Rachel Louise Carson Google Doodle Celebrates Environmentalist and ‘Silent Spring’ Author

    May 27, 2014
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

Today, Google is celebrating influential environmentalist Rachel Louise Carson, whose 1962 book Silent Spring is credited with exposing everyday Americans to the various environmental problems facing the country, and thus sparking the modern day environmental movement. Her work played a huge part in the ban of harmful pesticides like DDT, as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Carson began her career as a marine biologist and nature writer. She won a National Book Award in 1952 for her book The Sea Around Us, the second book in her “sea trilogy” that gained her fame in her early career. The preceding book Under the Sea Wind and its follow-up The Edge of the Sea were both popular, but nowhere near as popular as The Sea Around Us, which sold over 250,000 copies in the year of its publication.

In the late 1950s, Carson became interested with the effects of pesticides on the environment, partly due to a letter published in the The Boston Herald that discussed the possible effects of aerial DDT spraying on local bird populations.

A few years later, Carson would complete Silent Spring, widely thought of as one of the most important texts in the modern environmental movement. In Silent Spring, Carson argued that “pesticides” should really be called “biocides,” because they were in effect harming much more than the pests they were intended to.

Not only did she call out pesticides, but she pointed a finger at various chemical companies, claiming that they were guilty of spreading misinformation to the public. Carson also suggested that humans were currently suffering from the poisons.

DDT was one of Carson’s main targets in Silent Spring, and it was her book that eventually led to its ban. Silent Spring never called for the ban of all pesticides, but instead a more careful use and closer monitoring because they were no doubt affecting the environment. Even so, Silent Spring received a lot of blowback from the chemical industry. Most scientists who reviewed her work threw her their support, however. In some circles, Carson and her most famous work is still controversial to this day.

Just a couple of years after the publication of Silent Spring, Carson died of a heart attack after a long battle with breast cancer. President Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom–the highest civilian award in the United States.

Google honors her with a Doodle on what would be her 107th birthday.

Images via Google, Wikimedia Commons

  • John P

    Rich white greens might celebrate – poor brown people living in malarial areas probably won’t.

    The USA ban on DDT became, via a series of bureaucratic machinations of breathtaking stupidity and arrogance, a global one. (When I spoke to William Ruckelshaus, who was responsible for the USA ban, over three decades later, he mentioned that I was the first journalist to contact him since the ban, and went on record as saying that if he had been deciding for Sri Lanka, he wouldn’t have banned it). The consequences are catastrophic – genocidal in the words of the late great Michael Crichton – and the rigid puritanical streak of many greens in pursuing the ban (and trying to close the last DDT factory on earth) is extraordinarily inhumane.

    I wish the younger generation, less blinkered by the fetishistic hatred of DDT, would re-examine the evidence and fight for it to be used again for indoor residual spraying. Because Mother Nature isn’t always benign and, you know, like really really nice: she’s also a serial killer.

    In fact I wish greens in general would look a bit more closely at the evidence base. DDT is one of the most studied – and storied – chemicals in history. Most of its replacements are not (and many are rather nasty).

    At least let us have the debate – as a matter of urgency. Imagine ten Jumbo jets, fully laden with children and young mothers, crashed into Mount Kilimanjaro today. And tomorrow. And tomorrow. That’s the scale at which we’re (not) dealing with this problem.

    It’s time to be less green and more brown, frankly.


  • bgrnathan

    NATURAL LIMITS TO EVOLUTION: Only micro-evolution, or evolution within biological “kinds,” is genetically possible (such as the varieties of dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc.), but not macro-evolution, or evolution across biological “kinds,” (such as from sea sponge to human). All real evolution in nature is simply the expression, over time, of already existing genes or variations of already existing genes. For example, we have breeds of dogs today that we didn’t have a few hundred years ago. The genes for these breeds had always existed in the dog population but never had opportunity before to be expressed. Only limited evolution or adaptation, variations of already existing genes and traits, is possible.

    The genes (chemical instructions or code) must first exist or otherwise the evolution cannot occur. Genes instruct the body to build our tissues and organs. Nature is mindless and has no ability to design and program entirely new genes for entirely new traits. Nature can only work with the genetic ability already existing in species. Nature cannot perform the genetic engineering necessary to increase that genetic ability.

