Mark lytle, historian: Americans were actually healthier and the death rate went down during World War ii even if you include soldiers in the equation. And so people considered this a real triumph of human ingenuity over the old pestilences of, of nature that had made life nasty, brutish, and short. Deborah Blum, Science Writer: so people just went, wow. We have this incredibly potent compound, doesnt cause any harm to anything but bugs. Well just use it everywhere. Archival: I consider this amazing chemical the most valuable contribution of our wartime medical research program for the future health and welfare not only of this nation, but of the entire world.
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Theres evidence of fish kill or bird kill and they see that and like any expert they publish it in a place where other experts will read. But how that information english then filters out to a larger public is a very big question. William souder, biographer: Carson understood the implications of this. She wanted to write a story warning people that, we need to be a little bit careful with this. This looks like its a great thing but we maybe need to be cautious in how we use it, how much of it we use. Linda lear, biographer: But readers Digest doesn't want this article. They essentially say, oh, housewives would be just turned off by this. They wouldnt wanna know about this terrible stuff. Archival: The victory flash electrified Times Square keyed to the bursting point as the magic word of complete surrender came through. Narrator: Just weeks later, the war in the pacific finally was won, and credit for the victory went to the twin weapons of modern science: the atomic bomb and the so-called "insect bomb ddt.
Meanwhile, in the tropical Pacific theater where more soldiers had been sidelined by malaria than by gunshot wounds entire islands were saturated with ddt. Mark lytle, historian: General douglas MacArthur once said that in war an Army commander had three divisions, one paper in the front fighting, one in reserve, and one in the rear being refitted. He said, i have one in the front, one in reserve, and one in the hospital because of malaria. But with ddt that problem diminished substantially. It was considered to be a miracle substance in that it saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Narrator: by the middle of 1944, time magazine had pronounced ddt one of the great scientific discoveries of World War. To reader's Digest, rachel Carson was offering a new angle a piece exploring ddt's potential to cause collateral damage to wildlife. Naomi Oreskes, historian: biologists for the fish and Wildlife service begin to see pretty quickly that when ddt is used in certain areas theres evidence of problems.
Its crowded population lacked almost everything for the safeguarding of public health. The perfect set-up for epidemic. David Kinkela, historian: Naples is really a city under siege. And typhus spreads quickly under those kinds of conditions. So they set up spray stations in the cities, spraying thousands of people a day with about hand sprayers people who wanted to get sprayed, people who didnt wanna get sprayed, children, elderly. Archival: Next, the 40,000 Italians dwelling in the jam-packed air word raid shelters were deloused. Narrator: In all, more than a million people were dusted with ddt, and the epidemic was stopped in its tracks. Neapolitans the new York times reported, "are now throwing ddt at brides instead of rice.
Archival: Absorbed through the feet or other parts of the body, ddt effects the nervous system and motor coordination of the insect. Several hours elapse before symptoms develop; then in sequence follows restlessness, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and death. Deborah Blum, Science Writer: Farmers have been doing war with insects and other pests for a long time and they had been using what we think of now as almost obviously homicidal poisons to do that. But for the first time we have a sort of new generation pesticide. Its a whole new fascinating kind of chemical formula that's not obviously toxic to people and insects are dying all over the place. Narrator: After the bombing of pearl Harbor, the. Military had rushed ddt to the battle zones, in an effort to protect American troops from insect-borne diseases such as typhus which was spread by lice, and left untreated could kill. Archival ddt: weapon Against Disease (1945 This was Naples, Italy, shortly after the Allied occupation.
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Narrator: In mid-July 1945, as the second World War ground on in the pacific and weary Americans scanned the morning's small headlines for the word "victory rachel Carson was trying to call attention to what she believed was a war against the earth. Carson was 38 that summer, and restless. A writer by inclination and a biologist by training, she'd spent much of the previous decade in the employ of the. Fish and Wildlife service, overseeing publications about its conservation work. The job paid the bills; but Carson craved a wider audience.
Now, the agency had undertaken a study she felt warranted public attention. As she put it in a letter to the popular monthly reader's Digest: "Practically at my backdoor. In Maryland an experiment of more than ordinary interest and importance is going.". On a vast, forested tract at the patuxent Research Refuge, not far from Carson's home in Silver Spring, fish and Wildlife scientists had begun to examine the environmental impacts of a relatively new chemistry-lab creation: a so-called "synthetic" pesticide known as ddt. William souder, biographer: ddt. It was first synthesized back in the 19th century and it sat on lab shelves for decades. Nobody knew if it did anything, if it had any useful purpose, until 1939 when a swiss chemist named paul Müller discovered that it was a very potent insecticide and killed all kinds of bugs very readily.
