Saturday, April 30, 2016

Silent Spring: Intriguing Spring Break Read

By Larissa Ledo

In Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, read over spring break, the chapter that caught my attention the most was chapter nine, “Rivers of Death.”  Silent Spring is an environmental science book that documents the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds.

As I read the book, when I reached chapter nine the name of the chapter itself caught my attention, which made the read easier and more interesting. In that chapter Rachel Carson paints a complete picture of the salmon cycle of the Miramichi River of New Brunswick. In 1954 the Canadian government sprayed the forests with DDT for the spruce budworm to save the trees. The spray fallout included dead salmon in the river within two days, and dead birds as well. This solution is only temporary so respraying is always needed. 

Nature intervened to save the salmon and Miramichi River with Hurricane Edna. It all turned out well because there was only spraying affecting that part of the river for only a year. In late 1950’s the US Forest Service allowed spraying in Yellowstone Park. There were dead salmon all along the shore with DDT in their tissues. Sometimes they did not die immediately which meant fishermen were exposed to the poison. 

Throughout the chapter she goes on about alternative methods of forest management, including natural parasitism and microorganisms. Carson explains disasters many fish suffer such as agricultural run off and salt marsh spraying.

The big fish kill on the Colorado River in Texas in 1961 was also a topic. Hundreds of miles downstream from a chemical plant leak in Austin, 27 species of fish died and the fish population was altered for years.

The whole book was fascinating, filled with so much information and written in a way making it so interesting to read. However, for me, “Rivers of Death” was the most interesting and with a title that can catch anyone’s attention, which makes the reader a lot more intrigued to read.

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