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Ultimate Eco Warrior

Biologist Rachel Carson ushered in a new era of environmental concern with her book "Silent Spring."

© Bettmann/CORBIS

In the 1950s, the overuse of agricultural chemicals and fertilizers was commonplace. And the environmental damage they caused was, too.

Rachel Carson was a biologist and environmentalist who grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. She witnessed first-hand the degradation that happened when humans got carried away with their synthetic pesticides. In her 1962 book "Silent Spring," Carson detailed the deleterious effects of DDT, a pesticide that was initially used for fire ant control.

In her book, Carson produced evidence that DDT was a hazard to human health and to the environment. Perhaps most famously, DDT affected bird populations by causing their eggs to have thinner shells.

In spite of her documentation, industry proponents did their best to deny DDT's poisonous properties. They failed. The book became a best seller, and public backlash eventually prompted the ban on DDT. More profoundly, "Silent Spring" helped spark a new era of environmental concern that persists to this day.

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