‘Silent Spring” was a book that sparked national debate about the use of pesticides thanks to Rachel Carson. This includes the responsibility of science, and the limits of technological progress. Thanks to her, DDT would eventually be banned, and awareness would be brought to the relationship between humans and the natural world. Rachel Carson grew up with a writing talent, and always had an interest in the history of the Earth and nature. She also grew up during an industrial age where the industrial revolution left the air dirty and the rivers polluted by industrial waste. These periods during her life greatly affected her choice in career later on as well. ‘Silent Spring” was a result of her unrest, and challenge against the government allowing chemicals to be put in the environment. She believed that long term-effects would be a disastrous result of these chemicals, and that the human health would reflect the environment’s ills. Companies that professionalized in the chemical making industries were against her, but she continued to persevere and continue her line of work in bringing awareness to the dangers of these chemicals. Although she died before she could see her work making an impact on the world, it became successful and she was awarded with many honors, medals, and awards. She left us a legacy that not only leaves us with concerns for future generations, but also bringing more awareness and openness to public debate about the risks of our new technologies. This book embodies wonder and humility, as well as giving, ‘…the promise of life’s possibility.”
In America, there are many places that thrive with nature and have an abundance of life in them. Beauty can be appreciated in these places, and they thrive because the ecosystem in these places work together to help preserve and benefit each other in many different ways. However, these places are susceptible to a blight that has the ability to interrupt and destroy the ecosystems in these areas. These places that were once beautiful and thriving has been changed and impacted so negatively that they are no longer recognizable. Disasters occur in places all over the world, and it can come unpredictably while we are unprepared. This book will explain what this blight that has ‘…silenced the voices of spring…”
Throughout the history of Earth, there were longer periods of time in which life didn’t modify its surroundings. Man was the only life that acquired a significant power to alter his surroundings by the present century. This power continues to increase, and it causes the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and the sea. Chemicals also damage the earth and kill life as it enters the soil and works its way through underground streams, through alchemy of air and sunlight and kill many other living organisms along the way. Life used to be shaped by nature, and elements in nature like radiation are no longer natural, but man-made due to man tampering with it. It would take generations for life to adapt to the new chemicals that man introduces to the environment. Some of these chemicals, like insecticides, kill more than just insects, but the surrounding life in the area as well. However, insects continue to adapt to new chemical insecticides made and man continues to create deadlier insecticides to combat this. Man also disrupts the natural checks of natural, including the limit on the amount of suitable habitat for each species. We also introduced foreign insects due to importation and as a result, can leave negative impacts on the land they’re being introduced to. Man has grown accustomed to these chemicals, but we should not tolerate this. These dangerous substances have fallen into the hands of ignorant people before, and these people have exposed these substances to innocent people. The public must be informed of the truth of these chemicals, and what they can really do without sugarcoating the truth.
Every human on Earth has come to contact to dangerous chemicals. It exists almost everywhere, from all bodies of water, underground, inside animals. In many people, it’s stored somewhere in some part of the body. WW2 is a historical cause for these chemicals, due to the different chemicals used and tested on insects during the time as ‘agents of death for man.” With the ability to find and damage vital parts of the body, more deadly chemicals are added every year for all sorts of purposes. Arsenic is a chemical that has been used in the past during the second world war, and is still used today. It has caused death among different livestock, epidemics, human illnesses, and yet it is still widely used today. There’s two major groups that insecticides are grouped into: DDT and organic phosphorus insecticides. They’re built off of carbon atoms, which have been altered and manipulated by scientists to what they are known to be today. DDT was not viewed as a dangerous chemical due to its convenient uses. It can be passed and transferred in so many different ways, from the feces and offspring, to the milk and meat that we may consume. Other chemicals also stem from DDT, including chlordane Aldrin, and dieldrin. There are many other different chemicals that include some that we can be unsure of, and unaware of what dangerous effects that they may cause to us and the environment around us.
Water is a critical component of our society, far important then we happen realize. But with the abundance of it, we tend to take it for granted; blatantly turning a blind eye to how limited it actually is, as a resource. Most of said water is inaccessible due either to the generous amount of salt, or the hefty amounts recyclable and non-recyclable trash that is so often dumped into bodies of water people frequent. However, what is most underestimated, harmful, and considered ‘not a threat” would be the chemicals that could be from household appliances or factories and nuclear plants alike. We use these chemicals in almost everything, including insecticides and weed control. Over the years, there have been constant examples where such chemicals could be proven to be harmful to both flora and fauna, though brushed aside due to either the neglect of looking deeply into something that has visibly proven to be profitable, convenient, useful, or the evidence was not enough to link the two things. As time went on, however, some scientists did look into the cause and effect, discovering that both human and animal had extremely increased risk of disease, or said chemicals itself caused direct death.
