Carson did not want to write Silent Spring. True, she was painfully aware of the indiscriminate use of pesticides, and had proposed articles on the problem to the magazines that she was writing for, as far back as the late 1940s, but Silent Spring was in many ways not her kind of project. In her great sea trilogy, Under the Sea Wind, The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea, a singular voice emerges, at once rigorous and lyrical, a voice she had come to know as her own. It was not, in so many ways, the right voice for a "crusading" book on DDT.In raising her voice, Rachel Carson was able to give voice to the Spring, as well. May we continue to keep her legacy alive (so we can keep our planet alive).
By 1957, however, the pesticide problem was totally out of hand, and as an attempt to prevent an infestation of gypsy moths in the city of New York clearly demonstrated, "The gypsy moth," Carson wrote,
"is a forest insect, certainly not an inhabitant of cities. Nor does it live in meadows, cultivated fields, gardens or marshes. Nevertheless, the planes hired by the United States Department of Agriculture and the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets showered down the prescribed DDT-in-fuel-oil with impartiality. They sprayed gardens and dairy farms, fishponds and salt marshes. They sprayed the quarter-acre lots of suburbia, drenching a housewife making a desperate effort to cover her garden before the roaring plane reached her, and showered insecticide over children at play and commuters at railway stations. At Setauket a fine quarter horse drank from a trough in a field which the planes had sprayed: ten hours later it was dead."
This was probably the single event that most influenced Carson to embark properly on Silent Spring. "There would be no peace for me," she said, "if I kept silent."
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
The Legacy of Silent Spring.