By Richard Fetzer
“No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves.”
Above is a chilling conclusion that Rachel Carson uses to instantly capture her reader’s attention while giving a description of the death of a small town in the first chapter of her book Silent Spring. The chapter entitled “A Fable for Tomorrow” spoke to me, deeply. It describes the transformation of this hypothetical town from thriving as a part of a lush and striving natural ecosystem, to a stark and depressed wasteland. Again this is a hypothetical town, but all the she describes has occurred.
As Carson wrote, “This town does not actually exist, but it might easily have a thousand counterparts in America or elsewhere in the world. I know of no community that has experienced all the misfortunes I describe. Yet every one of these disasters has actually happened somewhere, and many real communities have already suffered a substantial number of them. A grim specter has crept upon us almost unnoticed, and this imagined tragedy may easily become a stark reality we all shall know.”
Carson’s work was published in the 1960’s, but its lessons stand true today. The chemicals that we use in our environment eventually find their way into our own bodies. It is a terrifying fact, but it needs to be understood in order for people to will a great change that is long needed in the United States and everywhere in the world.
What really speaks to me about Carson’s work, besides the flawless logic backed with scientific facts, is her ability to take complicated facts and figures, and make them understandable to people of every background. I am in no way a science or math person. Sometimes I find myself having difficultly with even the simplest mathematical facts, but still I understood the magnitude of what Carson was saying.
Carlson covers all aspects of the pesticide issue in this way. She starts with the basics and history of the pesticides being used. She then goes into every way that the Earth is affected including human and animal life, the soil, air and water.
Overall, Carlson gives a complete and compelling explanation of pesticides and the chemicals that they are made up of. She explains the negative effects that these toxins have on the environment, as well as human and animal life. It is a book that everyone should pick up and experience.