Silent Springs by Rachel Carson
According to the Silent Springs thesis, organisms that include birds, human beings and animals are dying because modern pesticides are being used without restrictions. The emphasis of this thesis is that silent spring was caused by pesticides’ use without proper precaution which destroyed every organism. The population poisoned itself slowly by misusing pesticides. Using pesticides in this manner leads to the death of not just the pest that is targeted by the pesticides but also the essential organisms.
The aim of giving this thesis this title was to remind readers about the nature of a spring that was there before the introduction of pesticides. This title was aimed at making people envision a silent spring without birds’ sounds since all birds have been eliminated by the used pesticides. The poem, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” by John Keats inspired this title. There was a line in this poem stating that sedge was withering in the lake and that there were no birds singing.
Carson stated clearly that she is not an advocate of the prohibition of pesticides. Instead, she advocates for proper and responsible handling and use of pesticides. People should be informed about the effects that pesticides have on their environment. Using different case studies, she explained how chemical pesticides affect the environment negatively. She also gives instances where organisms have been hurt by chemicals when handled poorly.
These problems happened because the country focused more on economic growth as well as the benefits of increased agricultural production without paying attention to the negative effects that are likely to occur.
Pesticides refer to chemical or biological substances that repel, control or kill some plant or animal life that hurt the needed organism. There are two major categories of the pesticides that humans use in controlling pests. These are organic and synthetic pesticides. Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloror-ethane (DDT) is among the popular synthetic pesticides. This belongs to a category of chemicals that are called chlorinated hydrocarbons. Despite being extremely dangerous, it is used to kill insects and its effects are not realized immediately. It has lasting effects because it moves through the food chains.
This implies that once used, it can affect organisms that it was not sprayed on directly. Dieldrin, aldrin, chloridane, heptachlor and endrin are other types of the commonly used synthetic pesticides. Organic pesticides include malathion, parathion and arsenic. In the Silent Springs thesis, Carson describes the chemical poisons used by most farmers and households in killing insects. During the time when Carson wrote this thesis, DDT was a common non-organic pesticide in use.
Once a DDT pesticide has been introduced in the environment, the movement and persistence of this pesticide determine the level of harm that it will cause on other organisms that the user was not targeting. Majority of the used pesticides are not degradable. As such, they penetrate the soil after dissolving in water after which they harm the organisms that they get into contact with. Aquatic organisms and those living within the soil are affected the most. Many people believed that DDT was harmless because in the power form in which it was used, its effects are not instant. Nevertheless, essential enzymes within the animal bodies are inhibited by the active ingredient in DDT. The accumulation of this pesticide in the body causes adverse effects which eventually are transferred via the animals’ food chains.
DDT is also capable of moving across the placenta’s wall to affect the unborn children or animals after the parents get in contact with it. It affects vertebrates as well since they mostly feed on worms. High quantities of DDT were used to spray trees. Earthworms ate and mulched leaves that fell with this chemical. Birds fed on these warms and therefore they acquired the chemical. There were also birds which ate insects on trees which already had the chemical. Most farmers use insecticides in their farms and these affect fish in their ponds. This is because the chemicals are washed from the trees by rains and deposited in the ponds and other water bodies by the surface runoff.
Humans are also affected by these chemicals. Most people working in the field were affected by DDT. Cancer was one of the effects of DDT in both adults and children. Humans absorb these chemicals through the skin. Rachel Carson conducted extensive research in ecology before writing this thesis. Her thesis introduced the basic ecological concepts in America. Exactly how did the failure to note this interrelatedness led to different problems that Carson highlighted? How was the control programs’ effectiveness limited by this interrelatedness or how did it render them counter-productive?
In the last chapter, “The other road” Carson provides the alternatives that people can use in saving organisms from chemical pesticides. The best alternatives that Carson suggests are biological controls. This is because using biological controls is easy. They are also safe to humans and animals, effective and cheap. Biological controls work within the natural rules. They have no interference with the target insects’ predators. Additionally, they do not affect the environment and habitat of their target insects. There are also biological controls that are able to sterilize insects.
Inspiration that is similar to what Carson provides in her thesis is very important in the contemporary world. With the current technological advancement, people are just using pesticides without considering their effects on them and the environment. Cancer is a disease that is affecting adults and children. Build-up of chemicals in the body might be one of the causes of cancer in the contemporary society yet people are using chemicals uncontrollably.
Biological controls were commonly used in the past but these were gradually abandoned when chemical methods emerged. This is because people wanted to find out if they were effective. Almost the entire population is now using chemical methods and this is becoming problematic. This is because even with the risks that these chemicals pose, people still use them and using biological pest control methods seems difficult to most people.
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