Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson

Cato Institute, 2012

Book Forum
September 20, 2012 12:00PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring the co-editor Andrew Morriss, D. Paul Jones, Jr., & Charlene A. Jones Chairholder in Law and Professor of Business, University of Alabama; Senior Fellow, Property and Environment Research Center; Richard Tren, program officer at Searle Freedom Trust; moderated by Jerry Taylor, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute.

Widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement when published 50 years ago, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had a profound impact on our society. While Carson was not the first to write about the dangers of pesticides or to sound environmental alarms, her book captured and retained the attention of the public. As an iconic work, the book has received little critical inquiry, but this landmark anniversary provides an opportunity to reassess its legacy and influence. In Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson, experts explore the book’s historical context, the science it was built on, and the policy consequences of its core ideas. The conclusions reached by the authors make it clear that the legacy of Silent Spring is highly problematic. Carson made little effort to provide a balanced perspective and consistently ignored key evidence that would have contradicted her work. Thus, while the book provided a range of notable ideas, a number of Carson’s major arguments rested on what can only be described as deliberate ignorance. Silent Spring at 50 reveals the dangers of substituting sensationalism for fact, and apocalyptic pronouncements for genuine knowledge. Join Andrew Morriss, one of the book’s authors and editors, for what promises to be a unique and compelling discussion.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the Book Forum.