Rachel Carson And How She Pioneered Ecology and Environmentalism

Long before Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth sounded the alarm about global warming, Rachel Carson had her ear to the ground, and alerted the world to mankind’s devastating impact on nature. In her seminal 1962 work Silent Spring, Carson documented the damages of synthetic pesticides, especially DDT to the food chain, animal life, water supply, and human genetics. Carson promoted and defended her book while dying of cancer, and passed away at age 56 in 1964. The inventor of DDT won a Nobel Prize, and it was no small thing to take on the chemical industry. The attacks against her are still perpetrated to this day.

Born in a small American factory town, Carson a former teacher, was a scientific editor and aquatic biologist, who went on to be a popular bestselling author of nature books, before tackling the issue of the indiscriminate use of chemicals and its effect on both the environment, and human health. Inspired by a letter from a friend about aerial crop spraying and widespread bird death in Cape Cod, she spend years researching the topic, bolstered by her own work as a biologist, her book contained 50 pages of citations and was fact checked by a long list of experts.

Monsanto, and other giant chemical companies rushed to discredit her and attack her character, among other things she was criticized for being unmarried and without children. A persistent criticism to this day is that her “false alarm against DDT” resulted in millions of deaths from malaria, despite the fact that mosquitos developed a resistance to DDT, and many experts believe bed netting is the best defence against the virus.

Rachel Carson was a pioneer in ecology and environmentalism. Her work is credited with founding the Environmental Protection Agency and establishing Earth Day. Risking the ire of powerful industry to be one of the first voices of defense for our increasingly fragile planet, Rachel Carson galvanized us to protect ourselves from dangerous chemicals. At a time when sea levels are rising, the arctic ice is melting, and not everyone is on board about the threat of global warming, we need voices like Rachel Carson’s more than ever. Here are 10 of Rachel Carson’s most inspiring quotations.

  1. “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

  1. “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

  1. “It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.” ― Rachel Carson

  1. “In nature nothing exists alone.” ― Rachel Carson

  1. “But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.”―Rachel Carson

  1. “One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?” ― Rachel Carson

  1. “It is not half so important to know as to feel.” ― Rachel Carson

  1. “We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.” ― Rachel Carson

  1. “The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.” ― Rachel Carson

  1. “Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species — man — acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world. ” ― Rachel Carson

Author Bio: Tara Collum

Tara Collum lives in Toronto and grew up in Muskoka. She is the volunteer social media coordinator for the Death Row Support Project @COB_DRSP and co-writes a web serial at splitsvilleblog.wordpress.com. She is all about tea, books, mumblecore, music, long walks, and self-improvement. Follow Tara on twitter @99percentsun