Rachel Carson

Topics: Pesticide, Bedbug, DDT Pages: 8 (2901 words) Published: April 22, 2013
ENG 102
22 April 2013
Environmental Issues Today
Rachel Carson had a passionate belief that mankind had launched a personal war on itself inadvertently due to the war it had launched on insects and its insistence of contaminating the air, land and water by doing so. At a rate of more than 500 new chemicals per year, of which 200 from the1940's to the 1960's were pesticides, the public market is flooded with more pesticides than it knows what to do with. More often than not, each new insecticide just happens to be a little stronger than the last, defeating the purpose, and killing off the good insects as well as the bad (Carson par. 5 - 7). Carson's views of the over-usage of pesticides could be fully substantiated if by no other means than that of these three measures.

These chemicals are now universally used on almost every farm and in almost every home across this country. They are “nonselective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the 'good' and the 'bad,' to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, to coat the leaves with a deadly film, and to linger on in the soil.” Sadly enough, the destination of these insecticides are usually only a few annoying bugs among the thousands that exist (Carson par. 7).

Carson believed that chemicals should not be called “insecticides,” but “biocides.” Considering the prefix “bio,” or life, this is understandably so. These chemicals have no discernment of life as has been displayed by numerous reports of wild life and human illnesses due to the mass distribution of such chemicals.

Unfortunately, it is a never ending war that has been declared. With each new chemical and with each new treatment distributed, the insects are actually fighting back by means of immunity to the chemicals. Carson observed that “destructive insects often undergo resurgence.” In other words, each time these bugs are sprayed and those that survive reproduce, their offspring will have developed a resistance to the particular chemical with which they were sprayed. As a result even more insects become prevalent to the farmer or home owner, hence, stronger pesticides must then be formulated, tested, and ultimately marketed to the public in order to kill the new insecticide resistant generation of bugs.

Finally, Carson argues that the real problem is overproduction of crops (par. 11). As she shares her point of view, the idea seems to come across that because of the use of pesticides there is too much during harvest than surplus storage can accommodate. In other words, though insects can be pesky they too have a job in life. In this case, their job is to keep a balance in nature, including a balance in crop production. In the end, not only is there a significant amount of money spent on the production, marketing, and sales of pesticides there is also the expenditure for the processing and storing of the excess food produced because of the lack of balance in nature. While the concept of such a massive surplus of food makes for a great humanities plea, it contains little reality that such an undertaking cannot be attained, nor should it be attempted to be attained at the expense of human or wild life.

Despite the passionate pleas Rachel Carson made to eliminate wide spread use of DDT, great controversy still surrounds the true trauma caused by its distribution. Contrary to Carson's views the use of DDT has indisputably saved the lives of millions – maybe even tens of millions – of lives around the world. (Gladwell par. 3) During World War II DDT it was discovered it reduced thousands of illnesses thousands of Allied soldiers suffered from by reducing – even eliminating – disease transporting misquotes that carried the deadly malaria and typhoid. Other countries, including Brazil and Sardinia, concluded by using DDT the number of malaria cases were reduced from millions to less than 100 infestations. Furthermore it cannot be denied that DDT was the reason malaria...
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