Thursday, April 11, 2013

Silent Spring: We Are the World

By Jaimie Moscarello

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Matthew 7:12

The lesson I learned from Rachel Carson’s 1962 environmental masterpiece, Silent Spring, is that people hurt the Earth and then Earth turned against us. If we treat the Earth well, it will be a better place for us to live.

When we pollute the world with toxic chemicals, how can we not expect it to do something to turn against us? 

In her book, Carson shocks her readers about the horrible misuse of chemicals and their destruction of the Earth, starting with “A Fable for Tomorrow,” where Carson describes the beautiful Earth.

“Then a strange blight crept over the area
and everything began to change. Some evil
spell had settled on the community…”.

In Carson’s fable, an evil witch doesn’t cast the evil spell; the evil spell is us -- the people trying to take control over Mother Nature. Ultimately, Mother Nature will show her reign us.

In Silent Spring, Carson explains that when colorless, tasteless, almost odorless DDT is stored in the human body, the smallest amount of the chemical grows inside in body fat and causes cancer. Because of Carson’s groundbreaking book, DDT, most powerful pesticide known to the world, was banned in the United States.

If Silent Spring could make a comeback to spark more concern among people, there is no doubt in my mind that many more toxic chemicals would be banned.

Another piece of Carson’s writing that stuck with me was how intertwined all of Earth is.  The chemicals used to get rid of small bugs ends up infecting the air, water systems, soil, and moves up the entire food chain to harm people. It isn’t just that Carson gave us facts; her writing skills truly make us understand just how horrible these chemicals are, and how quickly or slowly they move and how damaging they are to the health of so many living things.

Carson writes about how much money people spent-- $750,000,000 to be exact-- to kill “pests” and how the government spent even more for public land. Meanwhile, these “treatments” simply just harmed Earth.

It is worrisome that people and governments have the ability to hurt Earth so much. It’s even more worrisome that we use chemicals to make plants grow, when it actuality we’re killing so much more, ourselves included.

Chapter 15 in Silent Spring, “Nature Fights Back,” stood out to me most. People spent so much energy and time trying to get rid of insects and small pests. They end up getting rid of so much more than what they were aiming for.

Rachel Carson’s book shows how one person’s efforts can create an entire movement. Without Silent Spring, what would our world be like now? Would we have forests, birds, other animals, grass, or food? Would people still be alive?  By now, DDT would have infected and damaged so much more than it already did.

There isn’t a single person who can live on a chemical filled Earth, just as there isn’t a single person who should not read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

We must do unto Earth, as we would have Earth do unto us.

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