Alex Peek blog

List of posts    Blog archive    About


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Rachel Carson and ecology


Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was an American biologist best known for her book Silent Spring (1962) and her contributions to environmentalism. Wikipedia says,


"Although Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide bad on DDT and other pesticides. It also inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency." (Wikipedia: Rachel Carson, 7.28.21 UTC 15:40)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Carson.


Poetry and science


"The winds, the sea, and the moving tides are what they are. If there is wonder and beauty and majesty in them, science will discover these qualities. If they are not there, science cannot create them. If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry." (Acceptance speech of the National Book Award for Nonfiction, 1952)




"Once the emotions have been aroused - a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love - then we wish for knowledge about the subject of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning." (The Sense of Wonder, 1965)


"Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life... Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." (The Sense of Wonder, 1965)


Silent Spring


"Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song." (Silent Spring, 1962)


"These sprays, dusts, and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests, and homes - nonselective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the 'good' and the 'bad', to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, to coat the leaves with a deadly film, and to linger on in soil - all this through the intended target may be only a few weeds or insects." (Silent Spring, 1962)


Ecology and resources


"The real wealth of the Nation lies in the resources of the earth - soil, water, forests, minerals, and wildlife. To utilize them for present needs while insuring their preservation for future generations requires a delicately balanced and continuing program, based on the most extensive research. Their administration is not properly, and cannot be, a matter of politics." (Letter to the editor, Washington Post, 1953)


"Only within the 20th century has biological thought been focused on ecology, or the relation of the living creature to its environment. Awareness of ecological relationships is - or should be - the basis of modern conservation programs, for it is useless to attempt to preserve a living species unless the kind of land or water it requires is also preserved." (Essay on the Biological Sciences, 1958)


"Intoxicated with a sense of his own power, he seems to be going farther and farther into more experiments for the destruction of himself and his world." (Speech accepting the John Burroughs Medal, 1952)


"Man's future welfare and probably even his survival depend upon his learning to live in harmony, rather than in combat, with these forces." (Essay on the Biological Sciences, 1958)


Animal rights


"I shall have to express a very deep conviction: that until we have courage to recognize cruelty for what it is - whether its victim is human or animal - we cannot expect things to be much better in the world. There can be no double standard. We cannot have peace among men whose hearts find delight in killing any living creature." (Letter to Fon Boardman)