Silent Spring

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Ab Uno Disce Omnes – From One, Learn All

Kevin Bian
9/21/11 Pd. 7
Ferguson

Nature has been both the bane and the influence of countless generations of humans. In the decades following WWII, pesticides were widely used and were hailed as the solution against pests of all types. However, the shocking effects of pesticides were mostly unknown amongst the general public until the publication of Silent Spring, which is widely believed to have launched the environmental movement. In the excerpt from the book Silent Spring by Rachael Carson, Carson makes a powerful and compelling argument against the use of poisonous pesticides.

The author laments that the farmer’s expedient solution to their pest problem causes indiscriminate death. As a result of the farmer's indifference towards the detrimental effects of pesticide, they continue to wage “their needless war” with nature. Rather than switch to a variety of corn with “deep-set ears not accessible to the birds,” they instead choose to take the easy way out of “killing by poison.” Their grim determination to render the world “sterile” of pests culminates in their decision to send “planes on their mission of death” to bomb the wildlife into submission, with no regard for collateral damage. To further emphasize the troubling impact of the spraying, Carson also provides a casualty of the victims; about 65,000 “blackbirds and starlings,” and notes that the poison also killed “countless” rabbits, raccoons, and opossums who although may not have been a grievance, were ultimately “doomed” for standing in the crossfire between man and his lust for profit. Using an extended allusion between warfare and poison application, Carson reveals the brutality and carelessness of using parathion to control pests.

Carson gives an example of broader consequences and also asks a series of troubling questions meant to prompt the reader to wonder about the effect of agricultural spraying on humans and how a problem like this could...
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