Fifty years ago today, Rachel Carson changed the world with her book, Silent Spring, which took on the chemical industry and questioned the United States’ untamed approach to pesticide use at the time.
The book’s publication led to newfound awareness of the effects of chemicals on our wildlife and public health and federal regulations on toxic chemicals like DDT.
To celebrate the anniversary, here’s a roundup of our most recent articles about Carson:
Rachel Carson and JFK, an Environmental Tag Team
Around the time she published Silent Spring, Carson found an ally in President John F Kennedy, who cared deeply about marine conservation issues and whose administration publicly supported her work. Douglas Brinkley explains in our May-June 2012 issue.
Is DDT Here to Stay?
Silent Spring documented in clear ways the startling effects of DDT on both human health and wildlife, eventually leading to a ban on most uses. But some critics claim that banning the chemical, which was used to treat malaria, has led to the deaths of millions who no longer have access to the treatment.
Frank Graham Jr. wrote a follow up to Silent Spring in 1970, defending the author against the attacks she received from the chemical industry after the book was published. Photo: Suzie Fitzhugh
Since Silent Spring: Reflecting on Rachel Carson’s Legacy
In our May-June 2012 issue, Audubon field editor Frank Graham Jr., author of Since Silent Spring, a sequel to the groundbreaking book, discusses Carson’s enduring work.
We’ve also reviewed a few books that focus on Carson’s work and life:
Frank Graham Jr. reviews Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement and Courage for the Earth: Writers, Scientists, and Activists Celebrate the Life and Writing of Rachel Carson. Read his essay here.
Carson’s bold career has also made it to the pages of children’s books. Senior editor Julie Leibach reviews Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World here and Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson here.
And our Rachel Carson Awards honor women leaders who are carrying on the torch in conservation. You can read about the honorees here.
Janette Sadik-Khan won the Rachel Carson Award in 2012. Photo: Olugbenro Photography
BONUS: Click here to listen to an audio interview from Living on Earth with field editor Frank Graham Jr. discussing how Carson's book influenced pesticide regulation and use in the United States.