In Search of Monsters — Silent Spring, 60 Years Later

How do we rescue the Earth from us people? 60 years ago, Rachel Carson addressed this question in her book, Silent Spring. She’d been a shy but defiant biologist in government service. Her book had science behind it, and the rhythm of poetry all through it: one woman’s outcry—as she herself was dying of cancer—against pesticides, most notoriously DDT, what she called “the chemical barrage” being “hurled against the fabric of life.” She was hurling her prose at not just DDT but Dupont, Monsanto, the big business of agriculture, and the slick ad slogan: “better living through chemistry.” Silent Spring became a historic bestseller and a rallying cry for the twentieth century. It’s an unmet challenge for the twenty-first.

Biologist Sandra Steingraber and Blogger Maria Popova join Chris Lydon in this installment of In Search of Monsters. They discuss Carson’s legacy and the pressing implications of Silent Spring today.

Listen to the Full Episode