Rachel Carson and the Book that Changed the World

Today is the birthday of Rachel Carson, who was born May 27, 1907.  By the early 1950s she was a popular and respected nature and science writer, but her fourth book raised a public alarm that was heard around the world.  That book, published in 1962 after four years of research, was Silent Spring.

Silent Spring brought environmental concerns to the American public and helped launch the environmental movement that continues today.  The book described the impact of man-made chemicals on the environment, particularly the impact of chemical pesticides on the bird population.  While the content of Carson’s work is still debated more than 50 years later, its impact on environmental policies is without question.  Silent Spring led to the American ban on DDT and other pesticides for agricultural purposes, as well as the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The real wealth of the Nation lies in the resources of the earth – soil, water, forests, minerals and wildlife,” Carson said.  “Man’s future welfare and probably even his survival depend upon his learning to live in harmony, rather than in combat, with these forces.”

Today, Agilent’s markets include food safety and environmental health.  Agilent President and CEO Bill Sullivan often jokes, “I graduated with a degree in environmental science because I wanted to save the world, but I discovered that the world didn’t want to be saved back then.  I’m not so sure it wants to be saved even now.”


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