27 May Happy Birthday Blog: Rachel Carson
Born: May 27, 1907
Springdale, Pennsylvania, USA
Known For: Marine biologist and conservationist.
Rachel Carson is best known for the award-winning and policy-influencing book ‘Silent Spring.’ Born in a small town near Pittsburgh, PA, Carson grew up around nature and with a fascination for reading and writing. The combination of these loves would lead to her career at the US Bureau of Fisheries and her eventual success as a published author.
Carson graduated from the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) in 1929. From there she progressed to a Master’s degree in Zoology from John Hopkins University in 1932. She spent several years taking care of her family before she was offered a position at the US Bureau of Fisheries. While Carson wrote public reports for the Bureau, she also wrote articles for The Baltimore Sun and other newspapers and journals.
The combination of her love of the ocean and her skill at writing began to garner more attention. Several publishers expressed interest in her writings and eventually she published her first book ‘Under the Sea Wind’ in 1941. Carson continued to publish books throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and then her interest in nature turned toward conservation.
By late 1957, she spent a lot of time following the development and use of pesticides and other spraying chemicals. For the rest of her life, she devoted her work to ensuring the limited use of pesticides. In 1962, she published ‘Silent Spring’, which so thoroughly described the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment that it is widely considered to have started the modern environmental movement.
The culmination of over two decades of work, ‘Silent Spring’ changed the way the US government dealt with and used pesticides. The most direct result of her work was the banning of DDT in the US. Her work also influenced the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. Carson died from cancer in 1964, but her legacy continues to this day.
For all her contributions to the environment and our marine education, we wish her a very happy birthday.
Learn more about Rachel here.