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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index C > Rachel Carson Quotes

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Rachel Carson
(27 May 1907 - 14 Apr 1964)

American marine biologist, conservationist and writer whose book Silent Spring (1962), denounced the indiscriminate use of pesticides, and helped launch the modern environmental movement.


Science Quotes by Rachel Carson (27 quotes)

A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.
— Rachel Carson
In The Sense of Wonder (1956, 1998), 54.
Science quotes on:  |  Child (189)

As crude a weapon as the cave man's club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life—a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways. [On the effect of chemical insecticides and fertilizers.]
— Rachel Carson
In Silent Spring, (1962), 297.
Science quotes on:  |  Environment (138)  |  Insecticide (2)  |  Pollution (37)

By their very nature chemical controls are self-defeating, for they have been devised and applied without taking into account the complex biological systems against which they have been blindly hurled.
— Rachel Carson
Silent Spring (1962), 246.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (45)  |  Apply (38)  |  Biological (21)  |  Blindly (2)  |  Chemical (72)  |  Complex (78)  |  Control (93)  |  Devise (11)  |  Hurl (2)  |  Nature (1029)  |  System (141)

Even in the vast and mysterious reaches of the sea we are brought back to the fundamental truth that nothing lives to itself.
— Rachel Carson
Silent Spring, Introduction.
Science quotes on:  |  Environment (138)  |  Marine Biology (23)  |  Sea (143)  |  Truth (750)

Future generations are unlikely to condone our lack of prudent concern for the integrity of the natural world that supports all life.
— Rachel Carson
Silent Spring (1962), 13.
Science quotes on:  |  Concern (76)  |  Future (229)  |  Generation (111)  |  Integrity (11)  |  Lack (52)  |  Life (917)  |  Natural World (21)  |  Prudent (3)  |  Support (63)  |  Unlikely (12)

I believe natural beauty has a necessary place in the spiritual development of any individual or any society. I believe that whenever we substitute something man-made and artificial for a natural feature of the earth, we have retarded some part of man’s spiritual growth.
— Rachel Carson
As quoted in Linda Lear, Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature (1997), 259.
Science quotes on:  |  Artificial (26)  |  Beauty (171)  |  Belief (400)  |  Development (228)  |  Earth (487)  |  Feature (34)  |  Growth (111)  |  Individual (177)  |  Man-Made (4)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Natural (128)  |  Necessity (125)  |  Retarded (3)  |  Society (188)  |  Spiritual (45)  |  Substitute (23)

If Darwin were alive today the insect world would delight and astound him with its impressive verification of his theories of the survival of the fittest. Under the stress of intensive chemical spraying the weaker members of the insect populations are being weeded out… . Only the strong and fit remain to defy our efforts to control them.
— Rachel Carson
Science quotes on:  |  Astound (3)  |  Chemical (72)  |  Control (93)  |  Charles Darwin (284)  |  Defy (5)  |  Delight (51)  |  Effort (94)  |  Entomology (5)  |  Impressive (11)  |  Insect (57)  |  Intensive (7)  |  Population (71)  |  Remain (77)  |  Spray (4)  |  Strong (47)  |  Survival Of The Fittest (34)  |  Theory (582)  |  Verification (20)  |  Weak (36)  |  Weed (14)

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.
— Rachel Carson
In The Sense of Wonder (1956, 1998), 54.
Science quotes on:  |  Child (189)

In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is a story of the earth.
— Rachel Carson
In 'Our Ever-Changing Shore', Holiday (Jul 1958). Collected in Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson (2011), 114.
Science quotes on:  |  Beach (14)  |  Coast (11)  |  Earth (487)  |  Geology (187)  |  Grain (24)  |  Sand (25)  |  Story (58)

In nature, nothing exists alone.
— Rachel Carson
In Silent Spring (1962), 51.
Science quotes on:  |  Alone (61)  |  Exist (89)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Nothing (267)

