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Who said: “I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, ... finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell ... whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
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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 (12 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 (96)

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 (89)  |  Insecticide (2)  |  Pollution (23)

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 (89)  |  Marine Biology (12)  |  Sea (65)  |  Truth (495)

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 (15)  |  Beauty (107)  |  Belief (161)  |  Development (137)  |  Earth (277)  |  Feature (19)  |  Growth (75)  |  Individual (68)  |  Man-Made (4)  |  Mankind (123)  |  Natural (53)  |  Necessity (89)  |  Retarded (2)  |  Society (94)  |  Spiritual (12)  |  Substitute (13)

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 (96)

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 (53)  |  Arise (9)  |  Change (155)  |  Continue (7)  |  Curious (11)  |  Existence (166)  |  Form (79)  |  Life (524)  |  Marine Biology (12)  |  Sea (65)  |  Sinister (7)  |  Situation (22)  |  Threat (11)

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 (60)  |  Environment (89)  |  Pollution (23)

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 (26)  |  Biography (201)  |  Discovery (411)  |  Fiction (12)  |  History (174)  |  Illuminate (3)  |  Literature (37)  |  Science (998)  |  Separate (14)  |  Truth (495)

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 (107)  |  Book (107)  |  Creating (7)  |  Deliberately (4)  |  Discovery (411)  |  Leaving (9)  |  Majesty (5)  |  Motion (80)  |  Poetry (70)  |  Quality (33)  |  Science (998)  |  Sea (65)  |  Tide (10)  |  Wind (32)  |  Wonder (73)  |  Write (22)

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, 2002), 297.
Science quotes on:  |  Environment (89)

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 (73)  |  Belonging (10)  |  Challenge (18)  |  Environment (89)  |  Everyday (9)  |  Experience (151)  |  Force (94)  |  Human Being (18)  |  Impossibility (39)  |  Isolation (18)  |  Knowledge (749)  |  Laboratory (83)  |  Life (524)  |  Material (74)  |  Mental (25)  |  Molding (2)  |  Notion (18)  |  Physical (39)  |  Priest (11)  |  Reality (73)  |  Science (998)  |  Scientific (73)  |  Separate (14)  |  Truth (495)  |  Understanding (256)



Quotes by others about Rachel Carson (1)

[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 (4)  |  Chemical (40)  |  Chick (2)  |  Corporation (4)  |  Environment (89)  |  Falcon (2)  |  Farm (5)  |  Human (198)  |  Impact (11)  |  Product (36)  |  Shock (8)  |  Sick (7)


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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