Rachael Carson Environmental Revolution

Rachel Carson thrill is a writing on the resilience and strength of the natural systems. Her books The Edge of the Sea, Under the Sea Wind, Silent Spring, and The Sea Around Us, that remained New in the York Times' best-seller list for a record of  86 weeks, remained hymns to every living thing and nature interconnectedness. Carson developed an intricate line between a scientist and a literature writer. For example, he never adopted many scientific terms, such as ecological in her writing. She developed a web-like poetic language that webbed seabirds, mollusks and fishes.

DDT is considered the most powerful pesticide ever manufactured. It is the only chemical that exposes nature's vulnerability within a short period of time. Unlike most pesticides, whose function are specific to a number of insects, DDT can wipe an entire field with different pesticide on one spray. While it was developed in 1939, its first application was during World War II (1945) when it was used to clear South Pacific Island’s insect causing malaria-causing to the U.S. troops. In Europe, it was first adopted as delousing powder.

When DDT was introduced to the public in 1945, only a few people expressed doubts about the miracle compound. Edwin Way Teale was one people who doubted the chemical commented that DDT can upset nature economy and stability. Teale was also concerned with fact that DDT would wipe all kinds of insects including the useful ones.  Carson, also voiced her concern through Reader's Digest proposing an evaluation of the chemical that was being used in Maryland. Teale and Carson’s views were rejected.

Amid the growth of industrialization and the revolution of the capitalists, the once American environment vibrant with life went silent. There was silence on the earth surface, in the rivers, in the atmosphere, and under the oceans. Anthropogenic factors took toll of American life, just as soon as the DDT products were discovered. Many scientists documented the changing American biosphere, submitted their researches to authors and forgot them. It took the willpower of a biologist woman, Rachael Carson to change the world. Carson’s actions soon transpired to be the historic biospheres rescue from the irrational use of pesticides (Carson 9). Carson did not only grapple with painful fact-finding missions, but she also fought multibillion pesticide manufacturers to restore the American biosphere .Her fight, in the end, saved the whole world, as the giant manufacturers marketed their products overseas. Carson’s fight became the birth of the green revolution.

Carson brought the irrational pesticide spray to the national notice through synthesized dramatic reporting, scientific data collection and analysis, and constant consultation with the locals on the nature of DDT, their composition, the short and long-term effects. She was categorical on the harmful pesticide and was never against all the pesticides. Her reports awaked a stringent fight back from the chemical manufacturers and other scientific bodies in equal proportion (Carson 164). However, her skillful reporting helped in influencing Americans. The Silent Spring wildly sold and changed the world.

DDT insecticide was designed during the WW II to manage troops of pests which were associated with many human diseases and invading crops. Of interest during the pesticide manufacturing were lice and mosquitoes. DDT was invented by Paul Hermann Muller, a chemist who later would be awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physiology Medicine. However, DDT turned out to be the most dangerous pesticide ever invented. Before its acceptance, no environmental impact research was conducted on chemical. Owing to its success, it became the miracle pesticide used across the world. Attention on the impact of DDT only started when animals mysteriously started to die.

While environmentalist recommend the use of biodegradable chemicals, DDT does not break down into harmless chemical elements, the dangerous compounds was non-biodegradable and would be passed through the animals food chain (Graham 15). DDT is fat soluble compound, after it was sprayed on the animal’s food, they ingested the chemical and stored it in their fat. The ingestion and accumulation continued to toxic levels, some animal died. Owing to its non-biodegradable nature, DDT passed through the food chain, and the number of animals in the chain increases. Carson illustrate the food chain starting with the insects. When DDT was sprayed on the fields, the insects that it was intended to harm ingested the chemical compound. Along the food chain, the insects were eaten bigger insects, the bigger insects were food to song birds, and the song birds were preyed upon by the birds of prey.

