variegated fritillary
Honoring Rachel Carson's
Enduring Legacy
Every now and then, a book comes along that changes the way we look at the world. Silent Spring is one of those books.

Published fifty years ago this month, Silent Spring opened a window onto the effect of chemical pesticides on the environment. Its contents were feared by the chemical industry and they spent a considerable amount of effort trying to stop Rachel Carson's message from spreading. Industry representatives tried to discredit the science behind her claims, but they were proven to be well founded. She was portrayed as an "hysterical woman," even a Communist. Rachel Carson was neither. She was a mild-mannered biologist who could not only see the broad picture of what was happening but put it into language that everyone could understand.

Both Rachel Carson and her book weathered the storm. The message in Silent Spring was heard by millions of people who rallied to the cause. Even the federal government took notice, with the Kennedy administration ordering an investigation into the book's claims. This led to the banning of DDT in the United States, and some say, to the subsequent creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

How does this relate to the work we're doing? Pesticides remain a threat to insects everywhere. As Rachel Carson wrote:

"These insects, so essential to our agriculture 
 and indeed to our landscape as we know it, deserve something better from us than the senseless destruction of their habitat."

This is what we at Xerces work to change every day. The fact that these words, written half a century ago, still resonate shows the power of Silent Spring, and how it helps to shape our lives today.

You too can help maintain the legacy of Silent Spring:
  • Avoid using pesticides, especially insecticides,
  • Donate to support the Xerces Society's habitat creation and advocacy work,
  • Read Xerces' report, Are Neonicotinoids Killing Bees, and
  • Keep Rachel Carson's memory alive by
    reading or re-reading Silent Spring; then remind your friends and neighbors about her important message.
Help support our important habitat conservation work.
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Learn how to create habitat for invertebrates with resources from our online store, including:
Attracting Native Pollinators
Check out our events page for upcoming events including:

Dragonfly Short Course in Sherwood, OR on 9/22/12. Just a few spots left, register now!


Public talks by Scott Black in:

  • Atlanta, GA 9/20/12
  • Arcata, CA 9/30/12 
  • Ithaca, NY  10/10/12

Variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia), by Bryan E. Reynolds.

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