Thursday, April 7, 2016
A Planet In Trouble: Silent Spring Revisited
By Melissa Erdelyi
In 1962, Rachel Carson published her environmental science book Silent Spring. Carson’s book portrayed a future world that had been overtaken by pesticides, or biocides as she refers to them. In this world, the birds no longer sing.
In the first chapter, Carson warns her readers about the dangers of DDT, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemical use in the environment. A town is portrayed, a happy town, that lived in peace with the nature around it. The small town had been made famous due to its beauty. People came from all around to see the town’s majestic atmosphere and bask in the nature.
Then, everything began to disappear. Farm animals became ill, stopped reproducing, and died. Even the residents, old and young, became deathly ill without explanation. No visitors came any longer, as there was no greenery to enjoy and the fish that had once lived in the streams also passed.
All of this death and destruction had been brought upon the people by themselves.
As disastrous as this story is, the town is not real. However, the fate of the town is very possible.
While this chapter is simply a short precursor of what is to come in the following chapters, it’s impact on the reader’s mindset is monstrous. The chapter sets the scene for the remainder of the book.
The chapter foreshadows what is soon to come, both in the book and possibly in the world. We see the poisoning of animals, people who eat these animals and pass away from the chemicals that they had infected them with, and the animals begin to adapt to these infections and begin to survive.
While the first chapter is fiction, Carson did her research before writing this expose. The happenings throughout, while they may have been “made up” are very much possible, and even happening today. For example, we see the fish in the Passaic River inedible due to toxins placed in the river years ago. This is a similar reality compared to the fiction world we see in the book.
In the closing of the opening chapter, Carson poses the question “what has already silenced the voices of spring in countless towns in America?” She credits her book as “an attempt to explain.”
Writing this now, I am sitting in my room with an open window. It’s a pretty windy day, so I can hear the rustling of the trees in the wind outside. Every few minutes I’ll hear a bird chirp.
When I close my window, I hear nothing of the outside world. This makes it easy to imagine what Carson is describing. This death and destruction was caused by human’s interaction with nature. While we interact with nature in order to survive, no pesticides and chemicals should be used in order to make out lives easier, as it will just end up being the downfall of humans.