50 years after ‘Silent Spring’

5 thoughts on “50 years after ‘Silent Spring’”

  1. Fascinating and terrifying stuff Gerry, a woman ahead of her time, no doubt. Such a brave woman too, ploughing ahead with Silent Spring whilst suffering from breast cancer and I guess the treatment for it back in the sixties was pretty rough compared to today. She was terribly vilified by anyone who had an interest in using or making chemicals such as she saw were being abused. She never called for a ban on them, but that there use should be restricted. She never had any considerable wealth, in fact she struggled all her life, supporting her sister and then I believe her sisters son when she died, her mother too in old age she looked after when she herself was not good.
    She never married, and tried to keep her life as private as possible lest the forces opposing her should use the information to discredit her book and findings. I believe she was asked to submit evidence before a commission set up by Kennedy regarding a vast array of reforms that were passed, so we have much to thank her for, though I suspect she would be truly disturbed by the news we see year by year today.
    I just watched a one woman show, on dvd, available from the USA an an import, only plays on a multi region or very cheap tv/dvd player, about the life of Carson, which is so moving and gives an insight into who she was and her passions. Here is the link to the lady who performs this show and wrote it too, with the blessing of the Estate of Carson.
    http://www.kaiulanilee.com/
    And here is a link to a page on well respected journalist and interviewer/author Bill Moyers website, with an interview with Kaiulani Lee about Carson and her show, which she still tours.

    (Incidentally Gerry, I was up in Liverpool last Sunday, Monday, in the rain! with some English and American friends, doing the Beatles thing, y’know, Magical Mystery Tour, Beatles exhibition etc etc. and we had a great time. It was my and their first time in Merseyside and the people we met were ‘fab’, I think I’ll be back.)

    1. That’s all really interesting, Les. I didn’t know anything about Rachel Carson the person. I would like to see ‘A Sense of Wonder’, the film you mention. I wonder if it will ever be shown on BBC TV? There’s a trailer for it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwQ7S_5Ty5M

      Glad to hear you enjoyed your time in Liverpool – but what an awful two days to be here! Only a day earlier we were basking in an Indian Summer of a day!

      1. I’ve just watched the Bill Moyers programme, with its generous extracts from Kaiulani Lee’s A Sense of Wonder. Really powerful – I’d recommend anyone who is interest in Silent Spring to watch it. She knew what she was taking on – in the play she is quoted as saying, “The book actually offended a relatively small segment of our society. But a very rich one. The chemical and other related industries such as food processing and the federal government’s immensely powerful Department of Agriculture”.

        She was subjected to such astonishing attacks from the oil and petro-chemical giants and those in their pay – “We can live without birds and animals, but we cannot live without business.” “Kept reminding me of trying to win an argument with a woman. It can’t be done.” “Why is a spinster with no children concerned with genetics?” “Her mystical attachment to this balance of nature … may do harm by alarming the public. If one were to faithfully follow the teachings of Rachel Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages. And the insects, and the diseases, and the vermin would once again inherit our Earth.”

        I didn’t know anything about the struggles of her life – the early poverty, giving up post-graduate study to support her family, her adopted son, her death from cancer only four years after Silent Spring.

        Thanks, Les, for drawing our attention to this. There’s a lot of supporting material to the PBS programme here: http://to.pbs.org/PDWyob. Oh, and for anyone who uses iTunes, the film can be downloaded there for $9.

  2. No problem Gerry, glad you found it illuminating. two of the friends who were over from the USA live just a stones throw away from the house in Silver Springs near Baltimore, which is a National monument, they knew nothing and found it interesting.

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