Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2012

‘Silent Spring’, written by Rachel Carson and published in 1962, is widely credited with having launched the environmental movement. Serialised in The New Yorker, it caused a furore. The first chapter presents a fictionalised portrait of the devastating effects that chemicals could have on a thriving farming community “Some evil spell had settled on the community; mysterious maladies swept the flocks of chickens; the cattle and sheep sickened and died. Everywhere was a shadow of death.”?  But what has been happening to environmental thinking since Silent Spring?

Here, five key figures in the world of environmentalism deliver essays on Silent Spring and some of the important works that followed it.

Part 1: Silent Spring – writer and academic Jules Pretty of the University of Essex kicks off the series with a look at Silent Spring itself and then key figures in the environmental world will explore some of the texts that have followed on from Silent Spring.

Part 2: The Population Bomb – population biologist Charles Godfray of Oxford University, tackles ‘The Population Bomb’, published in 1968, a text that warned of mass starvation to come in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation.

Part 3: The Limits To Growth – Godfrey Boyle, of the Open University assesses the impact of ‘The Limits to Growth’, a 1972 book about the dangers of unchecked economic and population growth.

Part 4: Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World – Policy Director of Sustain, Kath Dalmeny explores ‘Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World’, a book that examines how the most profitable fish in history is today faced with extinction.

Part 5: The Creation – poet Melanie Challenger has written about her environmental concerns in ‘On Extinction : How we became estranged from nature’, and here she examines E O Wilson’s ‘The Creation’, a call for unity between religion and science.

Produced by Neil Rosser & Ladbroke Productions (Radio) Ltd for BBC Radio 3



N.B. Some audio has been edited from the original broadcast version due to copyright restrictions




Neil Rosser


Neil Rosser




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