Thursday, April 11, 2013

Discovering Rachel Carson’s "Silent Spring"

By Steven Aliano

The book that started it all, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is a feverish work, which delivered the sting to the major corporations that make pesticide chemicals. When one talks of environmental issues and concerns, this book should and will come up in conversation. It not only launched the modern movement that we see stronger and stronger every day in the current world, but stirred up major controversy for its dramatic teachings from others in authoritative positions. 

Carson posed the obvious statement that when a man-made creation is introduced into nature, there is a detrimental outcome with its side effects and repetitive usage. In addition, nature and the world itself, works in a cycle, and when man tries to exterminate one species, others will be affected as well. This, back in the 1960’s, seemed to be a surprise to many, or at least how it was presented in the tone of Carson’s writings.

Due to my inexperience with the whole of environmental issues, this book was very startling. I had a very slim knowledge of DDT, but this book brought it all into focus for me, along with the many other chemicals mentioned. I also am worried that these issues are still around today. Again, this is due to my uneducated grasp of environmental concerns, but this beginner’s guide to pesticide contamination, so to speak, lead me to a desire to read up on this problem. It almost made me consider checking out some of the spray bottles in my garage for what chemicals lie in them, as the suburban upbringing and lifestyle probably is a place where most of the damage is done.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I liked how each chapter described one key aspect of nature that was being affected, from the soil to the birds. The book also is written in a very “layman’s terms” way where anyone could pick up the book and understand what Carson is saying. Especially is this true when she describes the chemicals and goes into the chemistry and overall science of it. Once I saw the diagrams of the different elements on one of the pages, I thought to myself, “uh oh.” However, Carson described the science of the chemicals so that it wouldn’t go over everyone’s head. I was appreciative of this, as I would assume she would want her audience to be as big as possible when she began writing this book.

Moreover, her approach to tackling one issue after another in the succeeding chapters was delivered as one punch after another, and it flowed effortlessly. As one issue lead to another, she then gave an overview of the issue and handle it accordingly. It definitely made me feel that she had a lot of confidence in what she’s saying, but also a lot of energy and desire to say it, which is also important.    

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