Silent Spring Revisited is an excellent book that chronicles what has happened in terms of bird conservation since Rachel Carson’s landmark book.
In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published and was immediately wrought with criticism and denouncement, largely because she was a woman and not part of the “inner circle” of scientists. Her book became a classic and is credited with sparking the environmental movement still going today.
Silent Spring Revisited chronicles the decades of bird conservation and environmental disasters since Silent Spring was published. Where Carson’s book focused on the United States, Conor Mark Jameson covers the United Kingdom, where he lives and writes. He was “born in Uganda to Irish parents, brought up in Scotland, and now lives in England.” Sadly, many problems, some different, still exist in this span of 50+ years.
Jameson doesn’t sugarcoat the negative impacts that the mismanagement of governmental programs has created. Nor does he back away from discussing the awful disasters caused by oil tanker spills and the harms caused by other private companies and industries. Overall, the book tends towards negativity but also brutal honesty. It isn’t a comfortable read by any means.
I read Silent Spring for an Environmental History course in college so decided to reread it while reading Silent Spring Revisited. Rachel Carson wasn’t an advocate for stopping all pest control, but instead focused on the tragic wholesale use of chemicals without any sufficient scientific backing. Many instances are cited throughout this classic and many chemical problems still exist today and are cited in Jameson’s book.
Carson discussed a lot of successful, non-harmful approaches to insect control as well, but these cover a much smaller portion of her book. Jameson’s book is similar in that it is lacking a lot of positive advice or insight into what can be done. It is true that we must learn the mistakes from the past to enhance our efforts for the future. But it is equally true that we need to focus more on hope and improvement; on what can be done not what has been done wrong.
Regardless, both Silent Spring and Silent Spring Revisited are essential reads for conservationists. But be prepared that the imagery presented at times is difficult to stomach.
We received a review copy of Silent Spring Revisited from the publisher. Silent Spring I checked out from my local library. Links are to our Powell’s Books affiliate account.