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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 16:57 GMT
Faces of the week
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are RACHEL CARSON (main picture), with CLIVE GOODMAN, PAMELA ANDERSON, SPORTACUS and SNOOP DOGG.


There is more concern than ever about the environment - but mention Rachel Carson and most people won't recognise the name.

And yet Ms Carson has just been named by a panel of experts as the leading environmental campaigner of all time. For headline writers, she is Mother Earth.

It was in 1962 that Rachel Carson shocked her native America with a book entitled Silent Spring. In it she issued a stark warning about the unrestrained use of pesticides and is widely credited with having given birth to the green movement.

According to her biographer, Linda Lear, her writings are still relevant today - more than 40 years after she first roused the environmental conscience of the world.

Barrels of DDT pesticide
Barrels of DDT pesticide: now banned
Rachel Carson was born in 1907 and grew up in Springdale, a small town in Pennsylvania. She spent a great deal of time roaming the countryside - learning about nature from her mother.

After school she went to the Pennsylvania College for Women to study English, but under the influence of a favourite tutor, she switched to biology. Later, she studied Zoology and in particular, fish.

She was able to pursue her two main interests in life - writing and science - when she got a job writing radio scripts for the US Fisheries and Wildlife Service.

Then in 1941, Rachel Carson, published her first book, Under the Sea-Wind, which presents a vivid picture of the struggle for life in the ocean. It had good reviews but didn't sell particularly well.

Two others followed, including The Sea Around Us, which describes the processes which formed the moon, the earth and the oceans. Her writing demonstrates a rare skill - the ability to convey complicated scientific information in moving, lyrical prose.

Pesticide concern

"The next time you stand on a beach at night," she wrote "watching the moon's bright path across the water, and conscious of the moon-drawn tides, remember that the moon itself may have been born of a great tidal wave of earthly substance, torn off into space."

The Sea Around Us was an instant hit, selling more than a million copies, and like her other volumes, is still in print. The financial rewards enabled her to buy a house on the coast of Maine, where she moved with her mother. She was also able to give up her government job to concentrate on her writing full time.

But then in the late 1950s she changed tack - and prompted by her concern over the indiscriminate use of pesticides, in particular DDT, she set to work on a volume which would provide her with a place in history.

Silent Spring opens with what Rachel Carson calls a fable for tomorrow. A prosperous town set in beautiful countryside is suddenly struck by a terrible blight; the people die from mysterious illnesses, the chickens stop laying and the birds and fish disappear.

Silent Spring book cover
Rachel Carson's seminal work
"I know of no community that has experienced all the misfortunes I describe," she writes "Yet every one of these disasters has actually happened somewhere."

The book she says is an attempt to explain what has silenced spring in countless towns across America.

But big business was ranged against her. As news of her project spread, companies with interests in agriculture and chemicals began undermining her scientific credentials.

When the book was finally published she was dismissed by some as an amateur and hysterical spinster. The apocalyptic nature of her writing didn't help, drawing accusations of sensationalism.

But Silent Spring was a roaring success with the public and within months, government policy was changing. Rachel Carson was invited to speak before a Senate scientific committee, and in 1972 the use of DDT was finally stopped as the Government publicly accepted the risks it posed to the environment and human health.

The woman who'd prompted that U-turn, didn't live to see her victory; in 1964, just two years after the book came out, she died of breast cancer.

But within a decade of her death several green political parties had been formed and the UN had held its first environment conference.

According to Tony Juniper, of Friends of the Earth, those developments can be largely credited to Rachel Carson. "She put the fire into the tinderbox of the environmental movement. Her intervention with Silent Spring made it logical to move into political campaigning and, although a lot still needs to be done, the changes over the last thirty years have been dramatic".

Clive Goodman

Clive Goodman, the royal editor of Britain's best-selling Sunday tabloid, The News of the World, has admitted in court that he hacked into messages left on the mobile phones of members of the Royal Family's staff. He apologised to the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry for a "gross invasion of privacy".

Pamela Anderson

Four months ago, Pamela Anderson married Kid Rock - real name Bob Richie - on a St Tropez yacht dressed in a bikini. She described it as "the best, most romantic wedding of all time". In true Hollywood style, the couple both filed for divorce this week blaming "irreconcilable differences".

Sportacus aka Magnus Scheving

Stand aside Magnus Magnusson and Bjork, Iceland's biggest export is now Sportacus. Loved by millions of kids in more than a 100 countries around the world, Sportacus is the star of the latest hit show, Lazy Town. The energetic, fruit loving super-hero played by Magnus Scheving, a former world champion acerobics athlete, is credited with a 20% increase in the sale of vegetables in Iceland.

Snoop Dogg

Rapper Snoop Dogg was apprehended for the third time in three months when police hauled him after he'd just performed on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno. The charges relate to the possession of weapons and drugs. In September, he was bailed for possessing a weapon, and, last month was also arrested for possession of a gun and drugs.

Written by BBC News Profiles Unit's Helen Morgan-Wynne

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