Malaria and the Silent Spring
In 1963, the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring—which some called the most controversial book of the year—put the nation and world on alert to the dangers of overuse and misuse of chemical pesticides—in particular, Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT. The synthetic insecticide had been revered for its ability to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes during World War II—in fact, its discovery led to a Nobel Prize. But the publication of Silent Spring sparked a government investigation into the widespread use of pesticides. Ultimately, this led to a ban of DDT in the United States; many other countries followed suit.
Decades later, with malaria on the rise, critics of Rachel Carson charge that she is to blame for deaths around the globe. In this co-production with Retro Report, scientists and historians weigh in on Carson, and today’s battle against malaria.