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Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson Photo

Rachel Carson was born on 27th May 1907, in Pennsylvania. She grew up on a farm, which is why she was so well tuned with nature and had a deep sensitivity and understanding of it. She did her graduation from the Pennsylvania College for Women in 1929 and later went to study at Johns Hopkins University.

Environmental Activism

In 1936, Carson joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service but prior to that, she spent almost 5 years teaching at the University of Maryland. In 1941 her first book, Under the Sea-Wind was published. Under the Sea-Wind was undoubtedly one of the simplest yet most enchanting compilations of prose. In 1951 her second book, The Sea Around Us was published and became an instant hit, while also making her rich in the process. The Sea Around Us could undoubtedly be called the biography of the sea.

Post-WWII in the 1950’s, Rachel Carson started her research into how the use of pesticides and fertilizers were affecting the food chain. This research was part of her book; Silent Spring published in1962, which questioned the widespread use of pesticides like DDT (later banned). The book resulted in a presidential commission which strongly endorsed Carson’s findings and helped in developing an environmental consciousness in the minds of decision makers.

In 1955, Carson’s fourth book; The Edge of the Sea was published and it focused on the ecosystems along the eastern coastline between Maine and Florida. Out of all her books, The Edge of the Sea can truly be deemed a true reflection of life in and near the sea. The book is a compilation of discoveries made within the sea with the help of submarine technology. It explains natural phenomena’s such as the formation of islands,  water currents, effects of temperature change on marine life and the impacts of erosion on shorelines, salinity, and marine populations.

Carson’s work was not just limited to the deep sea, in fact on reading her works; one comes to understand her respect for nature and a much wider environmental ethic. Her work dealt with issues like greenhouse gases, rising sea-levels, melting glaciers, dwindling bird and animal populations and the erosion of geological faults.

After WWII, Carson took up the advocacy of nature by exposing the grave implication of using chemical pesticides in agriculture. She addressed the threat of harmful chemical exposure to not just humans but wildlife as well. She questioned the logic of men need to dominate nature as his best option for survival on earth. In her book Silent Spring, she is seen to be questioning why humans need to control nature, and why they get to decide which species lives and which dies and the senseless plundering of earth’s natural resources. In view of her work and its findings, Carson was made to testify before Congress in 1963, in which she emphasized on the need for new policies to protect not just human health but the environment as well. She was fiercely attacked by the pesticide and fertilizer industries for being an alarmist, but she stood her ground and reminded people that they were just as vulnerable to the damage they were causing to any other part of nature since, in the end, we are all part of the same ecosystem.


Rachel Carson is definitely one of the most brilliant and well-read nature writers and marine biologist the world has ever seen. Rachel Carson died of breast cancer on 14th April 1964. She will forever be remembered as a true friend of nature, a passionate environmental activist and a preserver of future generations. “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Rachel Carson

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