Rachael Carson, Silent Spring and Compliance Leadership


One of the constant tensions in any corporate compliance department or legal department is when to exercise leadership. While many corporate executives fall into the “lawyers are better seen than heard from” camp there are times when we must say ‘No’. While Mike Volkov continually sounds the horn against compliance practitioners becoming ‘Dr. No’ to which I would add inhabiting ‘the Land of No’ it’s a component of the job. The question is twofold; when to say no and how to say no.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachael Carson’s seminal and transformative work “Silent Spring” which in many ways directly led to the modern environmental movement. Rachael Carson’s “life shows that individual agency, fueled by resolution and hard work, has the power to change the world.” The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970; the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which began operations in 1972; the banning of the use of the pesticide DDT in the United States and the enactment of both the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the Endangered Species Act in 1973; all of which began with Carson’s book.

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