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"The more clearly we can focus our attention on
the wonders and realities of the universe about us,
the less taste we shall have for destruction."
-- Rachel Carson © 1954
Rachel Carson was born on May 27, 1907, and raised on a farm throughout her childhood days in Springdale, Pennsylvania. During her childhood, her mother would encourage her to explore the natural surroundings and write about anything that appealed to her. In so doing, she had her first story published when she was in the fourth grade. The story was called “A Battle in the Clouds,” which appeared in the St. Nicholas Magazine. Miss Carson was the youngest of three children. Her role model when she was younger was her mother. Her mother introduced the “outer world” to Carson as a child. She says if it wasn’t for her mother, she wouldn’t be as interested in the environment as she was. Rachel Carson graduated from the Pennsylvania College for Women (which is now Chatham College), in 1929. She studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and received her MA in zoology from John Hopkins University in 1932.
After her education, Carson was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries to write radio scripts during the Depression and benefited her income writing articles on natural history for the Baltimore Sun. The radio show entitled, “Romance Under the Waters,” in which she was able to explore life under the seas and bring it to the listeners of the show. In 1936, after being the first woman to take and pass the civil service test, the Bureau of Fisheries hired her as a full-time junior biologist, and over the next 15 years, she was promoted frequently, until she was the chief editor of all publications for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Rachel Carson’s remarkable contributions to the field of biology led to her being called upon to defend and save what she most loved. When Rachel Carson began to investigate the widespread use of pesticides, she knew that birds and other wild animals were being poisoned and dying slowly, one-by-one. She said that a man that once wrote to her, died of leukemia, as a direct result of having his tent sprayed with DDT on a tenting trip. Miss Carson claimed that no one was speaking up, and facts were being hidden. When she found information on this case, she attempted to have them published, but the magazines refused to put her findings in them. What most people say her greatest contribution is, is not only the contribution to the field of science, but to the contribution of not only changing lives, but also saving them.
During the 1940s, Carson began to write books on her observation of the life under the sea. She resigned from her government position in 1952, and devoted all her time to writing. The idea for her most famous book, Silent Spring, came into view, and she began writing it in 1957. It was published in 1962, and influenced President Kennedy, who had read it, to call for testing of the chemicals mentioned in the book. Carson has been called the mother of the modern environmental movement.
Carson went on to write The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea, and finally Silent Spring in 1962. Her science and nature writing was published in magazines. The Sea Around Us won the National Book Award in 1951, and that year she received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. She was able to retire in 1952, living off her writing. Her books brought her great fame, which she disliked. The fame was both positive and negative. In the process of Silent Spring, which described the dangers of pesticides such as DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons, she was attacked personally and as a scientist by many. She mostly did not pay any attention, but let the book speak for itself. In one interview, however, she was asked by someone making the link between pesticides and agricultural output, "Miss Carson, what do you eat?" And she replied, "Chlorinated hydrocarbons like everyone else."
Miss Rachel Carson was an opponent of the use of pesticides on living things. She thought by the use of the pesticides it would affect the
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Counterculture of the 1960s, Rachel Carson, Pesticides, Guggenheim Fellows, Silent Spring, The Sea Around Us, DDT, Shirley Briggs, Ben Carson
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