Silent Spring - The Beginning of Environmental Awareness

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Man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himsel

                                                                                                               -Rachel Carson

Silent Spring” is one of those books, which has substantially altered the course of history in the context of Environment. Will our next spring be silent with no birdsong, no wildflowers and no family pets, were the terrible predictions that Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring warned about if the indiscriminate use of chemicals continued.

Rachel Carson, a biologist, and an exceptional writer, forces the reader to think towards the misuse of chemicals, which have never been clinically tested. Silent Spring contains a lot of scientific information which is factual in a clear and understandable way, and it informs us of our activities and choices that put the whole humankind as well as nature at risk. This book elaborates a view of nature compromised by synthetic chemical pesticides predominantly DDT.

Once DDT pesticides enter the ecosystem, they not only kill the bugs but also make their way up the food chain to menace birds, small animals, and aquatic population and could eventually sicken our upcoming generations. The book describes that the war is between humans and other members of nature, which brings guaranteed damage and unpredicted outcome. Chemical pesticide and herbicides not only intend to target pests and weeds but also other sources like water, soil, plant, animals and humans as well.

The author pens down the effects of widespread use of pesticide that took place over millions of acres of agricultural land to limit the growth of insects but at the end, insects just came back in greater numbers as they adapted quickly to the poisons, but damage to plants, animals, and humans was long lasting and fatal. The author was not against killing insects that carry infection and disease, but the practice of killing off everything else at the same time.

It is an immensely powerful book, which has the potential to change your personal outlook towards the world. It helped to give rise to the environmental movement and changed the US and international environmental policies. The author knew it would be controversial but she wanted to enlighten public about the ugly facts of chemical pesticides. Carson's book changed the mind set of many individuals toward environment and motivated many to take action.

After the release of the book, people and environmental activists pushed the government to regulate the use of chemical pesticides. Thus, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in 1970 in the USA in response to the emerging demand for clean air, water and land.

In Silent Spring, no alarmist language is used but facts covered in this book are concerning. The book was written fifty years ago, but the same risk to humanity continues till date when we could find better ways of solving problems, cautious ways of using chemicals and restricting their use in sensible ways. The book made a very valid point that if we poison nature, nature would in turn poison us.

Author: Sulogna Chatterjee, DST-Inspire Fellow and PhD Scholar. Bioengineering and Environmental Sciences Lab, EEFF Centre, CSIR-IICT.

Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator
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