OOS 53-5
Rachel Carson: Saint or sinner?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 2:50 PM
329, Baltimore Convention Center
Mark Lytle, Environmental and Urban Studies, Bard College, Annandale, NY

Most scholars agree that Rachel Carson and Silent Spring helped inspire the modern environmental movement.  Her courage in the face of widespread criticism from male scientists, chemical companies, and pro-business politicians made her a hero to the environmental community. Somewhat mysteriously that criticism, even vitriol, erupted again in the 1990s. Politicians of the stripe of House Leader Tom DeLay and self-anointed science guru Michael Crichton led the crusade to tarnish her reputation once again. They conjured the charge that her misguided attack on DDT had caused the death of millions of African children. Carson, they charged, was no saint, but in effect a murderer. Such was their influence that the New York Times Sunday Magazinecommissioned an article to weigh the evidence. In tone it leaned in favored of Carson’s critics. This presentation will revisit the controversy, offer a counter explanation of the critics’ political purposes, and link it the broader assault on science and global warming in general and environmentalism in particular. 


Rachel Carson was no murderer and politics, not science, motivated them.