Silent Spring is an environmental science book by Rachel Carson. The book was published on September 27, 1962, documenting the adverse environmental effects caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting the industry’s marketing claims unquestioningly.
Starting in the late 1950s, prior to the book’s publication, Carson had focused her attention on environmental conservation, especially environmental problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result of her research was Silent Spring, which brought environmental concerns to the American public. The book was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, but, owing to public opinion, it brought about numerous changes. It spurred a reversal in the United States’ national pesticide policy, led to a nationwide ban on DDT for agricultural uses, and helped to inspire an environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In 1996, a follow-up book, Beyond Silent Spring, co-written by H.F. van Emden and David Peakall, was published. In 2006, Silent Spring was named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by the editors of Discover magazine.
Its title was inspired by a poem by John Keats, “La Belle Dame sans Merci”, which contained the lines “The sedge is wither’d from the lake, And no birds sing.“