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Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson Hardcover – September 16, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute (September 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937184994
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937184995
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Roger E. Meiners is chairman of the department of economics at the University of Texas at Arlington and a senior fellow at the Property & Environment Research Center, Bozeman, MT. Pierre Desrochers is associate professor of geography at the University of Toronto and senior research fellow at the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University. Andrew P. Morriss is professor of law and business at the University of Alabama and a senior fellow at the Property & Environment Research Center, Bozeman, MT.


Customer Reviews

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First, DDT is still available to African nations that wish to use it.
Frederick S. Goethel
With that said, I am sure that much of what Rachel Carson wrote was not based on rigorous analyis of data bases, because they did not exist at the time.
Retired Professor
This book would be more useful if it reckoned with that important insight with broader perspective.
Cernunnos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on June 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Right from the beginning, I think anyone reading this should note that any scientific work will suffer somewhat from scrutiny 50 years after the original work was done. It is the nature of science to continuously improve and investigate and as new and better equipment and tests are created, a certain amount of information will become stale and dated. With that said, it should also be noted that Silent Spring has held up quite well to this scrutiny a half a century later.

The authors, almost none of whom are scientists, pick and chose which subjects to investigate and they use methods that would be laughed from the real scientific community. Let's take Carson's words on cancer. She predicted that cancer cases would increase with the increasing use of synthetic chemicals. The authors, for some reason, chose to examine cancer deaths rather than cancer cases, which is like comparing apples and bananas. Treatment of numerous cancers has improved markedly since the book was written. Just because the death rates haven't increased, or have decreased, does not mean the number of cases hasn't. In addition, the death rates from the cancers most likely to be caused by chemical exposure are beginning to increase considerably and in the people (age wise) who would have been the most exposed. These include liver, pancreatic and lymphoma cancers.

Ironically, the authors took her to task for not pointing out the link between cigarettes and cancer. However, that really was not the point of the book…it was to warn about synthetic chemical use in the environment so why would Carson have addressed cigarettes. If we follow that logic, she also failed to link asbestos to cancer and the link was known then too. In addition, it was way outside her field of expertise.
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49 of 72 people found the following review helpful By E. Jaksetic on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The publication of Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring in 1962 was a landmark event in American environmentalism. This book of twelve essays takes a retrospective look at that iconic book from a variety of perspectives. Such a retrospective look is needed because: (1) the science of ecology, the environment, pesticides, and cancer did not become final or settled forever with the publication of Silent Spring; and (2) the passage of time since the publication of Silent Spring allows for an assessment of the economic and political consequences of the adoption of policies and practices espoused by Rachel Carson. Because science is not static in nature and is subject to reevaluation and revision in light of subsequent scientific research, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring cannot be considered the final, definitive word about any of the topics it discussed. And, in a representative democracy, political and policy decisions are not immune from periodic review and assessment to determine whether they should be continued, revised, or superseded by new decisions in light of new knowledge and practical experience.

Written by a variety of authors, the essays in this book reflect different writing styles and different perspectives.
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106 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Cernunnos on March 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It's useful to realize that this book is published by the Cato Institute, whose founders include the politically active Koch brothers who run Koch Industries. Koch Industries would have to pay estimated billions if We the People charged for dumping carbon emissions in the atmosphere, or more closely regulated chemical emissions. As is, they lobby tirelessly to continue the free usage of the public commons such as air and water, and to deny or obfuscate issues about climate change, chemical releases, etc.

The premise of this book is off, as it disputes Rachel Carson's precautionary warnings to more rigorously test the health and environmental impacts of synthetic chemicals before they are widely distributed into the environment. The fact is, only a handful (five) of 80,000 synthetic industrial chemicals in use have been banned, and not very many of them have been rigorously tested, as the ex-administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, stated. Recent studies have shown that new babies may already have up to 300 synthetic chemicals in their bodies at birth.

As Naomi Oreskes states in her excellent book "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming," Rachel Carson is an "American hero" for her work in alerting the public to the harms of indiscriminate chemical dumping. Oreskes also points out that there has been a concerted effort by corporate libertarians to confuse the science around issues that may lead to regulation. Oreskes writes, "In the demonizing of Rachel Carson, free marketeers realized that if you could convince people that an example of successful government regulation wasn't, in fact, successful--that is was actually a mistake--you could strengthen the argument against regulation in general.
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