Earth Day and Rachel Carson’s Legacy


Photo of workers preparin for the first Earth Day at the headquarters of the Environmental Action Coalition in a New York Theological Seminary building (1970) by John Sotomayor/The New York Times/Redux. It’s hard to believe, but a bipartisan political effort resulted in the creation of Earth Day in 1970 and the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency. On that day, millions of school children set off in bell bottom jeans to clean up litter. The book credited with this groundswell of environmental awareness was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Initially published in 1962, Silent Spring alerted Americans to environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides. Also available on CD and as an eBook.

Also available is Rachel Caron’s Silent Spring in DVD, a biographical look at the environmentalist and her prolific body of work, which first aired on public television.

The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement describes Carson’s evolution from farm girl to graduate student at Johns Hopkins and her career with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Her first book, Under a Sea Wind and The Sea Around Us solidified her as a premier nature writer, but she risked her fame to write her "poison book" and become the leading adversary of the pesticide industry.

A Critical Look at Rachel Carson

A collection of reactionary essays in Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson reflects on the influence of Rachel Carson's landmark environmental text, Silent Spring. Published through the CATO Institute, the authors’ views reflect their libertarian ideological commitment to free-market economics. Most of the essays criticize how Carson differently values the environment, economic motivations, and her ecological criticisms of the economically profitable green revolution. The book also posits that a number of Carson’s major arguments rested on deliberate ignorance and significant errors and sins of omission.

Celebrate Earth Day at the Library

Photo credit: John Sotomayor/The New York Times/Redux


Author Bio:

Paula Hess is a Brisbane Public Library Intern and participated in the first Earth Day with her classmates in the last century.

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