Silent Spring

Recently finished Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and it was an eye opener and really inspirational.

After the book emerged there was an outcry that followed its publication forcing the banning of DDT and spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet rings powerfully and her influential book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement.

Background:

Carson had become concerned about the effect of pesticides, DDT particularly, as early as the 1940s, when anti-pest campaigns had been part of the Pacific war effort. She had begun collecting research on the matter and calling others’ attention to it when a 1957 lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Agriculture regarding aerial spraying over Long Island caught her attention and caused her to begin work on what became Silent Spring.

Silent Spring took Carson four years to complete. It described how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals, including human beings, and caused cancer and genetic damage. A single application on a crop, she wrote, killed insects for weeks and months, and not only the targeted insects but countless more and remained toxic in the environment even after it was diluted by rainwater.

Carson concluded that DDT and other pesticides had irrevocably harmed birds and animals and had contaminated the entire world food supply. The book’s most haunting and famous chapter, “A Fable for Tomorrow,” depicted a nameless American town where all life — from fish to birds to apple blossoms to human children — had been “silenced” by the insidious effects of DDT.

Thesis:

Silent Spring argued that uncontrolled and unexamined pesticide use was harming and killing not only animals and birds, but humans as well. Its title was meant to evoke a spring season in which no bird songs could be heard, because they had all vanished as a result of pesticide abuse.

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