Silent Spring at 50

Reflections on an Environmental Classic

Published: 
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Summary

Fifty years after the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, the book's legacy is mixed. It helped raise awareness about the costs of mass spraying operations, but it also provided justification for campaigns against the use of DDT in malaria control programs, which contributed to the deaths of millions in Africa and Asia.

Earlier in her writing career, Carson was a well respected nature writer, but in Silent Spring, she shifted to advocating positions linked to a darker tradition in American environmental thinking: neo-Malthusian population control and anti-technology efforts. Her background as a nature writer gave credence to these views and helped build those darker themes into mainstream environmentalism today. In this PERC Policy Series, Roger E. Meiners and Andrew P. Morriss argue that Carson's red flag was raised too high.

Read the full essay here

  An economist and lawyer, Roger Meiners defends the superiority of the common law--legal traditions developed through the courts--over federal regulation. In his view, the success of markets is intertwined with the common laws strong protection for property rights. Common law protects the environment by allowing individuals to take action...
Read More > More Articles by Roger Meiners >
Andrew Morriss is the author or coauthor of more than 50 scholarly articles, books, and book chapters. He serves as a Research Fellow at the New York University Center for Labor and Employment Law, a Senior Fellow at the Property & Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana, and a Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason...
Read More > More Articles by Andrew Morriss >