50 years on, Rachel Carson still a role model

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 18, 2013 05:50 hrs

Washington, Feb 18 (IANS) Rachel Carson, author of "Silent Spring" published over 50 years ago, got special mention at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting at Boston recently.

Carson wrote: "The 'control of nature' is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man."

"It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science (applied entomology) has armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turning them against the insects, it has also turned them against the earth."

Not many know that Carson spent time as a government employee before becoming a writer. That is where she got her true start in journalism, said G. Pascal Zachary, professor of practice with the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University.

"At a time when popular writers wanted to write about serious subjects and devote themselves to learning, there was little support for them commercially," Zachary said about Carson and her early career, according to an Arizona statement.

"I'm intrigued about how her career suggests a way forward for government to support serious writing and journalism about science and the environment," he added.

"When I talk about her as a model for the crisis in science journalism, what I mean is currently there is less and less quality science journalism," he said. "As a community, we have to figure out how to draw the line and get a minimal amount of quality science journalism."

Carson served as an information officer with the US Bureau of Fisheries and the Fish and Wildlife Service for nearly two decades before becoming an independent writer. During that time, she reported on news and findings from the agency.

Zachary believes Carson's experience and work in this field is what shaped her later writing. Additionally, her early government work proved an opportunity to develop her interests and writing.

With publications such as the New York Times recently disposing of their environmental desk, Zachary thinks the format of having government employees writing about science could be the way of the future.

"I'm trying to see Rachel Carson in both a historical sense and prefiguring and anticipating a movement that will reform or revolutionize science journalism today," Zachary said.

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