Has Rachel Carson's legacy resulted in stronger legislation... or just the same old game?
Forty-seven years since Silent Spring: what has changed?
11th August, 2009
In 1962, Rachel Carson's famous exposé of the environmental impacts of the pesticide DDT rocked the chemical industry. Today, Carson's European legacy - the REACH legislation - ought to safeguard public health. But will it?
Deny the problem, Distort the facts, Discredit the opponent, Distract by suggesting voluntary action, Delay legislation, and Dilute its substance
The earliest origins of green consciousness can be debated at length, but many point to the publication of naturalist Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as the key event which triggered public awareness and the beginning of environmental activism in its present form.
Silent Spring was first serialised in The New Yorker in June 1962, and arrived in the bookstores later the same year. Selected by the Book of the Month Club and endorsed by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, it rapidly became a bestseller.
In the book, Carson drew attention to the damage to the environment being caused by pesticides, particularly the toxic effects of dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) on the bird population. Carson’s conclusions also suggested potential harm to humans.
The chemical industry’s reaction to Silent Spring was, predictably, explosive. The sector was enraged both by the book’s claims about its products and also by Carson’s attack on the lack of effective scrutiny of chemical companies’ activities.
More fundamentally, Carson was seen as an opponent of progress and the freedom of chemical companies to do business...
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