Rachel Louise Carson was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

Carson began her career as a biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, where she rose to become Editor-in-Chief of all publications. She wrote pamphlets on conservation and natural resources and edited scientific articles, but in her free time turned her government research into lyric prose, first as an article "Undersea" (1937, for the Atlantic Monthly), and then in a book, Under the Sea-wind (1941). In 1952 she published her prize-winning study of the ocean, The Sea Around Us, which was followed by The Edge of the Sea in 1955. These books constituted a biography of the ocean and made Carson famous as a naturalist and science writer for the public. Carson’s writing won her financial security, and she resigned from government service in 1952 to devote herself to her writing.

Embedded within all of Carson's writing was the view that human beings were but one part of nature distinguished primarily by their power to alter it, in some cases irreversibly.

In the late 1950s, Carson turned her attention to warning the public about the long term environmental and health effects of synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring (1962), which challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, and brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented portion of the American public. Silent Spring, while met with fierce denial from chemical companies, spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy—leading to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides—and the grassroots environmental movement the book inspired led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Carson was attacked by the chemical industry and some in government as an alarmist, but courageously spoke out to remind us that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem. Testifying before Congress in 1963, Carson called for new policies to protect human health and the environment.

Carson's work had a powerful impact on the environmental movement. Silent Spring, in particular, was a rallying point for the fledgling social movement in the 1960s. Carson's work, and the activism it inspired, is at least partly responsible for the deep ecology movement, and the overall strength of the grassroots environmental movement since the 1960s. It was also influential on the rise of ecofeminism and on many feminist scientists.

Carson's most direct legacy in the environmental movement was the campaign to ban the use of DDT in the United States (and related efforts to ban or limit its use throughout the world).

The creation of the Environmental Protection Agency by the Nixon administration in 1970 addressed another concern that Carson had brought to light. Until then, the same agency (the USDA) was responsible both for regulating pesticides and promoting the concerns of the agriculture industry; Carson saw this as a conflict of interest, since the agency was not responsible for effects on wildlife or other environmental concerns beyond farm policy. Fifteen years after its creation, one journalist described the EPA as "the extended shadow of Silent Spring." Much of the agency's early work, such as enforcement of the 1972 Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, was directly related to Carson's work.

Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.

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