Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy 50th Birthday "Silent Spring" by FWS Historian Mark Madison


Welcome to the WILD READ book discussion on Silent Spring perhaps the most important book written in the history of the environmental movement.  I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this.

I am excited to be the first moderator for this book as those of us in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) consider Rachel Carson one of our own.  Carson worked for the agency for 16 years (from 1936-1952), longer than she did anything else in her life.  Much of her work for the agency helped inform Silent Spring.  The new miracle pesticide DDT had first been used in World War II and was heralded as scientific panacea—both crops and picnics could now be pest free.  Yet almost immediately after its introduction, scientists at the FWS began to notice the troubling effects of DDT on birds and fish.  Carson wrote her first press release on the dangers of DDT in 1945 and for the next 17 years she collected damning evidence as to its detrimental effects.  The result of her research and passion is Silent Spring (1962). 

When I was in Middle School (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) we were assigned Silent Spring and I remember my classmates being horrified and energized by Carson’s prose.  I am afraid the book is not much read today, which is a pity as Carson offers advice on many environmental maladies of today. 

As we read (or re-read) this book together I would like to hear your answers to a few questions:

Do you think this book still has relevance today?

Who is the best audience for this book?

Is this primarily a science book or a philosophical book?

I look forward to reading your observations and hearing your opinion of this groundbreaking environmental book!

For more information about Rachel Carson and Silent Spring:  Linda Lear and  her biography: Rachel Carson: Witness to Nature (1998) and William Souder's On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson (2012).

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Ed Darrell said...

I left a comment this morning . . . where's the discussion? Is the thread lost in moderation, perhaps?

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This had promise. What happened?

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