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Silent spring
Carson, Rachel
Adult Nonfiction QH545.P4 C38 1997

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Rachel Louise Carson was born in 1907, in Springdale, Pennsylvania. She received a B.A. from the Pennsylvania College for Women in 1929 and an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University in 1932. After undertaking postgraduate work at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, Carson assumed a position as staff biologist at the University of Maryland in 1931. Five years later, she was appointed aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, which later became the Fish and Wildlife Service, and became editor-in-chief of its publications in 1949. In 1941 Carson published her first book, Under the Sea Wind, for which she received acclaim as an accomplished science writer. Her next book, The Sea Around Us, published in 1951, won the National Book Award. With her increased success as a popular writer, she resigned from her position with the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1952 to devote all her time to writing. In 1956 she published her third book about the ocean, The Edge of the Sea. Soon after, she began work on the book that would become an environmental classic. When Carson became concerned about pesticide pollution and its effects on ecosystems and human health, she spent years reading scientific reports, interviewing scientists, and pulling together thousands of bits of data about the use and impact of pesticides on the soil, in the water, and on plants, animals, and people. In 1962 she published Silent Spring, which immediately caused a stir. The book soared in sales, staying 31 weeks on the bestseller list. In all, Silent Spring sold 500,000 copies in hardcover and millions of copies in paperback. The popularity of her book was in part generated by the outraged response from the chemical industry, which created a substantial debate within scientific, industrial, and governmental circles. The more industry criticized Carson's interpretation of the facts, the more support she seemed to gain from the public, subsequently leading to legislation, such as the ban on the use of DDT in 1972. It would seem that Carson ignited the match that caught the environmental movement on fire. Her impact in the environmental community is significant. Among her many honors are: the John Burroughs Medal from the John Burroughs Memorial Association; the Frances K. Hutchinson Medal of the Garden Clubs of America; the Distinguished Service Award of the U.S. Department of Interior; the Audubon Medal of the National Audubon Society; the gold medal of the New York Zoological Society; and the conservationist of the year award from the National Wildlife Federation. She died of cancer in 1964. In 1969 the U.S. Department of the Interior named the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine in her honor.

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