Michigan State University masthead

What Happened after Silent Spring?

Image of What Happened after Silent Spring? title


Silent Spring became a best seller. It quickly influenced the thinking and attitudes of not only the general public but also of legislators, researchers, and government departments.

Image of Silent Spring book coverSoon after publication, President Kennedy directed his Science Advisory Committee to investigate Rachel Carson’s claims. Their vindication of Carson’s work led to strengthened regulation of chemical pesticides.

Government agencies directed more funds towards research into the impacts of pesticides on the environment and human health.

The US Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970 and continues to have a major focus on controlling and advising on the use of pesticides and other humanmade toxins. The EPA has been called ‚Äúthe extended shadow of Silent Spring‚ÄĚ.

DDT was banned in the US in 1972‚ÄĒbut is still used in parts of the world. There are scientists and doctors who suggest DDT should be more widely used to control insect vectors of diseases such as malaria that cause millions of human deaths each year.

Image of the US Medal of Freedom was awarded to Rachel Carson in 1980Pesticide labels were required to carry more warnings (though these are often in fine print) and protective clothing and equipment were recommended for people using pesticides.

The New York University list of the 100 most important writings of the last century rated Silent Spring as number 2 (behind John Hersey’s Hiroshima, of 1946). It was rated number 5 in the Modern Library List of the Best 20th Century Nonfiction works and one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by Discover Magazine.

It is widely considered that Rachel Carson and Silent Spring were the inspiration for 20th century environmentalism. Many environmentalists‚ÄĒ former Vice President Al Gore among them‚ÄĒwere inspired by Rachel Carson.

Image of Stamps depicting Rachel Carson














Image of Rachel Carson died on April 14, 1964