Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Silent Spring

Book: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Published: 1962

Description: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century. (from

My Thoughts: Wow! This was a beautifully written, passionate condemnation of pesticide use. It also addressed the attitude that led to pesticide use: the idea that nature exists solely for humans to shape as they will for their comfort and convenience. Even if the pesticide use has diminished since 1962, the attitude, I would argue, has not gone away.

Silent Spring was well researched, and had good science. But it was also written in a way that was both beautiful and understandable to anyone, with any amount of science background. This book is the ultimate proof that however much scientists know about something and no matter how harmful that something is, they als need someone to tell people about what they've found in a way that can be understood. Carson was that rare person who was both a scientist and capable of writing for the general public. 

Carson also offers multiple viable alternatives to pesticide use, and pointed out that apart from being amazingly toxic to everything and very expensive, pesticides weren't working--insects were gaining resistance! She acknowledged the concerns of the farmers and ranchers, and provided them with alternatives. Her attitude reminded me of the parable of the manager (Luke 16:1-13)--be pragmatic, not just high and mighty!

Silent Spring is a classic in environmental literature that is both condemnatory of the human destruction of the environment and wonderfully written (reading this made me want to read all of Carson's other books). Highly recommended!! 

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