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The publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 created controversy over the use of pesticides. Rachel’s intention of writing the book was to warn the public on the dangers associated with the use of pesticides. Silent Spring documents many case studies on the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. Rachel uses these case studies to explain how pesticides are more harmful than the pesticides that they are to destroy. She also points out the long-term effects that pesticides have on both humans and the environment. However, her book has mixed reception by the public and pesticides manufacturers (Lear, 1997). The book directly led to the formation of government agencies and enactment of legislation aimed at regulating the use of chemicals.

The release of the book in June of 1963 caused indignation from the chemical industry. Those from the pesticide industry argued that the book satisfied only one side of the coin because it did not highlight the benefits of using pesticides. If the world were to follow her teachings, disease, vermin and insects would inhabit the earth once again. Without the use of pesticides, many people from across the world would die from starvation and eventual malnutrition (Lear, 1997). Velsicol, a DDT manufacturer made live threats sue The New Yorker and the Houghton Mifflin, the publication houses popularizing the book.

Personal attacks on Carson were also many. Some accused her of being an unmarried woman with a high affinity for cats, and that she was a communist sympathizer. The general counsel of Velsicol in a letter to Houghton Mifflin implied that her work had sinister influences; that she was an agricultural propagandist under the employment of the Soviet Union. According to the counsel, Rachel’s intention was to stifle food production capability of western countries. Despite this, Rachel had many supporters among them the US President, John F. Kennedy. Kennedy formed a taskforce to investigate the use of pesticides. While testifying for the committee, she gave her recommendations on the issue and never called for the ban of pesticides.

Many people argue that Carson had no value for human life. On page 99 of her book, she describes the death of a bird, that to her, must have dies from pesticide poisoning (Carson, 2002). However, she does not describe the deaths of people dying from plague, yellow fever, sleeping sickness and malaria; diseases that insects spread. Critics argue that the book led to adoption of legislation that banned insecticides capable of stopping millions of human deaths. Carson, being a biologist, must be aware that that typhus, African sleeping sickness, malaria, yellow fever, rickettsia diseases and tick-born bacterium are the greatest threats to human life. However, she avoids talking about this throughout her book since these diseases are controllable through pesticide use. She could sacrifice millions of lives to advocate against the use of chemicals.

In contrast, she uses humans to gather support against the use of pesticides. Rachel cites that because there is insufficient medical proof on the effect of pesticides on humans, people should be extra cautious while using pesticides. She argues that these pesticides might accumulate in the body over time leading to carcinogenic and genetic dangers to human life (Carson, 2002). Rachel goes on to cite several medical experts and researchers to support her view.


Rachel Carson was one of the environmentalists of the modern era whose works continue to receive public disdain half a century after their publication. Many experts and critics blame Carson for the rising malarial deaths in Africa. Millions of children continue to die from preventable sources because Rachel raised a false alarm. However, she led to legislation aimed at preserving the environment.

Code: writers15

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