Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Just under a year ago I decided to embark on an Environmental Diploma; as with any study it came with a recommended reading list.   Such books as ‘a practical Approach to environmental Law’ and ‘Environmental Management in Business’ as the suggested starting place, but I also found that Silent Spring by Rachel Carson was on the list.

Rachel Carson was working in the sciences in the 60’s, which was unusual and different for a female.  It was harder to gain recognition and make a difference. Silent Spring is her last book, as she was diagnosed with breast Cancer whilst writing it. The book has gone on to become one of the 50 most influential environmental books of all time.  

I decided on the audio book 512k-8w2UdL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_to list to in the car, and on the train and the opening introduction tells us of Rachel’s life and work. I chose the unabridged version from Google Books, the voice of the narrator is like a gentle lullaby, making it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time( no an ideal choice for the car then!) and making me wish it was David Attenborough’s voice instead.

Chapter one tells us about the impact, empty streams, piglets that don’t grow, chickens that have poor quality eggs. The changes to the world we know due to chemicals we make.  Chapter two follows on with this, talking about the earth cycles, demonstrating how easily anything can spread, when we tamper with life’s atoms we are responsible for the response. The earth is suffering, and it cannot be resolved in a single life time.

500 new chemicals are made each year ( and that was in the sixties, think how many that could be today) which we have to adapt to. Sprays, dusts and aerosols all make to kill, coat and last.  The process demonstrates that they are not a pesticide but a biocide. As Darwin told us it is about survival of the fittest; flora and fauna adapt to survive creating the need for stronger pesticides as we look at the news reports today talking about the potential for WW3 and a nuclear war we really should be worrying about the war we are fighting with own habitat, our environment by contaminating it through bio –accumulation.  Carson reminds us that these chemicals can lead to gene mutation. ( not in the fun, cool X-Men way) Really advising us that the simple use of an insect spray can change genetic forever. 

The worldwide migration of organisms is a factor considered. Organisms were split between different parts of the earth, the changes in the earth, and import of plants are making the migration easy. With no likely natural predators in the new location we are faced with two options, quarantine or sprays. We train ecologist but their advice isn’t taken on board as often as it should be.  We are our own worst enemy.

I wont continue on as the audio book has over ten hours’ worth of content, and as a topic I am enthused about I could write a short essay, chapter by chapter.


I really don’t think there’s much I could write that will do this book the justice it deserves. Its just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago, possibly more so as we know the information has been there for a while but we still create harmful substances, still pour them down the drain (remember the recent ban on micro-beads? How many people flush wet wipes still?)  but for anyone who is looking for a non fiction read, a topical read, especially if you were inspired by the latest season of Blue Planet then would completely recommend this book. Its easy to follow, easy to understand and make you realise how easy it is to irrevocably ruin something precious, that we all take for granted

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