Monday, May 10, 2010

Rachel Carson: Soil's Importance to the World

By Dave Ragazzo

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is one of the most well respected environmental books to be written in recent memory. She brings up many valid points about the environment and wildlife around the world, but the one thing that stuck in my head was Chapter Five “Realms of the Soil.” In this chapter, she discusses the importance of soil on the environment, and the reason that this caught my eye was because I never thought of soil being all that important to life on Earth. Her points are well supported, and she taught me a great deal in this book, especially in this chapter.

She begins by talking about life in the soil. There are certain life forms that are formed in the soil, and now there are different forms of life that now exist within it. One interesting point that I got from this was that without life in the soil, soil would not be able to do what it does. Soil is necessary so plants can grow in it. If there were no other living organisms in the soil, it would not be able to support the earth’s “green mantle.” If the soil was dead, we would not have flowers and other plants, and the world’s cycle would be in disarray. There would be certain animals that would not be around because they would have nothing to eat, and the whole food chain would be disturbed because the soil would not be doing what it is meant to do.

Another point I found interesting was that soil exists in a state of constant change. I did not know this because I take the ground and soil that I walk on for granted. I do not realize that below the surface, things are always changing. For example, rocks combust and disintegrate and matter beneath the surface decays into the soil. Also, when it rains, nitrogen and other gases are brought down from the sky. This gives the ground certain nutrients that it also needs to live. Important chemical change is always in progress, and without this chemical change, again plants would be the most affected forms of life. The main point of the chapter is that soil must be kept safe, but unfortunately that doesn’t always happen.

One of the biggest problems that the soil sees is when poisonous chemicals come down through it. This is one issue that gains little attention, but is a serious issue because it can affect the life forms that call the soil home. There are different ways that chemicals can enter the soil. It can first be introduced directly as soil “sterilants,” and the other way it can be poisoned is from rain that comes down from leaves of trees. There have been cases where the leaves contain contaminants, and then when the rain comes down, the soil sees the same lethal chemicals. Carson argues that this is arguably one of the biggest environmental issues, and yet still gets ignored by scientists around the world.

In conclusion, the soil is one of the most important things to life on Earth. Without soil, it is possible that life could not be possible. It would drastically change our food chain, and if life on Earth were to be possible, we would have to find different ways to go about things. The soil is one of the most important elements on this planet, and needs to be treated with respect. Unfortunately, it does not always get that treatment, and that can be a serious problem.

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