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Rachel Carson and Silent Spring. “If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.”.

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Rachel Carson and Silent Spring


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    1. Rachel Carson and Silent Spring • “If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.”

    2. “Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species – man – acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.” • “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” • “Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”

    3. Rachel Carson Biography • Born, May 27, 1907, Springdale PA • Educated at Pennsylvania Women’s College, Pittsburgh and Johns Hopkins University • Employment at marine Biological Laboratory, Woods hole, MA • Bureau of Fisheries

    4. Carson first focused on DDT in 1957. A friend, living in Duxbury,MA, had complained about a dramatic drop in bird population perhaps due to repeated aerial sprayings.

    5. DDT • Discovered in 1874 by Zeidler • Rediscovered in 1939 by Dr. Paul Müller – Nobel Prize in 1948 • DDT killed flies, aphids, mosquitoes, Colorado potato beetles • Used during WWII to de-louse refugees in Italy • U.S. Army issued 10% DDT in tins to soldiers

    6. 1955 Global Malarial Eradication Campaign • Advocated the widespread use of DDT and anti-malarial drugs to eliminate the parasite in humans • By 1967 malaria was eradicated from all developed countries

    7. Peak use of DDT was in 1962 when 80 million kilograms were used

    8. Significance of Silent Spring • A Modern Classic – Simple yet Powerful; Reflective of the Idea that Disciplinary Boundaries Rarely Exist in the Real World. • The Importance of the Individual in History. • Timing Must Be Right! – Context is Crucial To Understanding this Book. • However – Why Are Environmental Issues Given High Priority in Rhetoric and much Lower Reality in Real Life?

    9. Carson’s Key Points • DDT is Persistent - - Very Stable, Remains in the Environment for a Long Time • DDT Enters the Food Chain and Accumulates • Insect Species Develop Genetic Resistance to DDT • Organic materials from the Environment can Cause Cancer • Biological Rather than Chemical Methods should be Employed When Feasible

    10. Heptaclor

    11. Lindane

    12. “Silent Spring Becomes A Noisy Summer” • Opposition From Chemical Firms – Monsanto and Velsicol; Agricultural Chemical manufacturers Association • Review by William Darby in Chemical and Engineering News, “Silence, Miss Carson” • Opposition from Entomologists at Land Grant Universities • Opposition from those who saw the book as a powerful force in undermining the idea that science and technology mean progress

    13. Carson on CBS Reports, April, 1963 • “It is the public that is being asked to assume risks that the insect controllers calculate. The public mist decide whether it wishes to continue the present road, and it can only do so when in full possession of the facts.”

    14. Victor Yannacone and DDT: Fish Kill at Yaphank Pond • The Rise of Toxic Tort law – 1967: Suit against Suffolk County Mosquito Control Commission • Charles Wurster, Art Cooley, and thin osprey egg shells on Long Island • A joining together to form the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), 1967 • DDT Banned in U.S. in 1971

    15. Context: 1959 Aminotriazole Cranberry Scare

    16. Context: Thalidomide

    17. Frances Kelsey at the FDA

    18. Kelsey – 1962 President’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award

    19. Context – Atomic Testing