It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.
— Rachel Carson
The Sea Around Us (1951).
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (97)  |  Arise (32)  |  Change (291)  |  Continue (38)  |  Curious (24)  |  Existence (254)  |  Form (210)  |  Life (917)  |  Marine Biology (23)  |  Sea (143)  |  Sinister (8)  |  Situation (41)  |  Threat (24)

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.
— Rachel Carson
In 'The Exceeding Beauty of the Earth', This Week Magazine (1952). As cited in Karen F. Stein, Rachel Carson: Challenging Authors (2013), 55.
Science quotes on:  |  Beauty (171)  |  Contemplation (37)  |  Earth (487)  |  Humility (20)  |  Necessary (89)  |  Sense (240)  |  Wholesome (6)  |  Wonder (134)

It took hundreds of millions of years to produce the life that now inhabits the earth–eons of time in which that developing and evolving and diversifying life reached a state of adjustment and balance with its surroundings.
— Rachel Carson
In Silent Spring (1962), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Adjustment (12)  |  Balance (43)  |  Develop (55)  |  Diversify (2)  |  Earth (487)  |  Eon (8)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Inhabit (13)  |  Life (917)  |  Million (89)  |  Produce (63)  |  Surroundings (5)  |  Time (439)  |  Year (214)

Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.
— Rachel Carson
On the effect of chemical insecticides and fertilizers, Silent Spring, Houghton Mifflin (1962)
Science quotes on:  |  Bird (96)  |  Environment (138)  |  Pollution (37)

The aim of science is to discover and illuminate truth. And that, I take it, is the aim of literature, whether biography or history or fiction. It seems to me, then, that there can be no separate literature of science.
— Rachel Carson
Address upon receiving National Book Award at reception, Hotel Commodore, New York (27 Jan 1952). As cited in Linda Lear, Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature (1997), 219.
Science quotes on:  |  Aim (58)  |  Biography (227)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Fiction (16)  |  History (302)  |  Illuminate (12)  |  Literature (64)  |  Science (1699)  |  Separate (46)  |  Truth (750)

The balance of nature is not a status quo; it is fluid, ever shifting, in a constant state of adjustment.
— Rachel Carson
In Silent Spring (1962), 246.
Science quotes on:  |  Adjustment (12)  |  Balance (43)  |  Constant (40)  |  Fluid (18)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Shift (21)  |  Status Quo (2)

The birth of a volcanic island is an event marked by prolonged and violent travail; the forces of the earth striving to create, and all the forces of the sea opposing.
— Rachel Carson
(1961).
Science quotes on:  |  Birth (81)  |  Create (98)  |  Earth (487)  |  Force (194)  |  Geology (187)  |  Island (17)  |  Oppose (16)  |  Prolonged (3)  |  Sea (143)  |  Travail (2)  |  Violent (15)  |  Volcano (36)

The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place. All through the long history of Earth it has been an area of unrest where waves have broken heavily against the land, where the tides have pressed forward over the continents, receded, and then returned. For no two suc-cessive days is the shore line precisely the same. Not only do the tides advance and retreat in their eternal rhythms, but the level of the sea itself is never at rest. It rises or falls as the glaciers melt or grow, as the floor of the deep ocean basins shifts under its increasing load of sediments, or as the Earth’s crust along the continental margins warps up or down in adjustment to strain and tension. Today a little more land may belong to the sea, tomorrow a little less. Always the edge of the sea remains an elusive and indefinable boundary.
— Rachel Carson
The Edge of the Sea
Science quotes on:  |  Adjustment (12)  |  Advance (123)  |  Area (18)  |  Basin (2)  |  Beautiful (81)  |  Belong (33)  |  Boundary (27)  |  Break (33)  |  Continent (39)  |  Crust (17)  |  Deep (81)  |  Down (44)  |  Earth (487)  |  Edge (16)  |  Elusive (6)  |  Eternal (43)  |  Fall (89)  |  Floor (16)  |  Forward (21)  |  Glacier (13)  |  Grow (66)  |  Heavily (3)  |  History Of Earth (2)  |  Increase (107)  |  Indefinable (2)  |  Land (83)  |  Less (54)  |  Level (51)  |  Line (44)  |  Little (126)  |  Load (8)  |  Long (95)  |  Margin (5)  |  Melt (15)  |  Ocean (115)  |  Place (111)  |  Precisely (11)  |  Press (16)  |  Recede (2)  |  Remain (77)  |  Rest (64)  |  Retreat (9)  |  Return (35)  |  Rhythm (12)  |  Rise (51)  |  Same (92)  |  Sea (143)  |  Sediment (7)  |  Shift (21)  |  Shore (11)  |  Strain (8)  |  Strange (61)  |  Tension (7)  |  Tide (18)  |  Today (86)  |  Tomorrow (29)  |  Unrest (2)  |  Warp (5)  |  Wave (55)

