Sunday, July 29, 2012

SILENT SPRING by Rachel Carson

     SILENT SPRING by Rachel Carson was the Vegan Serenity Book of the Month for July.  While it just celebrated its 50th anniversary and some of the data in it was dated, the book still held a great impact for me.  I'm already on board with the organic way of life and feel very strongly against using pesticides/herbicides/fungicides/etc whether in one's garden or on the weeds in one's driveway or spraying "nuisance weeds" along the edge of a highway.  This book gave a very clear and sometimes frightful illustration of what was happening at the time it was written (late 1950's, early 1960's) and what was to come if we didn't change our ways. (We've changed some of them since SILENT SPRING was published but are still on a very dangerous path!)
     While a big focus was on DDT (a thankfully-now-banned insectide in the U.S.) SILENT SPRING covered other chemicals as well and how they harm not only the plants and insects they were meant to target but also the humans, animals, and other plant life they encounter. The indiscriminate and often uneducated and haphazard application of some of these chemicals caused property damage, destruction of the natural environment, death of lifestock and pets, and even the disease and death of some people.  Contamination of water supplies, soils, and the air that people breathed was a long-term problem.  
     Even though there are (allegedly) stricter rules about the use of these chemicals today we are all still at danger of being poisoned by them.  I am not naive enough to believe that one can 100% safeguard him or herself from these dangers.  They are ever present and permeate pretty much every facet of our lives.  However, one CAN make lifestyle changes to help decrease his/her chances of becoming yet another victim of these toxic chemicals that are used so blindly today.  Choosing to buy, grow, and consume as many organic food items as possible, using natural/organic health and beauty products, using natural household cleaners...these are just some of the things one can do to minimize the risks.
    I think this is an important read for anyone who claims to be "green" or "environmentally aware."  It is filled with timeless wisdom.  Carson was a woman ahead of the curve and it is very sad, and ironic, that she died from breast cancer just a few years after writing this.  She wrote about all the dangers of these chemicals and how they were ruining people's lives (via many routes, cancer being one of them.)  All the while she was stricken with the very same problem that may have been caused by just such chemicals. (Pesticides contain xenoestrogens that are linked to cancer.)

Check out this crazy footage of DDT being sprayed on kids over 50 years ago!  Can you imagine this???  These kids are now turning into senior citizens who probably have myriad health problems!  Like I said, DDT is now banned in the U.S. but unfortunately is used in some other countries.  Those poor people! :(

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