Soil is an essential element to support life. It’s nutrients supports all living organisms on this planet, and it is also made from those living organisms as well. She explains how soils plays an important role in the cycle of nature, or ‘the green mantle.” She also explains how the earthworms help aerate and transport soil each year, and how their role impacts the soil as well. She brings up the issue of how pesticides may not just kill the insects that we intend it to kill, but also the good insects that actually benefit the environment around us as well. Pesticides have also been known to interrupt the nitrogen cycle in nitrification, and prey and predator relationships which can lead to upsetting the balance in having a variety of organisms. These pesticides can reside in the soil for long periods of time, and follow with consequences that people are still unaware of.
Humans cannot live without plants, but people continue to underestimate and forget how the preservation of plants is necessary for their own survival. Carson explains the role of plants in this chapter and explains that there can be times where it is reasonable to disrupt plant life, but we must be careful to to do so with careful consideration. People tend to forget this when it comes to pesticides. She uses the attempted eradication and replacement of the sage bush with grasslands in the West as an example of this. She explains the importance of the sage bush in its environment, and how the removal of this plant caused many negative impacts on the ecosystem depending on the plant. Another example is the spraying of New England roadsides, which affected the tourism of the area, as well as the killing of animal and plant life. Carson believes that there are better ways of getting rid of weed problems like introducing a selective plant-eating insect to control the weed growth, and that it would be a much better alternative than spraying.
In this chapter, Carson explains how the greediness of humanity has caused so much unnecessary destruction to different forms of life in nature through the continual use of pesticides without keeping check of the damage it does. She explains how conservationists view the loss of life as detrimental and severe, whereas control agencies believe that the loss of life is not that much of importance, or not important enough to take note of. She believes that, ‘The credibility of the witness is of first importance.” An example of the use of pesticides without taking into consideration of the environment it effects includes Japanese beetles that were first introduced into the US in 1916. States in the northeast were able to handle the invasive species without over spraying, but Midwestern areas like Michigan went all out with excessive spraying of the beatles. Despite people’s complaints and calls of the effects of the spraying, they continued to spray and as a result, bird and animal populations were destroyed along with causing sickness in humans. Officials argued that a bill that included legal limitations was ‘usual” therefore unnecessary although it should have had consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before the spraying. Research for the insecticide research also faded in the 1950s due to a lack of funds. She states that the use of pesticide in the Midwest was done because of a sense of crisis, and that control of the beatles was better taken cared of in the northeast through natural means. Carson brings up a moral question of how humans can continue to destroy the environment around,”…without destroying [life] itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.”
Carson explains how in different areas around the country, birds are being negatively affected by the use of pesticides, and refers to the ‘silence” in ‘Silent Spring.” She details examples of different local accounts of the dying bird populations after spraying the chemicals, which result in the loss of the birds’ color and songs. She uses the example of the robin, a bird species which was affected along with many other bird species due to disease-carrying beetles being sprayed to save the elm trees. Carson also explains economic impacts from unrestrained pesticide use like bird loss to growers of fruit for commercial business. The pesticide may also kill insects or animals that actually help to control other population of insects. Pesticides won’t completely remove particular pests, and she gives the alternative of the removal of the diseased trees. Carson shows how connected all living organisms, insects, birds, mammals, and humans are to each other, and how the use of pesticides affect us all. She also explains how others will make decisions on our behalf, while remaining oblivious of the disastrous effects on the world around them.
Carson explains to us the effects of the pesticides on rivers, using an example with the loss of salmon in the Miramichi River in 1953. In order to get rid of the budworm, the forrest was sprayed which caused death to many different species in it, including the salmon and other fish and bird species. The stream environment was also changed because of the spraying. It will take a long period of time before the insects in the environment will be replenished for the fish. Some Salmon have difficulties finding food to eat as a result of the eradication of some of the insects as well. Even though the river life was altered with many negative consequences, the population of budworms were not completely eradicated. Cason continues explaining how pesticides are not the only way to get rid of insect issues, and it should not just be accepted as well. The effects on the environment leave long impacts that difficult to reverse or even revert. An example is the industrial waste that polluted the waters in Austin, Texas causing fish kill. There are many other unknown effects that we may also be unaware of happening in the world today. We should take into consideration what may occur in the future as well, and be more aware of what’s happening to take action.
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