Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring,” a lucid and compelling book about how DDT and other pesticides were damaging the environment and human health. The book called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world and became an inspiration for the environmental movement. One of Carson’s staunchest advocates and closest friends was Iowan Shirley Briggs, who met Carson when they worked together at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1940s.
To recognize this Iowa connection to “Silent Spring,” the University of Iowa Libraries and Office of Sustainability presented an exhibition inspired by Briggs’ diaries, letters, photos and artwork.
After years of research in the United States and Europe, Carson made the decision to produce “Silent Spring.” This landmark work was linked to the increase of awareness of the impact of persistent, bio-accumulative chemical pollutants in the environment – these include DDT, mercury, Chlordane and Dieldrin, among others. These deadly chemicals are still being cleaned up and removed from the environment.
After her book’s publication, Carson was vilified by chemical companies. Her writings about the impact of legacy chemicals led to landmark legislation and the banning of the use of DDT. She died in 1964 after a long battle against breast cancer. After Carson’s death, Briggs created a non-profit organization, the Rachel Carson Council, a pesticide research information clearinghouse for both scientists and lay people.
Just eight years after “Silent Spring” was published, President Richard Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency and with an extensive directive, helped pave the way for a series of important environmental laws, such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
The Rachel Carson Council, founded in 1965, is the national environmental organization envisioned by Rachel Carson to carry on her work after her death. We promote Carson’s ecological ethic that combines scientific concern for the environment and human health with a sense of wonder and reverence for all forms of life in order to build a more sustainable, just, and peaceful future. -
Silent Spring Institute, founded in 1994, is staffed and led by researchers dedicated to science that serves the public interest.We partner with physicians, public health and community advocates and other scientists to identify and break the links between environmental chemicals and women’s health, especially breast cancer.
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Environmental Protection Agency, founded in 1970, is an independent agency of the U.S Federal government for environmental protection. www.epa.gov