Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and the Beginning of the Environmental Movement in the United States

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Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and the Beginning of the Environmental Movement in the United States When Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was published in 1962, it generated a storm of controversy over the use of chemical pesticides. Miss Carson's intent in writing Silent Spring was to warn the public of the dangers associated with pesticide use. Throughout her book are numerous case studies documenting the harmful effects that chemical pesticides have had on the environment. Along with these facts, she explains how in many instances the pesticides have done more harm than good in eradicating the pests they were designed to destroy. In addition to her reports on pesticide use, Miss Carson points out that many of the long-term effects that…show more content…
Impact of Silent Spring When excerpts of Silent Spring first began appearing in The New Yorker magazine in June 1962, they caused an uproar and brought a "howl of indignation" from the chemical industry. Supporters of the pesticide industry argued that her book gave an incomplete picture because it did not say anything about the benefits of using pesticides. An executive of the American Cyanamid Company complained, "if man were to faithfully follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth." Chemical manufacturers began undertaking a more aggressive public relations campaign to educate the public on the benefits of pesticide use. Monsanto, for example, published and distributed 5,000 copies of a brochure "parodying" Silent Spring entitled "The Desolate Year," which explained how chemical pesticides were largely responsible for the virtual eradication of diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, and typhus in the United States and throughout the world, and that without the assistance of pesticides in agricultural production millions around the world would suffer from malnutrition or starve to death (NRDC 1997). One of the main counterarguments to Miss Carson's book expressed by the farmers, scientists, and other supporters of the pesticide industry was that farm yields would be drastically reduced without the assistance
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