Rachel Carson was 55 years old when she stunned the “world” of anyone who harbored concerns about the environment. Silent Spring was written in 1962, and became the catalyst for the environmental protections we have in place today.
Spurred by the lack of once prolific songbirds one spring, Carson, a marine biologist and writer, began her investigation into the environmental changes that were directly affecting wildlife. What she concluded brought cries of outrage from the public and inspired more in-depth environmental studies… and the laws that followed.
This highly controversial book begins in a fictitious, disease–filled town where total devastation of all nature has taken place. Carson sets this scenario, and then begins, with uncanny calm and impeccable style, to spin the listener’s head with audacious accounts of what is really happening, chemically, to the very real world around us.
Giving example after example—starting as early as 1787 with the un-natural introduction of Prickly Pear cactus into Australia for the culturing of insects for dye—to the demise of robins at Michigan State University after the spraying of Elm trees, and a lot more—Silent Spring is a stream of catastrophes with traceable culprits.
Carson’s scientific ability explains, in laymen’s terms, and with spellbinding detail, how man’s tampering with atoms and chemicals has altered life the way nature knew it. For instance, once adapted to the natural radiation given off by the sun, and earth’s rocks, the planet now deals with the un-natural radiation that comes from the splitting of atoms.
Where life was once able to change its surroundings in a natural flow—molding to suit natural environmental changes—man suddenly “acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.” What Carson brings to light is the thoughtless, often greedy, motivations that caused man to forsake natural remedies for quick chemical fixes regardless, or impervious to, the consequences.
Where, Rachel feels, insecticides should have skull and bones plastered all over their containers, they are, instead, indiscriminately sold to anyone—some even in purse sized applicator (bug repellant.) Carson’s message of atrocity is tampered only by Burstyn’s delicate, slightly pleading, voice. If you were not listening to the words, you might think she is telling a bedtime story while she explains things like:
Eleven earthworms can contain enough DDT to kill a robin (who eats 10-12 worms a minute.)
Kaiulani Lee reads Rachel’s book with precision and urgency. It is a strange mix of pleasant voice verses scary, articulate, reality stories.