María Angelica Mejia on Rachel Carson

Photo Rachel CarsonRachel Carson was a great writer, activist, scientist, and ecologist. She grew up in Pennsylvania, and in 1929 she graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women as a marine biologist. She wrote numerous articles and books about conservation and natural resources and edited scientific articles, her final purpose was to teach people about the beauty of the world, and show that human beings were one part of nature distinguished primarily by their power to alter it, in some cases irreversibly.

In 1952 and 1955, she published two books that made her famous as a naturalist and science and they have known as a biography of the ocean, these books are: The Sea around Us (best seller) and The Edge of the Sea.

book cover - Silent SpringIn 1962, she wrote silent spring in which she warn about the use of pesticides (specially DDT, the most powerful pesticide the world had ever known) and its long term impact in the environment and their consequences of cancer in human. The book described how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in the tissues of animals, including human beings, and caused cancer and genetic damage. She wrote that with a single application on a crop, this pesticide killed insects for weeks and months, and not only the targeted insects, and remained toxic in the environment even after it was diluted by rainwater.

She concluded that DDT and other pesticides had irrevocably harmed birds and animals and had contaminated the entire world food supply.  She challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, and called for a change in the way human viewed the natural world. Chemical industry attacked her and the government called her alarmist. However Carson asks the government for new policies to protect human health and the environment.

Rachel Carson died in 1964 after a long battle against breast cancer.

References: The Story of Silent Spring, Natural resources defense council (

Life and legacy of Rachel Carson. Biography. (

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Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the IMBA Seminar on Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy of the Institut Supérieur de Gestion, Paris, March 2015.

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