The frillshark has many anatomical features similar to those of the ancient sharks that lived 25 to 30 million years ago. It has too many gills and too few dorsal fins for a modern shark, and its teeth, like those of fossil sharks, are three-pronged and briarlike. Some ichthyologists regard it as a relic derived from very ancient shark ancestors that have died out in the upper waters but, through this single species, are still carrying on their struggle for earthly survival, in the quiet of the deep sea.
— Rachel Carson
(1961).
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomy (59)  |  Ancient (68)  |  Deep Sea (7)  |  Fin (3)  |  Fossil (107)  |  Gill (3)  |  Marine Biology (23)  |  Million (89)  |  Modern (104)  |  Relic (4)  |  Shark (6)  |  Struggle (60)  |  Survival (49)  |  Tooth (23)

The history of life on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and their surroundings.
— Rachel Carson
In Silent Spring (1962), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Earth (487)  |  History (302)  |  Interaction (28)  |  Life (917)  |  Surroundings (5)

The more I learned about the use of pesticides, the more appalled I became. I realized that here was the material for a book. What I discovered was that everything which meant most to me as a naturalist was being threatened, and that nothing I could do would be more important. (1962)
— Rachel Carson
Explaining her motivation for writing the book Silent Spring, quoted in Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman, 1952-1964 (1995), xxvii.

The winds, the sea, and the moving tides are what they are. If there is wonder and beauty and majesty in them, science will discover these qualities. If they are not there, science cannot create them. If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.
— Rachel Carson
Address upon receiving National Book Award at reception, Hotel Commodore, New York (27 Jan 1952). As cited in Linda Lear, Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature (1997), 219. She was referring to her book being recognized, The Sea Around Us.
Science quotes on:  |  Beauty (171)  |  Book (181)  |  Creating (7)  |  Deliberately (4)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Leaving (10)  |  Majesty (10)  |  Motion (127)  |  Poetry (96)  |  Quality (65)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sea (143)  |  Tide (18)  |  Truthful (2)  |  Wind (52)  |  Wonder (134)  |  Write (87)

The “control of nature” is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and the convenience of man.
— Rachel Carson
Silent Spring (1962), 297.
Science quotes on:  |  Environment (138)

There were tides in the earth, long before there was an ocean.
— Rachel Carson
(1961).
Science quotes on:  |  Earth (487)  |  Ocean (115)  |  Oceanography (16)  |  Tide (18)

This notion that “science” is something that belongs in a separate compartment of its own, apart from everyday life, is one that I should like to challenge. We live in a scientific age; yet we assume that knowledge of science is the prerogative of only a small number of human beings, isolated and priest-like in their laboratories. This is not true. It cannot be true. The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is part of the reality of living; it is the what, the how, and the why of everything in our experience. It is impossible to understand man without understanding his environment and the forces that have molded him physically and mentally.
— Rachel Carson
Address upon receiving National Book Award at reception, Hotel Commodore, New York (27 Jan 1952). As cited in Linda Lear, Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature (1997), 218-219.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (137)  |  Belonging (12)  |  Challenge (37)  |  Environment (138)  |  Everyday (13)  |  Experience (268)  |  Force (194)  |  Human Being (54)  |  Impossibility (50)  |  Isolation (26)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  Life (917)  |  Material (124)  |  Mental (57)  |  Mold (26)  |  Notion (32)  |  Physical (94)  |  Prerogative (2)  |  Priest (16)  |  Reality (140)  |  Science (1699)  |  Scientific (169)  |  Separate (46)  |  Truth (750)  |  Understanding (317)

