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5 rachel carsons silent spring- a quiet book makes noise ecosystems grade 5

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Rachel Garson's
Sifent Sprlng
.(
oday, most people in the United
States know chemical pesticides
can be dangerous to the environment. The Environme ntal Protection
Agenry FPA), a government organization, regulates the use of these substances.
But 50 years ago,people were not aware of
the risks of pesticides. They knew only that
pesticides killed insects, and they thought that
6A
Rachel Carson
loved the ocean
and a1 of
nature.
In college, she studied writing.
But a course in biolog reawakened her interest in the natural world.
carson earned a master's degree in zoolory.
After graduation, she wrote science articles
for a newspaper she continued her studies
atthe woods Hole oceanographic Institute
in Massachusetts. she became enchanted
with the sea.
was good.
In L962, a scientist named Rachel Carson
published a book called, Silent Sping.That
book changed the way people think about pesticides and the environment. Despite its quiet
title, the book had a
powerful effect.
Two Loves
t
As a child, Rachel
Carson had two loves:
writing and natuue.
At
Rachel Garson was a writer
and a scientist.
age 10, she pub-
lished a story in a
children's magazina
Rachel was also fascinatedby birds.
A Career in Science Begins
In the meantime, she needed to find a fulltime job. In 1935, the U.S. Bureau of
Fisheries needed a scientist to write scripts
for radio. carson got the iob. A yeau. later,
she was promoted. she became a junior
aquatic biologist. Few women worked for the
government in those days. There were even
fewer women scientists.
To add to her incoffi€, carson continued to
write newspaper articles. Her reputation was
spreading. she got contracts to write books.
The first two, (lnder the sea wind (lg4l) and
The sea Around us (lgsr), were very successful. she eventually left her job to become
a full-time writer.
Taking a Stand
Carson's fame gave her a chance to speak out
about issues that she cared about. One issue
was the use of new, synthetic (humanmade)
chemical pesticides. The government had
been testing the pesticides in Maryland, not
far from Carson's home. She wrote an article
about the dangers of these chemicals and
submitted it for publication. No one
was interested.
But Carson was determined. "The more I
throughout the country where these substances
were being used. Carson knew that most magazines would not want to publish an article
about DDT. It was too controversial. After all,
most farmers thought DDT was wonderful. lt.
killed pests and increased their haryests. Carson
decided to put away her other assignments. She
would write a book about pesticides.
She had many questions: What did DDT do
besides kiII mosquitoes? What happened
The evidence she would need to frII thatbook
began to accumulate. Then one day, Carson got
when the chemicals washed into streams and
lakes? What did DDT do to people who ate
food sprayed with it? She asked the opinions
of biologists, naturalists, and other scientists.
Silent Sping was published in 1962. It
appeared frrst as a series of articles in Ihe
Nau Yorker magazine. The book had a grim
conclusion: If people continued to use manmade pesticides, they would poison the planet.
The book drew a strong readion. Carson was
threatened with lawsuits. Some people ques-
a leffer from afriend, ilga Owens Huckins.
tioned her research methods.
Huckins was in a bird sanctuary outside
Boston when a low-flying airplane crossed
overhead. It was spraying DDT a pesticide
A year late\ President fohn E, Kennedy set up
a commiffee to study environmental hazards. Its
report agteed with Carson's frndings. Hearings
on pesticides began in the tI.S. Congress. The
learned about the use of pesticides," she said,
"fr:te more appalled t became. . . . I realued
that
here was the material for a book. What I discovered was tlnteverythingwhich meant most to
me as a naturalist was being threatened, and that
nothing I could do would be more impor|ant."
The Evidence Piles Up
used to
kill mosquitoes. Soon after, Huckins
saw etght dead birds in the sanctuary. The
DDT was evidently killing more than
EPA was established.
mosquitoes!
She died
Huckins wToteto Carson, who
had always loved birds. Could
she help stop the spraying?
By this time, reports about
Carson did not live to see all these changes.
in L964. But she would
have been
pleased. More than 40 years after its
publication, Silent Sping is considered the foundation of environmental awareness in the 20th century.
I
the dangers of pesticides were
popping up in other places
Rachel Garson
ECOSYSTEMS O STC BOOKS
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