The beginning of environment

One of the lessons taught me at graduate school, after the first semester, is that I must take up serious reading if I plan to complete the program. The first semester was a transition period, having gone back to the academe, cold after almost a decade in the workplace, and going through transitions, like pulling out teeth, are difficult experiences. It’s not that reading is new or an abhorrence to me because I like reading, but it’s the kind of literature to read. With graduate school reading, it’s “serious” stuff, at least by academic standards (as opposed to a more fluid, collaborative learning among practitioners).

Anyway. It must be serendipity when, browsing through the topsy turvy of second hand books in a store, I came to Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. I couldn’t believe my luck! I immediately grabbed the book from the shelf, the movement threatening to bring down the stack of books, because I feared the people on both my side were wanting it as badly.


Silent Spring is, to the biblical history of the earth, the Garden of Eden, where it all began. The seminal work gave birth to the environment movement and the perspective of interconnectedness in environment discourse. For the US, it influenced the government to take up environmental protection, putting up the Environmental Protection Agency to that role. For a very powerful agency, the US government, to do that, tells much of the power of the publication.

While the book forever changed how ‘environment’ is perceived, it brought the author, Rachel Carson, a biologist, much negative reviews, expectedly from the corporate sector, until her death. Only her closest knew that at the time, Carson was stricken with cancer and one could only imagine how her courage has been tried to the fullest.


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