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Fifty years have passed since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the book many credit with sparking the environmental movement – an anniversary worth celebrating on Earth Day, April 22. 
The book has deep connections to Michigan State University, from the late MSU ornithologistGeorge Wallace’s research that was featured prominently in the book to the establishment of the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability at MSU and a legacy of environmental science research being conducted today.
Before Carson’s book, DDT was touted as a cure-all pesticide suitable for solving many of the world’s problems, including eliminating malarial mosquitoes, the beetles responsible for spreading Dutch elm disease and even treating lice on humans. To protect the stately elms that lined MSU’s campus, the university, like many other institutions and municipalities, used DDT liberally, employing misters to treat the trees.
Silent Spring, which is ranked No. 2 on New York University’s Top 100 Works of Journalism, is widely credited for opening the world’s eyes to the negative effects of many pesticides and helped lead to the banning of DDT in the United States in 1972, said Gary Morgan, director of the MSU Museum. In May, the museum will feature the exhibit, “Echoes of Silent Spring,” that will look at the impacts and legacy of the book, the MSU connections, the first showing of recently discovered correspondence between Wallace and Carson, specimens of birds affected by pesticide use, archival film footage and more.
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