Who was Rachel Carson?

Recently I saw a documentary on PBS about Rachel Carson. I had previously not been aware of her significant influence she had on the way we think about the environment. Through her writing, she was able to bring to life the underwater world, described the environmental changes related to the oceans and raise the consciousness of the negative impacts of widespread pesticide use.


“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Ms. Carson studied nature and shares stories of the undersea world. She was a master of interacting with scientists, incorporating her own knowledge and experiences and then putting those experiences into books which later became best sellers.


“The current vogue for poisons has failed utterly to take into account these most fundamental considerations. As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways. These extraordinary capacities of life have been ignored by the practitioners of chemical control who have brought to their task no high-minded orientation, no humility before the vast forces with which they tamper.”

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

I recall experiences of being a child and receiving a notice in the mail that the pesticide truck would be going through the neighborhood and spraying. I recall seeing the truck and the gas that was dispersed from the vehicle. The intention was to eradicate mosquitos and other disease carrying insects; with the goal of improving the health of humans. A long time later we found out that those chemicals actually are harmful to humans.

Rachel Carson opened the eyes of her readers to the consideration that those chemicals that were used in mass were not necessarily all good. In that the simple killing of insects and the wide spread use, may have other harmful effects.


I encourage everyone to explore Rachel Carson’s impact on the world – see the documentary and read her books.  She was an environmentalist, social revolutionary and impactful scientist.


Written by: Patricia Beaumont

Image By: U.S. Department of Agriculture , 20120106-OC-AMW-0645

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