negative effects on the environment, chemicals and bi-product waste were disposed of freely. The world seemed so vast that it could not be affected by man kinds choices. Rachel Carson may not have been the first to recognize how DDT bio-accumulated but she was the first to bring it to the public’s attention, regardless of how many opposed her views. Thankfully others took notice in the truth she spoke and action was taken to ban the use of DDT. Even though I was not alive to witness these changes first hand, the laws and agencies that were created currently consider my health and the environment that I reside in today. I am thankful for Rachel Carson because Silent Spring created checks and balances for what we release into the environment, in turn keeping my family, friends and myself healthy.

  129. This blog shows a passion and drive behind the issue of DDT and Rachel Carson herself. Rachel Carson has had such a major impact on the environmental industry as well as the world today. She is so courageous and has really inspired me as a women to stand up for what I believe in in a male dominated world. This issue has definitely brought awareness to the public, because people can now tell that everything that is new isn’t necessarily safe or right for the environment. DDT itself caused more harm than what was initially intended. After reading this I can honestly say I understand why she is your hero. Before this class I had never heard of her or her accomplishments, but I can honestly say she deserves all the recognition and acknowledgments she gets for Silent Spring. I have not read Silent Spring myself however after reading this I can honestly say that I am more inclined to do so.

  130. I loved reading this tribute to Rachel Carson. It’s inspiring to see a witness of environmental degradation feel passionate enough to demand a change. Her raising other people’s awareness awakened a movement in our society and served as a much needed reminder of our connection to and impact on the natural world around us. This also serves as a positive reminder of the restoration we have achieved in the past 50 years; although we have a long way to go, individuals such as Rachel Carson are an example that it is possible to change our actions on a large scale. It can be discouraging knowing all the damage that we have done but through passion and knowledge we can continue to restore our natural world.

  131. The first day of class, you asked us, “Who are your environmental heroes?” I was unsure of my response because I never truly sat down and thought about that. After reading this blog, I want to begin researching more about Rachel Carson. She saved many lives by standing up in court and publishing “Silent Spring.” Her motivation to change the way we treat our world inspires me to become more of an environmental activist myself. The actions she took to stop the sale of certain pesticides has helped the environment and populations everywhere. Throughout all of my classes, I’ve learned about policies, laws, and organizations. We never actually talked about the people or the actions they took to create those changes. This blog urges me to research backgrounds and information about the things I learn in class now. When I begin doing that, I hope to find my own environmental hero.

  132. Silent Spring was one of the first books that I was required to read in high school but truly ended up loving. I find Rachel Carson’s voice and resilience to be inspiring in all aspects of my life. I think this article as well as Rachel’s work show the need for systems thinking in today’s society. With new technologies and solutions constantly emerging, it is absolutely crucial that we look at all possible effects. DDT appeared as a quick fix for malaria but Rachel Carson saw the unintended negative effects emerging and had to fight for her voice to be heard. Hopefully her work can continue to serve as a lesson for us as we take on the problems arising in today’s world.

  133. Sean McArdle says:

    I’ve heard of Rachel Carson a few times throughout my educational career, but I’ve never learned about her extensive accomplishments and persistent personality. What she has done for environmental awareness is truly honorable and her actions are something that both professionals and scholars can look up to. What caught my attention in this post was the quote, “…we are moving in the right direction; it’s not at the pace we’d like, but nonetheless, we are moving in the right direction.” I could not agree more. If we stay motivated and progress quickly towards our goals, then the health of both our society and environment will improve.

  134. Matthew McCarter says:

    This was a great tribute to a woman who did amazing things. She paved the way for environmentalist everywhere and raised society awareness about the damage we were doing to the environment. To see how far we have come in the last 50 years gives me hope for the future. As a society we have a long way to go with improving our environmental impact, but if people can follow the example set Rachel Carson we can make a global change.

  135. Aaron Bouchard says:

    Before you’re class I had never heard of the book silent spring. This blog post about the book and Rachel Carson’s life has impacted me and convinced me to read the book. I am grateful for all of the beautiful rivers and mountains that have been preserved because of this amazing woman. She has motivated me to become more aware and thankful for the nature we have around us.

  136. Clark Siebels says:

    Rachel Carson was a remarkable woman that stood for movements and ideas that were way before her time. Thanks to her hard work and willingness to stand for what she believed was right, we can now treasure the beauty and uniqueness this country has to offer in terms of our natural wonders. Thanks to her, we have numerous conservation and preservation agencies that work to save and protect our environment for generations to come.

  137. Hunter Hart says:

    It’s really interesting how much Silent Spring is mentioned in the realm of environmental science. Science teachers from middle school to college have mentioned what a significant impact the book has made on our culture. Carson was one of the first voices in the environmental movement of the 1960s, and without her courage the life we live today would without a doubt be much worse. She connected a generation to the entity that supports them and taught how everyday actions manifest themselves in the state of our environment. As the next generation, one that will bear the burden of climate change, we should strive to do the same as Carson and examine our decisions and the effects they will have on the world.

  138. Thomas Vasilopoulos says:

    The muckraking that Rachel Carson did which unearthed the truth about these toxic chemicals like DDT, agent orange, etc, is a testament to the need for foresight in a scientific, political, industrial, economic or project of any type. We do not often consider the systemic and long-term impacts of our choices, but it is super important to act with awareness and use a holistic approach in all things, especially when it comes to projects and discoveries of considerable magnitude. The environmental enlightenment and planetary shift in focus that has occurred as a result of her work is incredible, bravo, Rachael Carson! Your impact continues to resonate in all directions.

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