Rachel Carson’s brave, science-based book — the beginning of the environmental movement — turns 50. Have we learned anything from giant blunders in the name of progress?
'"It just rang true," says Bob Brown, former leader of Australia's Greens Party. "It slowly led to the formation of green politics globally; the establishment of departments of the environment and
ministers, the US's Environmental Protection Agency and eventually their Clean Air Act. Then the formation of the world's first green party in Tasmania in 1972. It was the watershed in modern eco-history."
"The natural systems upon which we are totally reliant have their limits," says Stephen Boyden, emeritus professor and founding professor in 1965 of the human ecology program at the Australian National University in Canberra.
"Tobacco, or thalidomide, or CFCs are examples of cultural maladaptation," says Boyden, "initially defended by vested interests until reversed by a decisive cultural shift by first-order reformers like Carson." He believes that the current backlash against the clear scientific evidence that humans are accelerating global warming, and the accompanying belief that we can produce a mechanical "fix" to adapt to an
earth with an altered biological cycle, are examples of, "the folly of our minds".'