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Analysis of The Main Message in Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

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In Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, she starts off with a tale about a town that is experiencing detrimental affects on their land and plants. A once beautiful and lively town, is now has a deathly overcast overtop. She goes on to explain that the cause was due to the people inhabiting the town, and not any other source. Although this town doesn’t exist, the events that have occurred have occurred throughout mankind. They are true events.

Carson believes that the environment should shape humankind, instead of humankind molding the environment into what we believe it should look like. In her opinion this is where the problem lies, the use of pesticides for example which can result in contamination of natural resources like water. The issue is that everyone uses pesticides, some more than others, without knowing the side effects of using these chemicals. They just know that it will kill whatever target they need, but don’t realize that it is also killing a whole bunch of other organisms in our environment. Caron predicts that we are spiraling out of control and we don’t realize the side effects of our actions when it comes to the effects on the soil, plants, animals life, and could eventually leading to our own downfall as mankind. Carson describes this as a “silent spring”, where there aren’t any plants blooming, no birds singing, and everything is dead or dying. A different Earth as we know it today.

A big issue is dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane, also known as DDT. This was the first pesticide that humans manufactured, saw how great it did its job, and eventually began to abuse the product. Initially humans saw how beneficial this product could be, but didn’t realize or care how it may affect us in the long run. This tilted the scales in human’s favor, when it came to the balancing act of the environment or earth and human beings. Instead of letting the environment mold human beings. This is the first example of what Carson refers to as a “biocide”, which is a substance that humans manufacture and use, and believe they benefit from riding of these unwanted pests. When the humans don’t really understand the extent to which their product could be having positive or negative effects on the habitat and the future.

Due to the lack of knowledge on the subject, Carson also believes that any product that humans use, we should have the proper research and knowledge before using the pesticide. DDT was thought to only target pests, which was a benefit for humans. When really it created problems down the road, which affected the habitat as a whole and also mankind. Humans were doing harm to themselves. For example, humans soon realized that DDT was being released into water sources such as streams, which would eventually end up in farmers’ soil. This soil was also where the farmers were growing crops and plants that were used to nourish our bodies. With further research, we soon realized that DDT could be in our tissues, affecting our muscles and could lead to problems with memory.

Carson also goes into detail, how the lack of education led to the eventual discovery that the chemicals actually do more harm to us humans. They can cause cancer, which can be passed down from generation to generation. Some cases have shown that the people that handled pesticides daily could develop seizures, and in some rare cases ultimately death. These chemicals that we manufactured to rid of unwanted pests, are now killing the human population.

The underlying message throughout Carson’s, Silent Spring, was the need for education and further research on these chemicals before we use them erratically. If we were able to manufacture a more selective product for just the unwanted pests, it would be beneficial. This is also seen in medicine, when it comes to mega bugs or pathogens. When we overuse a certain drug on a host of bacteria, they can build a immune response that makes them tolerant to the drug. This can also be seen when it comes to pesticides and tolerant pests to these drugs. The use of pesticides has to be carefully monitored. Also, another point was made that the earth was made a certain way for a reason. There are predators for almost every bug or animal in an ecosystem, and us humans are the top predator who dictates every organisms fate including our own. Interfering the ecosystem with pesticides or chemicals, can be hazardous without the proper precautions. Why not let nature run its own course? Carson isn’t against the use of pesticides, she believes that there needs to be reform. 

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