“But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.”
— Rachel Carson, biologist, marine biologist, conservationist, environmentalist
Even in the 1950’s, Carson’s ecological vision of the oceans shows her embrace of a larger environmental ethic which could lead to the sustainability of nature’s interactive and interdependent systems. Climate change, rising sea-levels, melting Arctic glaciers, collapsing bird and animal populations, crumbling geological faults — all are part of Carson’s work. But how, she wondered, would the educated public be kept informed of these challenges to life itself? What was the public’s “right to know”?
Evidence of the widespread misuse of organic chemical pesticides government and industry after World War II prompted Carson to reluctantly speak out not just about the immediate threat to humans and non-human nature from unwitting chemical exposure, but also to question government and private science’s assumption that human domination of nature was the correct course for the future.
In Silent Spring Carson asked the hard questions about whether and why humans had the right to control nature; to decide who lives or dies, to poison or to destroy non-human life. In showing that all biological systems were dynamic and by urging the public to question authority, to ask “who speaks, and why”? Rachel Carson became a social revolutionary, and Silent Spring became the handbook for the future of all life on Earth.