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- By the editors
Desrochers, Pierre. "Silent
Spring - Die wahre Geschichte." Novo Argumente Online
(October 15, 2012).
Desrochers, Pierre. "The
real story of Silent Spring." Spiked.com (September 28, 2012).
Meiners, Roger. “Silent
Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson (Reassessing
Environmentalism’s Fateful Turn from Science to Advocacy).”
Master Resource (September 21, 2012).
Morriss, Andrew P. “Silent
Spring after 50 Years.” The Freeman (July/August 2012).
Morriss, Andrew P. and Roger Meiners.
Spring at 50: Reflections on an Environmental Classic. PERC
Policy Series #51 (2012).
Seeland, Klaus. "Stummer Frühling: Silent Spring at 50."
Schweizerische Zeitschrift für
Forstwesen (Swiss Journal of Forestry) 164 (4) (April
Walker, Bruce Edward. "Rachel
Carson’s Environmental Religion." Religion & Liberty
Cohen, Rory. "Rory
Cohen: 'Silent Spring' revered and overwrought." The Orange
County Register (October 29, 2012).
toxische Erbe der Umweltbewegung." Neue Zuercher Zeitung
(October 7, 2012).
Porritt, Jonathon. "Poisonous
passions." The Spectator (September 22, 2012).
What Critics Say
libertarian Cato Institute, co-founded in 1977 by
chemical merchant David Koch, is marking the anniversary
of Silent Spring with its own contrarian
publication titled The False Crises of Rachel Carson."
-Mike Di Paola, Bloomberg News, September 18, 2012.
Shaidle, Kathy. “The
Silent Spring that Won’t Shut Up.” Taki’s Magazine (September
Sterba, James P. “How
Nature Made a Comeback.” The Wall Street Journal (August 31st,
Caruba, Alan. “The
50th Anniversary of Silent Spring: A Lethal Legacy.”
Renew America (June 15, 2012).
Hayward, Steven. "A
Not So Happy Birthday." PowerLine Blog (May 27,
Foster, Peter. "The
Child Killers." National Post (August 29, 2013).
Kozlovich, Rick. 2013. "Silent Spring: Fifty Years of Junk
Part III (February 9) and
Part IV (May 12) Paradigms and Demographics.
Hickman, Leo. "What
is the legacy of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring?" The Guardian
(September 28, 2012).
Zerbisias, Antonia. 2012. "Rachel
Carson: The woman who shaped the environmental debate." Toronto
Star (September 28).
Koch, Wendy. "Carson's
'Silent Spring' spurred environmental movement." USATODAY.com
(September 27, 2012).
Di Paola, Mike. "JFK
Fought DDT in Rachel Carson's Environmental Crusade."
Bloomberg News (September 18, 2012).
crisis of Rachel Carson." The Source, SUN TV (October 18,
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring at 50 Years. Reason.com, September
Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson.
Book Forum with Andrew Morriss and Richard Tren, Cato Institute,
September 20, 2012.
The fight against malaria [podcast episode #05] (May 7,
2013) (Amanda Maxham).
CATO Institute Daily Podcast (September 20, 2012) (Andrew P. Morriss).
KOA’s The Mike Rosen Show (September 18, 2012) (Roger
WABC’s The John Bachler Show (July 10, 2012) (Roger
Widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement when
published 50 years ago, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring had a
profound impact on our society. While Carson was not the first to write
about the dangers of pesticides or to sound environmental alarms, her
book captured and retained the attention of the public. As an iconic
work, the book has received little critical inquiry, but this landmark
anniversary provides an opportunity to reassess its legacy and
influence. In Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson,
experts explore the book's historical context, the science it was built
on, and the policy consequences of its core ideas.
