Will our next spring be silent with no bird song, no wildflowers and no family pets? These are the dire predictions that Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring warned America about if the indiscriminate spraying of DDT continued.
DDT, (chlorinated hydrocarbons) used to kill insects, enters into the food chain of which we are part. Carson referred to DDT and the many other pesticides as “agents of death.” She asserted that one of the most basic human rights is the “right of the citizen to be secure in his own home against the intrusion of poisons applied by other persons.”
In the 1950’s, Dieldrin, used to eradicate fire ants, also killed off quail, turkeys and cows. Dieldrin contaminated the milk produced by local dairies. At that time an investigator asked, “Why were not special precautions taken to protect our children who drank milk from local dairies?” There was no credible answer. The really scary part of Rachel Carson’s book is that fifty years after publication we are still spraying pesticides, creating a web of death.
After the publication of Silent Spring, both the government and pesticide manufacturers followed the standard bureaucratic policy of denial. They stated that spraying DDT was not harmful to people. Their reply to using other control techniques was with unsubstantiated statements that they were too expensive.
On a positive note, Ms. Carson’s book led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged with protecting America from those who would generate “an amazing rain of death” on our land. She has provided inspiration and direction for the environmental movement. Silent Spring is well worth reading or re-reading.