Rachel Louise Carson


Marine biologist and conservationist whose various publications including Silent Spring inspired the environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and helped advance the global environmental movement.


rachel carson

Written at a time when concern for the environment was on the rise, but with little understanding of the complicated mechanisms present in the world around us, Carson’s work has proved to be some of the most influential literature ever produced. Her most famous book, Silent Spring, tackled the thorny issue of synthetic pesticide use, arguing that overuse was having an adverse and long lasting effect on ecosystems, that would lead to greater problems in the future. Her predictions on pesticide resistance and invasive species have since proven to be accurate.

Her work helped shape U.S. Environmental policy, but also reverberated around the globe. One legacy of Carson’s work was to ban or limit the use of DDT, Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, a persistent, long-term synthetic insecticide, the levels of which build up through the food chain leading to deaths in non-target groups such as pollinating insects, fish, and small mammals. It also causes egg-shell thinning in birds and direct exposure can lead to toxic build up in humans, in particular affecting foetus development.


As picked by...

Zoe Simmons

Zoë M Simmons, Collections Manager, Life Collections