Rachel Carson, fully Rachel Louise Carson

Rachel
Carson, fully Rachel Louise Carson
1907
1964

American Conservationist, Marine Biologist and Author, best known for advancing the Global Environmental Movement and for her book "Silent Spring "

Author Quotes

By long tradition, the agencies responsible for these resources have been directed by men of professional stature and experience, who have understood, respected, and been guided by the findings of their scientists.

For many years public-spirited citizens throughout the country have been working for the conservation of the natural resources, realizing their vital importance to the Nation. Apparently their hard-won progress is to be wiped out, as a politically minded Administration returns us to the dark ages of unrestrained exploitation and destruction.

It is one of the ironies of our time that, while concentrating on the defense of our country against enemies from without, we should be so heedless of those who would destroy it from within.

The real wealth of the Nation lies in the resources of the earth ? soil, water, forests, minerals, and wildlife. To utilize them for present needs while insuring their preservation for future generations requires a delicately balanced and continuing program, based on the most extensive research. Their administration is not properly, and cannot be, a matter of politics.

To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men.

When the public protests, confronted with some obvious evidence ? it is fed little tranquilizing pills of half-truth.

About the book, I sometimes have a feeling (maybe 100% wishful thinking) that perhaps this long period away from active work will give me the perspective that was so hard to attain, the ability to see the woods in the midst of the confusing multitude of trees.

After Roger was asleep I took Jeffie [Carson?s cat] into the study and played the Beethoven violin concerto ? one of my favorites, you know. And suddenly the tensions of four years were broken and I got down and put my arms around Jeffie and let the tears come. With his little warm, rough tongue he told me that he understood. I think I let you see last summer what my deeper feelings are about this when I said I could never again listen happily to a thrush song if I had not done all I could. And last night the thoughts of all the birds and other creatures and the loveliness that is in nature came to me with such a surge of deep happiness, that now I had done what I could ? I had been able to complete it ? now it had its own life!

I know you dread the unpleasantness that will inevitably be associated with [the book?s] publication. That I can understand, darling. But it is something I have taken into account; it will not surprise me! You do know, I think, how deeply I believe in the importance of what I am doing. Knowing what I do, there would be no future peace for me if I kept silent? It is, in the deepest sense, a privilege as well as a duty to have the opportunity to speak out ? to many thousands of people ? on something so important.

It seems reasonable to believe ? and I do believe ? that the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.

Last night about 9 o?clock the phone rang and a mild voice said, ?This is William Shawn.? If I talk to you tonight you will know what he said and I?m sure you can understand what it meant to me. Shamelessly, I?ll repeat some of his words ? ?a brilliant achievement? ? ?you have made it literature? ?full of beauty and loveliness and depth of feeling.? ? I suddenly feel full of what Lois once called ?a happy turbulence.?

Mostly, I feel fairly good but I do realize that after several days of concentrated work on the book I?m suddenly no good at all for several more. Some people assume only physical work is tiring ? I guess because they use their minds little! Fridaynight ? my exhaustion invaded every cell of my body, I think, and really kept me from sleeping well all night.

Sometimes ? I want [the book] to be a much shortened and simplified statement, doing for this subject (if this isn?t too presumptuous a comparison) what Schweitzer did in his Nobel Prize address for the allied subject of radiation.

The other day someone asked Leonard Bernstein about his inexhaustible energy and he said ?I have no more energy than anyone who loves what he is doing.? Well, I?m afraid mine has to be recharged at times, but anyway I do seem just now to be riding the crest of a wave of enthusiasm and creativity, and although I?m going to bed late and often rising in very dim light to get in an hour of thinking and organizing before my household stirs, my weariness seems easily banished.

This is a book about man?s war against nature, and because man is part of nature it is also inevitably a book about man?s war against himself.

For me it was one of the loveliest of the summer's hours, and all the details will remain in my memory: that blue September sky, the sounds of wind in the spruces and surf on the rocks, the gulls busy with their foraging, alighting with deliberate grace . . . But most of all I shall remember the Monarchs, that unhurried drift of one small winged form after another, each drawn by some invisible force. We talked a little about their life history. Did they return? We thought not; for most, at least, this was the closing journey of their lives. But it occurred to me this afternoon, remembering, that it had been a happy spectacle, that we had felt no sadness when we spoke of the fact that there would be no return. And rightly?for when any living thing has come to the end of its cycle we accept that end as natural . . . That is what those brightly fluttering bits of life taught me this morning. I found a deep happiness in it?so, I hope, may you. Thank you for this morning.

In his various writings, we may read Dr. Schweitzer's philosophical interpretations of that phrase. But to many of us, the truest understanding of Reverence for Life comes, as it did to him, from some personal experience, perhaps the sudden, unexpected sight of a wild creature, perhaps some experience with a pet. Whatever it may be, it is something that takes us out of ourselves, that makes us aware of other life. From my own memories, I think of the sight of a small crab alone on a dark beach at night, a small and fragile being waiting at the edge of the roaring surf, yet so perfectly at home in its world. To me it seemed a symbol of life, and of the way life has adjusted to the forces of its physical environment. Or I think of a morning when I stood in a North Carolina marsh at sunrise, watching flock after flock of Canada geese rise from resting places at the edge of a lake and pass low overhead. In that orange light, their plumage was like brown velvet. Or I have found that deep awareness of life and its meaning in the eyes of a beloved cat.

The changes and the evolution of new ways of life are natural and on the whole desirable.

We have been troubled about the world, and had almost lost faith in man; it helps to think about the long history of the earth, and of how life came to be. And when we think in terms of millions of years, we are not so impatient that our own problems be solved tomorrow.

For the child? it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow? It is more important to pave the way for a child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts that he is not ready to assimilate.

In the Salt Pond itself live many inhabitants of the intertidal zone, the area which is exposed only at low tide? Most of the brown-green seaweeds growing on the rocks are either rockweeds or knotted wrack. At very low tide, one can see a species of red algae called Irish moss, which may also be green or purple. Other seaweeds such as kelp, sea collander, or dulse, which do not normally grow in the intertidal zone, may wash up here. Living between or sharing the rocks with the seaweeds are several kinds of mollusks [and] three species of periwinkles (snails)? Preying on these mollusks are dogwinkles or whelks? Hermit and green crabs are also abundant in the Salt Pond. Common starfish and green sea urchins are found occasionally.

The chemical war is never won, and all life is caught in its violent crossfire.

We still talk in terms of conquest? I think we're challenged, as mankind has never been challenged before, to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature but of ourselves.

Forms the best foundation for later intellectual growth.

It occurred to me this afternoon, remembering, that it had been a happy spectacle, that we had felt no sadness when we spoke of the fact that there would be no return. And rightly ? for when any living thing has come to the end of its life cycle we accept that end as natural. For the Monarch, that cycle is measured in a known span of months. For ourselves, the measure is something else, the span of which we cannot know. But the thought is the same: when that intangible cycle has run its course it is a natural and not unhappy thing that a life comes to an end. That is what those brightly fluttering bits of life taught me this morning. I found a deep happiness in it ? so I hope, may you. Thank you for this morning.

Author Picture
First Name
Rachel
Last Name
Carson, fully Rachel Louise Carson
Birth Date
1907
Death Date
1964
Bio

American Conservationist, Marine Biologist and Author, best known for advancing the Global Environmental Movement and for her book "Silent Spring "