Customer Reviews: American Experience: Rachel Carson's Silent Spring
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on August 13, 2007
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson helped spark the environmental movement of the sixties and led to many changes in how pesticides were used. This WGBH Public TV documentary is part of the American Experience series and includes historic footage of the indiscriminate use of DDT and other persistent pesticides after WWII. Rachel Carson was viciously attacked in the media and called a Communist, ignorant scientist and a hysterical woman for her efforts to protect the health of both humans and nature.

Rachel Carson was not the first person to warn of the dangers of these powerful chemicals. She was the first person who was able to gather the documentation to make a case against widespread spraying of our countryside. Her book was a best seller and was translated into many languages.

Rachel Carson was not against pesticides outright. She was against the widespread aerial spraying that killed hundreds of people, horses; and vast numbers of butterflies, bees, birds and other wildlife. DDT contaminated milk and other food items and killed important crop pollinators. DDT caused egg shell thinning and reproductive failures in our national symbol, the Bald Eagle and put this and other wildlife on a downward trend that lasted for decades due to the persistence of the nerve agents used.

I believe Rachel Carson would consider the use of pesticides in the homes of African villagers exposed to Malaria carrying mosquitoes as a prudent use of chemicals to protect ones health. This is what the World Health Organization is proposing in Africa.

This 55 minute DVD is a fine way to understand the significance of Silent Spring and how it changed America and led to safety standards for workers and how the chemicals were applied. It includes scientists and spokespersons from the pesticide industry who gave their side of the story in the sixties. I am thankful that then President John Kennedy listened to what this quiet woman with a passion for nature said and instituted the changes needed to protect our health and safety.
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on November 30, 2008
This DVD talks about the vital work Carson did to raise awareness of issues that the chemical industry wants us to remain unaware or unconcerned about. With the recent anniversary of the publication of her classic book, PR firms for Big Business started to accuse Carson of causing millions of deaths in Africa due to restrictions on DDT. It's an endless process to deconstruct the deception of corporate PR agents, but one consistent source to rebut the smears is the journal "Extra!" from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. In it, they talk about how the mosquito problem in Africa was caused by the use of pesticides that killed so many insects and bats and birds and reptiles that eat mosquitos. Also, they point out that other parts of the world like Mexico reduced malaria rates through approaches like reintroducing natural mosquito predators and making sure sources of standing water like old tires are kept dry.
With the global cancer epidemic, the last thing the world needs is more toxic substances poured onto the earth Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's At Stake for American Power. It's remarkable how many chemicals have been banned by the European Union, while the pressure groups of Big Business have continued putting people of the U.S. and the Global South at risk. Monsanto, Dow and DuPont have a fiduciary responsibility to increase sales; while citizens of the world have a moral obligation to resist threats to their health and the health of their children and non-human species. This DVD about Carson provides a wonderful introduction to this courageous person who changed the consciousness of the world. We need more like her.

See also:
Rachel Carson: Pioneer of Ecology (Women of Our Time)
E - The Environmental Magazine
The Corporation
Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
Toxic Deception: How the Chemical Industry Manipulates Science, Bends the Law and Endangers Your Health
The Body Toxic: How the Hazardous Chemistry of Everyday Things Threatens Our Health and Well-being
Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice
Nature's Operating Instructions: The True Biotechnologies (The Bioneers Series)
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on May 26, 2015
Rachel Carson’s life, work and legacy are covered succinctly in this documentary, first broadcast two decades ago as part of the PBS series “American Experience.” In less than an hour, we learn the essential facts of her life as a woman dedicated both to her family and to the natural environment.

Carson conducted limited field work as a marine biologist but distinguished herself as a writer and editor for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s scientific publications. She gained initial fame for her natural history, “The Sea Around Us,” published in 1951. In the late 50’s and early 60’s she turned her attention to the widespread aerial spraying of pesticides and wrote “Silent Spring,” a cri de coeur that woke people up to the thoughtless way we spread chemicals around our environment. One segment vividly captures the contrast between Carson’s environmental spirit and the attitude of the chemical giants. While Carson speaks about understanding how all species are interrelated and the necessity for greater care in our interactions with flora and fauna, a chemical company scientist bluntly dismisses that as nonsense because in modern times “Man controls nature.”

Carson’s writing was a major influence in the emergence of the environmental movement. How powerful was her message about man’s responsibility to nature? Over 50 years after her death, chemical companies still pour millions into campaigns to discredit her. The fact that she was dying of cancer during the years she defended her thesis before the public adds a poignant element to the story. This documentary shows Rachel Carson to be a woman of courage and integrity whose writing continues to inspire many today.
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on October 19, 2014
This movie surpassed my expectations . I read the book a long time ago & was not aware there was a movie out on the subject. In my opinion this lady single-handedly began the movement to be more aware of the fragile drop of soil in a vast cosmos that we live on. She made us aware that what we do effects ALL of us, everry living organism on the earth. Hopefully enough people see this & take it to heart....before it's too late!!
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on September 23, 2015
This documentary is for intelligent audiences. This "American Experience" documentary is really superb. Rachel Carson's personal letter to Dorothy Freeman toward the end of the program was a touching tribute - a real class act. I loved and admired the way the producer of this program handled Rachel's personal tragedies - with dignity and respect. Thank you for producing such a great documentary program. It has touched my life deeply.
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on February 17, 2011
This is a fabulous tribute to a remarkable woman far ahead of her time! A woman who stood in the face of adversity and held her precious ground so that all can partake a while longer in nature at it's best. Very few bilogist showed such passion for the environment and less conveyed her opitism within nature, Rachel Carson went head to toe with the opposition but always in her manner so softly yet quite adeptly. Her voice spoke volumes on the devastation of chemcals. At times she quietly spoke to closed ears but this did not distract her from her goal of educating people on the devastating damage and danger of pesticides and other unregulated chemicals defying nature. This slight woman was visiously attacked was called both ignorant and an hysterical woman when she warned of the enviormental devastation that was to come with no regualton She spoke quietly and drank from her treasured teacup sparking a revolution in environmental policy, She created a new ecological concsiouness. I am honored to have met her through her books and her documnetary, I would have been pleased to have as my friend share a cup of teamand to walk through the woods while she jubuliantly pointed out all interesting things of the earth. I will share her legacgy with my own family and friends. Thank you Rachel Carlson for being a good sister to the earth and a good sister to us all.
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on May 8, 2016
one mandatory book to begin to understand about climate change
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on November 13, 2013
I have wanted to see &/or read this book/movie since I first heard about it way back in the 60's or whenever it was it was written. Looking forward to seeing this film.
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on November 2, 2014
Fabulous and heartbreaking,
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on March 2, 2009
The life of Rachel Carson portrayed on this "Silent Spring" DVD is good and adequate.
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