‘Silent Spring’ and Other Writings on the Environment

Meehan Crist at the LRB:

There is a belief, particularly prevalent among scientists, that science writing is more or less glorified PR – scientists do the intellectual work of discovery and writers port their findings from lab to public – but Silent Spring is a powerful reminder that great science writing can expand our scientific and cultural imaginations. Rarely has the work of a single author – or, indeed, a single book – had such an immediate and profound impact on society. Silent Spring was the first book to persuade a wide audience of the interconnectedness of all life, ushering in the idea that ‘nature’ refers to ecosystems that include humans. It spurred the passage in the United States of the Clean Air Act (1963), the Wilderness Act (1964), the National Environmental Policy Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972) and the Endangered Species Act (1973). Perhaps most significant, it showed how human health and well-being ties in with the health of our environment, leading to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. No wonder, then, that writers, activists and scientists concerned about the ongoing destruction of biodiversity and the catastrophic effects of climate change look to Carson with urgent nostalgia.

more here.