Who Was Rachel Carson?
Biologist Rachel Carson alerted the world to the environmental impact of fertilizers and pesticides. Her best-known book, Silent Spring, led to a presidential commission that largely endorsed her findings and helped to shape a growing environmental consciousness. Carson died of cancer in 1964 and is remembered as an early activist who worked to preserve the world for future generations.
Early Life and Education
Marine biologist, environmentalist and writer Rachel Carson was born on May 27, 1907, in Springdale, Pennsylvania. Carson first alerted the world about the environmental impact of fertilizers and pesticides. She grew up on a Pennsylvania farm, which gave her a lot of first-hand knowledge of nature and wildlife. She graduated from the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College) in 1929, and went on to further studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Carson taught at the University of Maryland for five years before joining the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1936. Her first book, Under the Sea-Wind (1941), described marine life in clear, elegant and non-technical prose. She retained her government job through the 1940s, in part to help support her mother and her sister's two orphaned daughters. In 1951 she published The Sea Around Us, which became an immediate best-seller and freed her from financial worry.
During the 1950s Carson conducted research into the effects of pesticides on the food chain, published in her most influential work, Silent Spring (1962), which condemned the indiscriminate use of pesticides, especially DDT (later banned). The book led to a presidential commission that largely endorsed her findings, and helped shape a growing environmental consciousness.
Carson died of cancer on April 14, 1964. She is remembered as an early environmental activist who worked to preserve the world for future generations.
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