Water must be thought of in terms of the chains of life it supports.
— Rachel Carson
In Silent Spring (1962), 46.
Science quotes on:  |  Chain (38)  |  Life (917)  |  Support (63)  |  Water (244)

When I think of the floor of the deep sea, the single, overwhelming fact that possesses my imagination is the accumulation of sediments.
— Rachel Carson
(1961).
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (29)  |  Deep Sea (7)  |  Floor (16)  |  Oceanography (16)  |  Sediment (7)



Quotes by others about Rachel Carson (5)

[About reading Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, age 14, in the back seat of his parents' sedan. I almost threw up. I got physically ill when I learned that ospreys and peregrine falcons weren't raising chicks because of what people were spraying on bugs at their farms and lawns. This was the first time I learned that humans could impact the environment with chemicals. [That a corporation would create a product that didn't operate as advertised] was shocking in a way we weren't inured to.
As quoted by Eliza Griswold, in 'The Wild Life of “Silent Spring”', New York Times (23 Sep 2012), Magazine 39.
Science quotes on:  |  Bug (10)  |  Chemical (72)  |  Chick (3)  |  Corporation (4)  |  Environment (138)  |  Falcon (2)  |  Farm (17)  |  Human (445)  |  Impact (21)  |  Lawn (3)  |  Product (72)  |  Shock (12)  |  Sick (23)

The poet laureate of the sea became Rachel Carson.
From Introduction to Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us (2003 edition), xviii. The original edition was published 1950.
Science quotes on:  |  Sea (143)

Rachel Carson. Her very name evokes the beatific luminosity of the canonized. Yet Carson was not a saint, but better, a prophet—that rare soul who diverts our attention into the path of the oncoming truth.
In his Foreward to Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us (1950, 2003), xvi.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (76)  |  Prophet (8)  |  Rare (31)  |  Saint (10)  |  Soul (139)  |  Truth (750)

Rachel Carson was the best thing America is capable of producing: a modest person, concerned, courageous, and profoundly right—all at the same time. Troubled by knowledge of an emerging threat to the web of life, she took pains to become informed, summoned her courage, breached her confines, and conveyed a diligently constructed message with eloquence enough to catalyze a new social movement. Her life addressed the promise and premise of being truly human.
In his Foreward to Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us (1950, 2003), xvi.
Science quotes on:  |  Concern (76)  |  Courage (39)  |  Eloquence (5)  |  Emerge (16)  |  Human (445)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Message (30)  |  Modest (4)  |  Movement (65)  |  Premise (14)  |  Promise (27)  |  Social (93)  |  Threat (24)  |  Web Of Life (4)

The stupidity of overfishing would have shocked Carson, herself a marine biologist. … Dredgers carve graveyards in seabeds, fertilisers fuel plankton blooms that result in oxygenless dead zones, and climate change threatens much sea life.
In 'Fifty Years On, the Silence of Rachel Carson’s Spring Consumes Us', The Guardian (25 Sep 2012). Griffiths also quotes a professor of marine conservation, Callum Roberts, from his Ocean of Life that “Since the 1950s, when she published her trilogy The Sea, two-thirds of the species we have fished have collapsed, and some species are down 99%.”
Science quotes on:  |  Bloom (5)  |  Carve (4)  |  Climate Change (56)  |  Fuel (27)  |  Graveyard (3)  |  Overfishing (25)  |  Oxygen (49)  |  Plankton (2)  |  Result (250)  |  Sea Life (4)  |  Shock (12)  |  Stupidity (27)  |  Threat (24)


See also:
  • 27 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Carson's birth.
  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Rachel Carson.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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