Rachel Louise Carson was born 107 years ago today in Springdale, Pa.
Carson is the author of "Silent Spring," the 1962 book that looked at the poisonous effects of pesticides on our ecosystem. The book's cry of alarm propelled it onto bestseller lists for three years, and is often credited with sparking the contemporary environmental movement.
It was still a bestseller when its author, who was diagnosed with
Sixteen years later, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Brought up in rural Pennsylvania, Carson trained as a biologist and journalist, getting a master's degree in zoology from
Her first books focused on the ocean: "Under the Sea-Wind" was published in 1941, "The Sea Around Us" in 1951 and, in 1955, "The Edge of the Sea."
In "Silent Spring," Carson turned her attention to man's effect on the land and was a fierce advocate for maintaining the balance of nature. She documented how pesticides, particularly DDT, killed insects and then worked their way into the natural world; a "silent spring" is what she imagined would come of a future without birds -- and worse.
Her reputation as an author and biologist was by then firmly in place: "The Sea Around Us" won the National Book Award and had been a bestseller. So when excerpts of "Silent Spring" appeared in the New Yorker magazine, kicking off intense debate even before the book was on store shelves, Carson was able to hold her ground.
She was called to testify before
When Carson's book was published, many of the environmental protections we now take for granted were not in place. The