Archival: Rachel Carson If we are ever to solve the basic problem of environmental contamination, we must begin to count the many hidden costs of what we are doing. Archival: White-Stevens Miss Carson maintains that the balance of nature is a major force in the survival of man. Whereas the modern chemist, the modern biologist, the modern scientist believes that man is steadily controlling nature. Mark lytle, historian: It was sort of the gospel at the time that human ingenuity would triumph over nature; what Carson was arguing was for caution. She really confronted the orthodoxies of her time.
Naomi Oreskes, historian: She was accused of being a communist, of being a hysterical, female luddite. The reaction was to attack the messenger. Narrator: Carson was an unlikely heretic. Dutiful, demure, and so jealous of her solitude that her most intimate relationship was conducted mainly through letters, she'd thrust herself into the public eye all the while harboring a secret that was literally killing her. To some, silent Spring was an act of heroism; to others, an irresponsible breach of scientific objectivity. But there could be no dispute that with her rebuke to modern technological science, carson had shattered a paradigm. William souder, biographer: Rachel Carson not only changed the kind of questions we ask about the environment; I think she caused us to start to ask those questions.
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Narrator: It was presentation 1962 the height of the cold War a moment when unrelenting anxiety about the future was leavened by an abiding faith in the power of science to secure our safety and prosperity. Then came an incendiary book that sowed seeds of doubt. Archival: sevareid: This is one of the nation's best sellers, first printed on September 27, 1962. Up to now presentation 500,000 copies have been sold, and Silent Spring has been called the most controversial book of the year. Narrator: At the eye of the storm was Rachel Carson, one of the most celebrated American writers of her time. With her first three books a lyrical trilogy about the sea carson had opened people's eyes to the natural world. Silent Spring, she delivered the dark warning that they might soon destroy.
Major works: Under the sea-wind, defense the sea around Us, the Edge of the sea. Silent Spring, in her lyrical intuitions and extraordinary ear for the precision and balance of well-fashioned English sentences, her work transcends most so-called nature writing, earning a place as real literature beyond all genres that will endure to inspire those who follow. Rachel Carson is still insufficiently recognized for what she is and always will be, an American writer who escapes her several categories to endow us with some of the finest prose in the English language.—Peter Matthiessen. Read an excerpt from, silent Spring, we stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frosts familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road—the one less traveled by—offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth. Read a passage from. Silent Spring by rachel Carson.
new generation to historical figures like. Rachel Carson and to encourage young people who have a passion for the environment to consider careers such as those featured. Working Class: build grow Green. Technology and innovation provide obvious, well-publicized advantages in our modern age. Silent Spring reminds us not to overlook the potential toxicity of unbridled progress unchecked by public awareness. To honor Carsons legacy, let us use earth day 2017 to remind students that citizens have the right to voice their concerns and to demand what the law requires full discloser of products hidden and potentially harmful effects on health and the environment. Note to teachers and parents: The following resources, referenced in the above article, may be useful in your planning of Earth day and Climate Education week activities: American Experience rachel Carson streaming video, earth day 2017 Climate Education week toolkit free lesson plans and activities. 21, 2012 Earth day history, campaigns for schools and communities The life and Legacy of Rachel Carson biography, timeline, books, school projects and more working Class: build grow Green public television documentary featuring 21st century career opportunities).
The public outcry that followed the release of her book convinced the government to ban or severely restrict the use of dangerous business compounds exposed. The, environment and Society portal says, silent Springs greatest legal vindication was the toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 that protects the public from unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act strengthened the tscas requirements for evaluating and reporting chemical risk and safety issues. It is important for students to know the laws exist to protect human health and safety and they exist because individuals armed with information and courage brought awareness of life-and-death issues to the public. silent Spring made a powerful case for the idea that if humankind poisoned nature, nature would in turn poison humankind. In a 2012 article published by, the new York times Magazine, eliza griswold wrote, silent Spring, which has sold more than two million copies, made a powerful case for the idea that if humankind poisoned nature, nature would in turn poison humankind we still see. I remember proudly affixing green and white ecology symbols to my notebooks after the 1970 inauguration.
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When Rachel Carson revealed the dangerous overuse of pesticides in the mid-20th century, she increased public awareness of the impact of human intervention on the natural world. She set out to save a species us, declare the producers. American Experience rachel Carson, a pbs documentary that offers an intimate portrait of the woman whose groundbreaking books revolutionized our relationship to the natural world. She set out to save a species. In anticipation of Earth day 2017 (April 22 i highly recommend biography the film for family and classroom viewing. I also suggest teachers and parents review the free, online. Earth day 2017 Climate Education week toolkit, which offers cross-disciplinary lesson plans and activities, and encourages discussion of Rachel Carsons 1962 bestselling book. Rachel Carson, carson, a writer and marine biologist, bravely stood her ground defending scientific facts that contradicted the powerful chemical industrys claim of safety in popular pest control methods.