Remembering Rachel Carson

Earth Day seems an appropriate time to recall past leaders in environmental thought.  Few have played a greater role in the development of U.S. environmental law than Rachel Carson (1907-1964), whose books did much to spark the environmental movement.  It is good to hear that her books have been reprinted as ebooks by Open Road Media in time for Earth Day, seventy years after she published her first book. I still remember reading The Sea Around Us and Silent Spring when I was in high school.

Carson was a marine biologist who Carson joined the U.S. Bureau of Fish and Wildlife Service, where she worked for fifteen years as a scientist, editor, and editor-in-chief of the bureau’s publications.

Carson once expressed her philosophy as follows:

We still talk in terms of conquest. We still haven’t become mature enough to think of ourselves as only a tiny part of a vast and incredible universe. Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have now acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature.

“But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself. The rains have become an instrument to bring down from the atmosphere the deadly products of atomic explosions. Water, which is probably our most important natural resource, is now used and re-used with incredible recklessness.

Now, I truly believe, that we in this generation, must come to terms with nature, and I think we’re challenged as mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves.

For those who want to learn more, Carson hand her work have been the subject of a number of books:

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Reader Comments

One Reply to “Remembering Rachel Carson”

  1. Carson also made it into pop culture in a way that no environmental writer ever had before — or perhaps since. My first memory of her came from reading a Peanuts cartoon, where Lucy says that she will have a higher batting average because Rachel Carson signed her baseball bat. Later, when Linus (my favorite character) complains about the rain, Lucy admonishes him that “Rachel Carson says that when the oceans were being formed, it rained for years or even centuries!” If it was good enough for Peanuts, it was good enough for me — and, I imagine, thousands of other kids.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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