10 Things You Should Know About Rachel Carson


"Silent Spring" Was Groundbreaking

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
The state of Maine honored Rachel Carson for her tireless efforts in environmental work in 1966 by establishing the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Library of Congress

Carson's essay "Silent Spring" was serialized in the New Yorker in 1962 and caused an immediate sensation. Many, including the esteemed author, E.B. White, declared it one of the best and most important pieces ever published in the magazine. When it came out as a book, it shot to the top of the bestseller list and instigated a national debate about the dangers of pesticides.

Asked about the controversy, President John F. Kennedy cited Carson's book as an important factor. Vested interests, particularly companies that manufactured products like DDT, went into attack mode, doing their best to discredit Carson as an amateur and a communist (she was demonstrably neither).

To the chagrin of her detractors, Carson's conclusions were backed up by the findings of President Kennedy's Science Advisory Committee Report. As a result, the use of DDT and other pesticides were heavily regulated. "Silent Spring" is widely credited with having sparked the modern environmental movement and laid the foundation for creating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).