The conclusions reached by the authors make it clear that the legacy of
Silent Spring is highly problematic. Carson made little effort
to provide a balanced perspective and consistently ignored key evidence
that would have contradicted her work. Thus, while the book provided a
range of notable ideas, a number of Carson's major arguments rested on
what can only be described as deliberate ignorance. Just a few of these
Carson vilified the use of DDT in agriculture but essentially ignored
the chemical’s significant role in public health. Millions of human
deaths, and much greater human suffering, ultimately resulted from its
ban as part of disease-eradication campaigns.
Far from being on the verge of collapse, American bird populations were,
by and large, increasing at the time of Silent Spring’s
Once key statistical adjustments for population age and for tobacco use
were made, the apparent rise in cancer rates that so alarmed Silent
Spring’s first readers disappeared.
Despite her reputation as a careful writer widely praised for building
her arguments on science and facts, Carson’s bestseller contained
significant errors and sins of omission. Much of what was presented as
certainty then was slanted, and today we know much of it is simply
wrong. Silent Spring at 50 reveals the dangers of substituting
sensationalism for fact, and apocalyptic pronouncements for genuine
Table of Content
1. Silent Spring at 50
2. The Lady Who Started All This
3. The Intellectual Groundwaters of Silent Spring: Rethinking Rachel
Carson’s Place in the History of American Environmental Thought
4. Silent Spring as Secular Religion
5. The Selective Silence of Silent Spring: Birds, Pesticides, and
Alternatives to Pesticides
6. Rachel Carson’s Health Scare
7. The Balance of Nature and “The Other Road”: Ecological Paradigms and
Legacy of Silent Spring
8. Did Rachel Carson Understand the Importance of DDT in Global Public
9. Agricultural Revolutions and Agency Wars: How the 1950s Laid the
10. The False Promise of Federalization
11. The Precautionary Principle: Silent Spring’s Toxic Legacy
12. Risk Over-Simplified: The Enduring and Unfortunate Legacy of
About the editors and contributors
is the Goolsby Distinguished Professor of Economics and Law at the
University of Texas at Arlington and a senior fellow at the Property and
Environmental Research Center in Bozeman, Montana.
Pierre Desrochers is associate professor of geography at the
University of Toronto. His main research areas include technical
innovation, business-environmental interactions, economic development,
and energy policy and food policy. He maintains a detailed website at
Andrew Morriss is D. Paul Jones, Jr. & Charlene A. Jones
Chairholder in Law and Professor of Business at the University of
Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and is a senior fellow at the Property and
Environmental Research Center in Bozeman, Montana. He has authored or
coauthored more than 50 book chapters, scholarly articles, and books.
Jonathan H. Adler
is professor of law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and
the author or editor of four books on environmental policy.
is currently a research ecologist with the Institute for Wildlife
Studies, a nonprofit conservation organization in Arcata, California.
is a science writer and editor who has worked on staff at Consumer
Reports and American Health magazines. He is currently the
science and publications editor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine
in New York City.
has taught, lectured, and written about environmental history. He has
also served as president of three statewide environmental nonprofits,
developing and applying environmental covenants to several thousand
acres of land.
is professor of emerging technologies, law and ethics at the Sandra Day
O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. He is also a
professor of life sciences.
Robert H. Nelson
is the author of many book chapters and journal articles, as well as
eight books, including The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion versus
Environmental Religion in Contemporary America (Penn State
University Press, 2010).
Donald R. Roberts
specializes in public health research, particularly DDT’s effect in
malaria control programs. After retiring, he was awarded U.S. Medicine’s
Frank Brown Berry Prize for exceptional contributions to healthcare by a
federal healthcare professional.
is a policy consultant and the author of several reports on the
nonprofit sector, food policy, and corporate social responsibility. She
is the co-author of The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the
10,000-mile Diet (PublicAffairs, 2012).
is a cofounder and chairman of Africa Fighting Malaria, a malaria policy
and advocacy group. He was the recipient of the Competitive Enterprise
Institute’s 2009 Julian Simon Memorial Award in recognition for his work
on DDT and public health.