Silent Spring

Researching Silent Spring: Context and Reception 11th Grade

During the 1920s in the United States, farmers were suffering a depression due to the debt caused by overproduction of many crops during World War I. This depression continued into the 1930s as the Great Depression destroyed America’s economy and was eventually halted by World War II when the agriculture industry was heavily relied on again to supply for the war. It is during this time - in 1939 - that Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or DDT was found to be an effective pesticide in preventing insect borne diseases and crop damage. Its use spread rapidly for several decades until it was found to be detrimental to the environment. Most of this knowledge came to light thanks to Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, released in 1962. Now, 55 years later, many people wonder what direct effects Silent Spring had on the growth of the environmental movement in the United States. It is commonly thought that Silent Spring led to concerns about the America’s use of pesticides, especially DDT. It also helped to introduce the environmental movement to America by eliciting policy reform surrounding humans’ interactions with the natural world.

Farmers have used different forms of pesticides to boost plant growth for centuries and they fall...

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