Carson provide a classical DDT impact at the California's Clear Lake in 1957. The case present a harmful food chain toxicity.  California's Clear Lake during lake water only had a concentration of .02 DDT parts-per-millions. However, the smaller fishes had up to 2,000 parts-per-million while birds that preyed on the fish presented higher DDT concentrations (Graham 15). Suddenly, the bird population was decreasing. On the other hand, people came across dead fingerlings on the river banks. While it was not established early in advance, it was later determined that DDT the culprit.  

Carson document that DDT did not kill the adult raptors, but it stopped their population growth. The chemical would weaken the birds’ egg shells, causing them to break. Since some of the adults were naturally dying, the bird population was first decreasing. DDT was quickly eliminating the bird population. Deaths of animals were monitored in the field, homesteads and in the rivers (Carson 66). The fact that the deaths were widespread made it is easy for the writer to collect the data. Carson dedicate her time to inform the world and mobilize various groups to fight the environmental menace.

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring despite its sensation was immediately criticism from pesticide companies and farmers. This would be referred to as the “Noisy Summer” (Henricksson 71). Farmers and companies thought a ban on DDT would lead to more destruction of property and loss in businesses.  John F. Kennedy was among the top leaders who were moved by Silent Spring. Upon reading the material, the president asked the Science Advisory Committee to dig into Carson’s issue. The committee findings became the turning point of the battle against pesticides. The committee appreciated the use of the chemical, however, they were concerned with its indiscriminate application. They concurred with the Carson that DDT was harming the environment. The committee as well endorsed Carson’s position after acknowledging its accuracy in data collection (Henricksson 80). In 1963, the committee report was published and Rachel Carson received a huge government support. It was at this point when environmental movement was galvanized. Between 1962 and 1980, a paradigm shift resulted to. Environmental laws came into place and attempts to ban DDT started. In 1967, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) commenced a journey to ban DDT in America. This was prompted by Caron’s report in Silent Spring of reduced bird population.

Only 10 years after Carson published the Silent Spring, the United Stated banned DDT in 1972. However, Rachel Carson, never saw the triumph following its death in 1964. 1970s show a momentous environmental movement changes. In 1970, a new environmental body was born: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Nixon. EPA is part of Carson’s call for the government to have an environmental representative (Henricksson 80). EPA was enacted to safeguard the United States environmental policy enforcing Congress laws. To date, EPA recognizes Carson’s contributions.

The Silent Spring also led to the birth of the National Environmental Policy Act. The 1969 Act was charged with environmental impact assessment of any governmental project. A year later, Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed the Earth Day and which was commenced on April 22, 1970. By 1976, Clean Water Act, The Clean Air Act, and Toxic Substances Control Act were passed. The Acts are aimed at protecting the environment. Carson’s environmental revolution reverberates in any societal sectors, it hold a special place in the political arena and the national economy. Further implication of Carson revolution was felt in 1996 when President Clinton proposed and enacted The Food Quality Act; the body charges EPA with the responsibility of reviewing the impact of pesticides. At one point, Vice President AL Gore recommended Rachel Carson work as “An Inconvenient Truth” (Henricksson 80). Carson’s view on nature revolutionized the environmental war.

DDT initially was considered a cheap and efficient miracle pesticide. Its environmental impacts were unknown and the people who raised concerns were dismisses. Rachel Carson started his campaign through articles in the Readers’ Digest, but would be reject. It was her books and finally the Silent Spring that turned the world view into the impact of DDT. After the publication of the Silent Spring, the government descended on the in discrete manufacturing and use of DDT products, a ban followed. Over spraying of huge American lands stopped and life was restored. Carson’s efforts became the foundation of controlled pesticide control, which is a core value of green movement. DDT should remain banned owing to is unselective killing and long term environmental impact. As noted, some insects are important to human being, such as during pollination.

Works Cited

Carson, Rachael. Silent Spring. 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003: Houghton Mifflin. 1962. Print.

Graham, Frank. Fifty years after silent spring, attacks on science continue. Yale Environment 360. Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 2012.

Henrickson, John. Rachel Carson, the environmental movement (New Directions). New York: Millbrook Press, 2012.