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Trusted Voice of Science

Besides honoring her on annual Earth Day celebrations around the country, there is a growing movement by environmental organizations to formally declare May 27th as Rachel Carson Day.
Rachel Carson was one of the leading environmentalists in the world and a trusted public voice of science in the U.S. She researched and wrote extensively on environmental issues and testified in numerous government hearings, leading to sweeping policy changes. Cason is often cited as a founding member of the modern environmental movement.


Born in Springdale, PA, on May 27, 1907, Carson grew up on a 65-acre farm. She became enthralled with animals and writing stories, and her first story was published in a magazine when she was only ten years old. Going on to initially major in English with the goal of becoming a writer, Carson eventually switched her major to biology, and completed a fellowship at the U.S. Marine Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. She completed her graduate degree in zoology at John Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1929.

Publications and Impacts: Rachael Carson was right!

Carson worked part-time at the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in 1935, writing a series of radio programs. The programs got her noticed and she was hired full-time in 1936, only the second woman ever hired by the Bureau. By 1941, when she published her first book “Under the Sea-Wind,” Carson was renowned for her prolific newspaper columns and public bulletins. She was soon promoted to editor-in-chief of all Fish and Wildlife Service publications.
Carson resigned in 1952 to focus on writing and authored more prominent books articles based on them, including one in Popular Science in 1951 that suggested the oceans could be the root cause of climate change.
Carson’s last book, “Silent Spring,” became her masterwork when it was published in 1962. The book examined the interactions of pesticides with wildlife and provoked a firestorm of controversy with its assertions that the chemical pesticide DDT was dangerous. The federal government was prompted to conduct its own research, which ultimately concluded that Carson was right, and a full review of American pesticide policy was ordered.

Congressional Testimony

Carson testified before Congress and as a direct result of her research, DDT was banned.
The American Chemical Society designated “Silent Spring” a National Historic Chemical Landmark in 2012 for changing the industry’s focus to green practices and sustainability.
Rachel Carson died of breast cancer on April 14, 1964, at the age of 57. There is even speculation that her work with environmental toxins may have caused her disease. Rachel Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980.

Quotes by Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson’s writing reveal deep scientific knowledge and a fierce devotion to nature. Her engaging style is both practical and philosophical.
  • “There is no drop of water in the ocean that does not know and respond to the mysterious forces that create the tide.”
  • “The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.”
  • “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.”
  • “Those who dwell among the beauties and the mysteries of the Earth are never alone.”
Biography: Matt Simmons,, Pittsburgh, PA, 27May21. Retrieved 2Apr22.

Rachel Carson Here and Now

How do we take what Rachel Carson brought to light and use it today? Our own City of Kenmore is developing a Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP will establish actions the city and community can take to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and will propose strategies that increase Kenmore’s ability to adapt to upcoming climate impacts: including water, air, forest, and habitat restoration. The City is working with Cascadia Consulting Group to complete the CAP in mid-2022.

Kenmore CAP: City of Kenmore website. Retrieved 2Apr22.

Books by Rachel Carson

Under the Sea Wind (1941): Portrays the special mystery and beauty of the sea in this seamless series of riveting adventures along the Atlantic shore.

The Sea Around Us (1951): Winner of the 1952 National Book Award, tells the story of the seas; how they were born, how life emerged from them, and the fascinating marine world within them.

The Edge of the Sea (1955): Describes the animals and birds that live beside the sea. Much of the information for the book was gathered from the Maine Coast near Rachel Carson’s home.

Silent Spring (1962): Provides some of the first public evidence of how pesticides, used without proper control or knowledge, were poisoning our environment.

Title image: Rachel Carson and Bob Hines researching off the Atlantic coast in 1952. image:

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