|1947 brochure, US Dept. of Agriculture|
By Daniel Mercurio
Silent Spring’s author Rachel Carson once stated, “In nature nothing exists alone.” This statement is important because it relates to the checks and balances system applied by the natural environment, which serves to keep the populations of different species in check through the use of both biotic and abiotic factors. However, mankind has altered this delicate balance by inventing insecticides that are used to control populations of insects that humans consider pests.
As insects developed immunity to the insecticides, their populations exploded, posing more than a nuisance to people. It has also led certain insects to develop harmful adaptations and become immune to the chemicals found within these sprays. If people continue to associate the fact that humans are the dominant species with the notion that their all-powerful actions have no consequences, then there will be more negative environmental impacts as the natural system of checks and balances will break down.
I believe humans need to realize that there are limitations to their actions and that all species have a right to survive since the creator of the earth intended for all the inhabitants of the planet to live in balance and to appropriately use the resources that our planet provides.
Clearly, many people need to change their attitudes and actions if they are to satisfy nature’s system of checks and balances. In order to promote the shift, people must be educated about the consequences concerning the use of insecticides. There must also be enforcement through the implementation of environmental regulations that prohibit the use of these chemical agents. This would create an environmental movement as more and more people would feel compelled to invest in more environmentally friendly alternatives.
Moreover, the shift would be complemented by the fact that scientists have already begun to develop alternatives to the harmful insecticides currently being used. In fact, an excerpt from Silent Spring highlights some of the progress scientists have made toward finding solutions.
“A truly extraordinary variety of alternatives to the chemical control of insects is available,” Rachel Carson wrote. “Some are already in use and have achieved brilliant success. Others are in the stage of laboratory testing. Still others are little more than ideas in the minds of imaginative scientists waiting for the opportunity to put them to the test. All have this in common: they are biological solutions, based on an understanding of the living organisms they seek to control, and of the whole fabric of life to which these organisms belong. Specialists representing various areas of the vast field of biology are contributing – entomologists, pathologists, geneticists, physiologists, biochemists, ecologists – all pouring their knowledge and their creative inspirations into the formation of a new science of biotic controls.”