Rachel Carson, fully Rachel Louise Carson

Carson, fully Rachel Louise Carson

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.

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.

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.

Any concept of biology is not only sterile and profitless, it is distorted and untrue, if it puts its primary focus on unnatural conditions rather than on those vast forces not of man's making that shape and channel the nature and direction of life.

I believe that most popular books about the ocean are written from the viewpoint of a human observer and record his impressions and interpretations of what he saw. I was determined to avoid this human bias as much as possible . . . I decided that the author as a person or a human observer should never enter the story, but that it should be told as a simple narrative of the lives of certain animals of the sea. As far as possible, I wanted my readers to feel that they were, for a time, actually living the lives of sea creatures.

My research has taken very deep digging into the realms of physiology and biochemistry and genetics, to say nothing of chemistry. But I now feel that a lot of isolated pieces of the jigsaw puzzle have suddenly fallen into place.

The winds, the sea, and the moving tides are what they are. If there is wonder and beauty and majesty in them, science will discover these qualities. If they are not there, science cannot create them. If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.

Autumn comes to the sea with a fresh blaze of phosphorescence, when every wave crest is aflame. Here and there the whole surface may glow with sheets of cold fire, while below schools of fish pour though the water like molten metal.

I have pointed out before, and I shall repeat now, that the problem of pesticidesú can be properly understood only in context, as part of the general introduction of harmful substances into the environment. In water and soil, and in our own bodies, these chemicals are mingled with others, or with radioactive substances. There are little understood interactions and summations of effect. No one fully understands, for example, what happens when pesticide residues stored in our bodies interact with drugs repeatedly taken. And there are some indications that detergents, which are often present in our drinking water, may affect the lining of the digestive tract so that it more readily absorbs cancer-causing chemicals. In attempting to assess the role of pesticides, people too often assume that these chemicals are being introduced into a simple, easily controlled environment, as in a laboratory experiment. This, of course, far from true.

Only within the 20th Century has biological thought been focused on ecology, or the relation of the living creature to its environment. Awareness of ecological relationships is ? or should be ? the basis of modern conservation programs, for it is useless to attempt to preserve a living species unless the kind of land or water it requires is also preserved. So delicately interwoven are the relationships that when we disturb one thread of the community fabric we alter it all ? perhaps almost imperceptibly, perhaps so drastically that destruction follows.

There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings? Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change? There was a strange stillness? The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of scores of bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh.

Blinded by the dollar sign? the modern world worships the gods of speed and quantity, and of the quick and easy profit, and out of this idolatry monstrous evils have arisen. The struggle against the massed might of industry is too big for one or two individuals? to handle.

I like to define biology as the history of the earth and all its life ? past, present, and future.

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