Rachel Louise Carson

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Rachel Louise Carson

Born: May 27, 1907
in Springdale, Pennsylvania

Died: April 14, 1964 
in Silver Spring, Maryland

Rachel Carson, writer, scientist, and ecologist, grew up simply in the rural river town of Springdale, Pennsylvania. Her mother bequeathed to her a life-long love of nature and the living world that Rachel expressed first as a writer and later as a student of marine biology. Carson graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College) in 1929, studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and received her MA in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932.

She was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries to write radio scripts during the Depression and supplemented her income writing feature articles on natural history for the Baltimore Sun. She began a fifteen-year career in the federal service as a scientist and editor in 1936 and rose to become Editor-in-Chief of all publications for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

She wrote pamphlets on conservation and natural resources and edited scientific articles, but in her free time turned her government research into lyric prose, first as an article “Undersea” (1937, for the Atlantic Monthly), and then in a book,Under the Sea-wind (1941). In 1952 she published her prize-winning study of the ocean, The Sea Around Us, which was followed by The Edge of the Sea in 1955. These books constituted a biography of the ocean and made Carson famous as a naturalist and science writer for the public. Carson resigned from government service in 1952 to devote herself to her writing.

She wrote several other articles designed to teach people about the wonder and beauty of the living world, including “Help Your Child to Wonder,” (1956) and “Our Ever-Changing Shore” (1957), and planned another book on the ecology of life. Embedded within all of Carson’s writing was the view that human beings were but one part of nature distinguished primarily by their power to alter it, in some cases irreversibly.

Disturbed by the profligate use of synthetic chemical pesticides after World War II, Carson reluctantly changed her focus in order to warn the public about the long term effects of misusing pesticides. In Silent Spring (1962) she challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, and called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world.

Carson was attacked by the chemical industry and some in government as an alarmist, but courageously spoke out to remind us that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem. Testifying before Congress in 1963, Carson called for new policies to protect human health and the environment. Rachel Carson died in 1964 after a long battle against breast cancer. Her witness for the beauty and integrity of life continues to inspire new generations to protect the living world and all its creatures.

Biographical entry courtesy of Carson biographer © Linda Lear, 1998, author ofRachel Carson: Witness for Nature (1997).

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Google loves birds today!

Happy birthday to Rachel Carson.

Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

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May 27 marks the 107th anniversary of the birth of Rachel Louise Carson, the environmentalist whose research led to the 1972 banning, in the United States, of [DDT].

The American-born marine biologist and writer is best known for her 1962 book Silent Spring, which is credited with launching the global contemporary environmental movement.

Silent Spring focuses on the impact of synthetic pesticides on the environment—with the title referring to the absence of birdsong across swathes of agricultural landscape following the widespread introduction of pesticides and other intensive farming practices.

The book sparked a public outcry, bringing to widespread attention the effects of these chemicals both on the ecosystem and on human health.

Although her research was attacked by chemical companies, a decade after her book was published, and years after her death, her book led to a nationwide ban of DDT, a colourless and crystalline organochloride with insecticidal properties, and other pesticides. Silent Spring demonstrated that these pesticides could cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly to birds.

Reprinted from The Independent

Rachel Louise Carson: Google doodle celebrates environmentalist author whose 'Silent Spring' led to pesticides ban

Google have continued their recent run of doodles celebrating eminent female scientists with an image to mark the 107th anniversary of the birth of Rachel Carson.

Carson, who was born in Pennsylvania on 27 May 1907, trained and worked as a marine biologist, but she is best know for Silent Spring, the book that is widely credited with launching the modern global environmental movement.

The 1962 book focused on the impact of synthetic pesticides on the environment - with the title referring to the absence of birdsong across swathes of agricultural landscape following the widespread introduction of pesticides and other intensive farming practices.

The search engine’s image shows Carson in the field, with binoculars, rucksack and notebook, surrounded by just the type of thriving ecosystem she warned the world - accurately, as it turned out - it risked losing. Animals include a seal, a turtle and crab, while birds depicted include a pelican, a tern and a heron.