    Many people have wrong ideas of how evolution is supposed to work. Physical traits and characteristics are determined and passed on by genes – not by what happens to our body parts. For example, if a woman were to lose her finger this wouldn’t affect how many fingers her baby will have. Changing the color and texture of your hair will not affect the color and texture of your children’s hair. So, even if an ape’s muscles and bones changed so that it could walk upright it still would not be able to pass on this trait to its offspring. Only changes or mutations that occur in the genetic code of reproductive cells (i.e. sperm and egg) can be passed on to offspring.

    Modern evolutionists believe and hope that over, supposedly, millions of years, random genetic mutations in the genes of reproductive cells caused by environmental radiation will generate entirely new genes. This is total blind and irrational faith on the part of evolutionists. It’s much like believing that randomly changing the sequence of letters in a romance novel, over millions of years, will turn it into a book on astronomy! That’s the kind of blind faith macro-evolutionists have.

    When evolutionary scientists teach that random genetic mutations in species over, supposedly, millions of years caused by random environmental agents such as radiation, produced entirely new genes (i.e. genetic code or genetic information) leading to entirely new forms of life, they are not teaching science but simply a faith, a belief!

    Mutations are accidents in the genetic, are mostly harmful, and have no capability of producing greater complexity in the code. Even if a good accident occurred, for every good one there would be hundreds of harmful ones with the net result, over time, being harmful, even lethal, to the species. At best, mutations only produce further variations within a natural species. Even so, mutations are not the best explanation for variations within a natural species.

    Since it is not rational to believe that genetic information, or any form of information, can arise by chance, it is totally rational to believe that God (the Supreme Genetic Engineer) placed within all natural species, in the beginning, with all of the recessive and dominant genes that produced all of the intra-species variations in nature.

    If life on earth had really existed for millions of years, all species would have become extinct by now due to the colossal number of accumulated mutations over time (please read the author’s popular Internet article, ARE FOSSILS REALLY MILLIONS OF YEARS OLD?).

    What about natural selection? Natural selection doesn’t produce biological traits or variations. It can only “select” from biological variations that are possible and which have survival value. The term “natural selection” is a figure of speech. Nature doesn’t do any conscious selecting. If a variation occurs in a species (i.e. change in skin color) that helps the species survive then that survival is called being “selected.” That’s all it is. Natural selection is a passive process in nature, not a creative process.

    How could species have survived if their vital tissues, organs, reproductive systems, etc. were still evolving? A partially evolved trait or organ that is not complete and fully functioning from the start would be a liability to a species, not a survival asset. Plants and animals in the process of macro-evolution would be unfit for survival. For example, “if a leg of a reptile were to evolve (over supposedly millions of years) into a wing of a bird, it would become a bad leg long before it became a good wing” (Dr. Walt Brown, scientist and creationist). Survival of the fittest actually would have prevented evolution across biological kinds! Read my Internet article: WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS! (2nd Edition).

    All species of plants and animals in the fossil record are found complete, fully-formed, and fully functional. This is powerful evidence that species did not come into existence gradually by any macro-evolutionary process but, rather, came into existence as complete and ready-to-go from the very beginning, which is possible only by special creation.

    All the fossils that have been used to support human evolution have been found to be either hoaxes, non-human, or human, but not non-human and human (i.e. Neanderthal Man was discovered later to be fully human). Textbooks and museums still continue to display examples and illustrations supporting human evolution which most evolutionists have rejected and no longer support. Many diagrams of ape-man creatures over the years were reconstructed according to evolutionary interpretations from disputable bones that have now been discredited but still being taught in school textbooks.

    What about genetic and biological similarities between species? Genetic information, like other forms of information, cannot happen by chance, so it is more logical to believe that genetic and biological similarities between all forms of life are due to a common Designer who designed similar functions for similar purposes. It doesn’t mean all forms of life are biologically related! Only genetic similarities within a natural species proves relationship because it’s only within a natural species that members can interbreed and reproduce

    Also, so-called “Junk DNA” isn’t junk. Although these “non-coding” segments of DNA don’t code for proteins, they have recently been found to be vital in regulating gene expression (i.e. when, where, and how genes are expressed, so they’re not “junk”). Read my popular Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM

    The real issue is what biological variations are possible, not natural selection.

    Visit my latest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION .

    I discuss: Punctuated Equilibria, “Junk DNA,” genetics, mutations, natural selection, fossils, dinosaur “feathers,” the genetic and biological similarities between various species, etc., etc.

    Babu G. Ranganathan*
    (B.A. theology/biology)


    *I have had the privilege of being recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who In The East” for my writings on religion and science. I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterward) before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges/universities.