Rachel Carson

"Mother of the Environmental Movement"
National Women's Hall of Fame
1980 Presidential Medal of Freedom
Points of Light Foundation Extra Mile Honoree

birthdate: May 27
Springdale, Pennsylvania

Rachel Carson was a scientist, ecologist and writer who is regarded by many as the mother of the environmental movement. In 1992, a panel chose her last book, Silent Spring as the most influential book of the past 50 years - it had awakened many to environmental concerns and helped inspire the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. An earlier book, The Sea Around Us, remained on the best seller list every week for seven years, allowing Rachel Carson to leave her job as editor-in-chief of publications for the US Fish & Wildlife Service and devote herself to writing full-time. When birds began dying in a friend's bird sanctuary, Rachel Carson began studying the effects of pesticides on the environment. This became her passion and greatest concern and the topic of her epic, Silent Spring. She wrote about the interconnectedness and interdependence of all life, and the damage that humans were doing to the Earth's ecosystem. She showed that using pesticides like DDT to kill insects introduced poisons into the food chain, which could have far-reaching consequences for the whole ecosystem, including humans. She urged the use of more natural organic pesticides that cause less harm to the environment. Although her life was lost to cancer at much too young an age, it has not silenced her voice - a global army of environmentalists were inspired to carry on the call for more sustainable environmental practices.

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