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(1907-1964) SHE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A WRITER, BUT A COLLEGE A BIOLOGY CLASS CHANGED THE COURSE OF HER LIFE, AND SOME SAY, THE COURSE OF THIS PLANET.
The small town teemed with life. Birds, fish and healthy farms were abundant. Then one spring, the birds stopped singing. The town was still, the insects disappeared, and the fish and farms and people mysteriously fell ill. It was, wrote Rachel Carson, a silent spring. "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world," she wrote, "The people had done it themselves."
Rachel Carson never intended to become a crusader, but in 1958, when the birds in a friend's private sanctuary were mysteriously dying, she wanted to know why. Her research gave rise to, the book "Silent Spring" which laid out how DDT and other chemicals were killing lakes, rivers, oceans...and people. Chemical companies, big business and government called Carson an alarmist, and waged a full-scale attack on her credibility. But the book was a best seller, and forever changed the way the public viewed the environment.
Carson's love of nature and passion for writing shaped not just a career but a whole movement. Carson began her career in 1932, writing radio scripts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and rose to head of publications. Meanwhile she wrote magazine and newspaper articles, and books about the wonders of the earth. Her eloquent style opened the world of science and nature to lay people everywhere. But after World War II, Rachel Carson's work changed. Concerned with the increased use of dangerous pesticides she devoted the rest of her life to informing the public about the need to protect the planet.
Rachel Carson died of breast cancer two years after 'Silent Spring' was published; before the ban on DDT, the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency or the rise of environmentalism-all directly attributed to her work. Today this gifted writer and naturalist is known the world over as the Mother of the modern environmental movement.
Credits: Image is courtesy of the Lear/Carson Collection, Charles E. Shain Library, Connecticut College
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