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Rachel Carson Quotations
|"Down on the shore we have savored the
smell of low tide-that marvelous evocation combined of many separate
odors, of the world of seaweeds and fishes and creatures of bizarre
shape and habit, of tides rising and falling on their appointed
schedule, of exposed mud flats and salt rime drying on the rocks.
I hope [my nephew] Roger will later experience, as I do, the rush
of remembered delight that comes with the first breath of that
scent, drawn into one's nostrils as one returns to the sea after
a long absence." Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder (New
York: Harper and Row, 1965), p. 66.
|"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.
. . ." From "Life in the Salt Pond," Rachel Carson
Salt Pond Preserve Brochure, Maine Chapter, The Nature Conservancy.
|"In the early 1950s, when Carson finished
The Sea Around Us, she was optimistic about the use science could
make of nature while still respecting the final priority of natural
processes over human manipulation. . . . Ten years later, at work
on Silent Spring, Carson was no longer as sanguine about the ability
of the environment to protect itself from human interference.
She had begun to understand the destructive impact civilization
had on the environment, and was presented with a dilemma: the
growth of civilization destroys the environment, but only through
increased knowledge (a product of civilization) can destruction
be stopped." Vera Norwood, "Heroines of Nature: Four
Women Respond to the American Landscape," Environmental Review,
8, no. 1 (1984): 34-56, on pp. 46-7.
|"[Rachel Carson] had peered into the
fairy caves and tide pools of her beloved Maine coast and had
seen the fragility and tenacity with which even the smallest creatures
struggled for life against the relentless ocean tides. Her flashlight
had captured the unforgettable spectacle of the solitary crab
on the rocky beach at midnight, vulnerable yet unassailably resilient.
She could not stand idly by and say nothing when all that was
in jeopardy, when human existence itself was endangered. . . .
She wrote a revolutionary book [Silent Spring, 1962] in terms
that were acceptable to a middle class emerging from the lethargy
of postwar affluence and woke them to their neglected responsibilities.
It was a book in which she shared her vision of life one last
time. In the sea and the bird's song she had discovered the wonder
and mystery of life. Her witness for these, and the integrity
of all life, would make a difference." Linda Lear, Rachel
Carson: Witness for Nature (New York: Henry Holt, 1997), pp. 4-5.
|"These sprays, dusts, and aerosols are
now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests, and
homes-nonselective chemicals that have the power to kill every
insect, the 'good' and the 'bad,' to still the song of birds and
the leaping of fish in the streams, to coat the leaves with a
deadly film, and to linger on in soil-all this though the intended
target may be only a few weeds or insects. Can anyone believe
it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface
of the earth without making it unfit for all life? They should
not be called 'insecticides,' but 'biocides.'" Rachel Carson,
Silent Spring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962).
|"[Rachel Carson] articulated a philosophy
of how civilized people ought to relate to nature and its care.
Carson's technical critique of insecticides launched from a philosophical
foundation ultimately found a home in a new movement, environmentalism,
in the late 1960s and 1970s. She must be regarded as one intellectual
founder of the movement, even though she perhaps did not intend
to do so nor did she live to see the real fruition of her work."
John Perkins, Insects, Experts, and the Insecticide Crisis: The
Quest for New Pest Management Strategies (New York: Plenum Press,
1982), p. 33.