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Thread subject: about Rachel Carson
Name Date Message
Shelley 07/23/04 08:43 am Just recently, a few of you have mentioned Rachel Carson in some posts. I had copied and saved the following passages not too long ago, intending to post my own thoughts about this somewhere, but unfortunately, I must have got sidetracked (imagine!) and am ashamed to admit now that not only did I never get around to doing so, but I can't even remember where I took this from, and so, cannot credit it properly. If anyone recognizes it and can provide the author, please do so; I am not intending to plagiarize!!


"In 1958, Olga Owens Hucking, the owner of a private bird sanctuary in Duxbury, Massachusetts sent a letter to Carson. Ms. Hucking was alarmed at the dead and dying birds at her sanctuary. That letter may have been the deciding factor prompting Carson's next book. It was clear to Carson that the issue of pesticides had to be addressed in a book with a tone different than her earlier writings. Her book, Silent Spring, was published in 1962. In it, Carson addressed the dangers posed by DDT and the dangers of a society blinded by technological progress.
The evidence was undisputedly conclusive that DDT interfered with calcium metabolism in birds at the top of the food chain. With no mechanism to excrete or breakdown DDT, birds at the top of the food chain accumulated DDT as they ate smaller birds, which, in turn, ate insects exposed to DDT. The interference with calcium metabolism caused thinning eggshells that broke easily.

The reviews of Silent Spring included the United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, "The most important chronicle of this century for the human race" and Loren Eisely of the University of Pennsylvania, "Devastatingly, heavily documented, relentless attack upon human carelessness, greed and irresponsibility." President Kennedy's Science Advisory Committee issued a report on May 15, 1963, confirming every point emphasized in Silent Spring.

Over the next two years, Rachel Carson carried on despite poor health. She responded to attacks by testifying at congressional hearings, appearing on television news shows and conferring with President Kennedy and his Science Advisory Committee. On April 14, 1964, Rachel Carson died of breast cancer at age fifty-six. It is an unhappy irony that she should die from a disease that has been linked by some to technological products and by-products in the environment."


Shelley 07/23/04 08:52 am Marie, it was your post yesterday, quoting from David Gessner's book, that put me on my search for the above post of mine. Here is what you quoted (it sends chills down my spine, reading such eloquence!):

"David Gessner puts it so poetically...'The osprey rises out of the mist of the marsh and as it comes into view its full outline glimmers in the sunlight. Water sparkles on its primaries and a glint of silver shines like a knife blade as it lifts its catch to fly toward the nest' Ahhhhhhh Like the mythical 'PHOENIX', the Osprey has overcome death to rise again to bring enrichment to all our lives for those who take the time to watch this great bird."
Marie 07/23/04 09:15 am Yes Shelley...I love poetic writing. The later paragraph to what DG wrote is mine. The reference to the Phoenix
cathy 07/23/04 09:44 am I have heard that Ospreys live up to 25 years and the reason they are still around is because they kept laying eggs year after year, with all breaking from DDT poisoning, until long enough after the DDT ban for the eggs to hatch again. There is a toxic bloom in Puget Sound that kills all fish. This is thought to be because of all the treated fresh water from sewage treatment plants disrupts the water chemistry so as the population increases, these blooms increase. Its a very difficult problem, but unless something is intentionally done, it will become worse. I wonder what the solution is for this.
Stella 07/23/04 03:25 pm To All,
I am old enough to have read Silent Spring the year it came out and I must say it changed my life. To read that bird eggs were damaged in areas miles away from civilization from the DDT floating in the air, they found thin shelled eggs in remote tundras.
In 1962 I moved into my home and with all the new homeowners spraying for lawn bugs, termites, flying insects, walking outside was like taking your life and your lungs in jeopardy. There has never been any spraying for anything on my property and I have convinced many neighbors to do the same.
People are funny, they spray for bugs in their gardens and wonder why their vegetables are not getting pollenated, they are killing the pollinators as well. Every year there as less Monarch butterflies in my yard, so sad people dont heed the warnings. Rachel Carson is my hero and always will be.
Marie 07/23/04 04:44 pm Well stated Stella.......we need to be very cautious as to what we spray. Often the so called innocent chemicals come back to haunt us ten-twenty years later. Respect for all of Nature is my motto.
Shelley 07/23/04 05:16 pm My city just passed a by-law banning all pesticides. While in theory, it sounds wonderful, it is really stupid because first of all, they won't start enforcing it for another 2 years (please explain the logic of this to me, I must be missing a point?!?!? Sheesh!) and also, *certain* areas will be exempt. They named some ludicrous percentage, I can't recall it now, but let's say if you have 5% of your lawn covered with dandelions, or some other weeds, for example, you can spray. Don't take my numbers at face value, I'm just giving any number, but my point is, who the heck is going to determine that percentage and HOW, exactly?? Are they going to come count them???


I swear, sometimes I wonder just how much money those law-makers are earning and what I need to do to qualify.....


They must have inhaled too much pesticide.....
Marie 07/23/04 05:32 pm Shelley you are soooooooo funny!
Stella 07/24/04 11:43 am I guess I must be in the minority of people that actually pull up dandelion and such. We wonder why Americans are out of shape, they take the easy way out....start digging America and teach your children to do the same.
Lawns though looking nice are the biggest waste of resources, tons of fertilizer going into our water supplies. Billions of gals. of water is being used for that patch of green. We only worry about our wildlife until they are on the brink of extinction....sorry to rant.
Shelley 07/24/04 12:21 pm You think YOU'RE in the minority?? I am the only one I know who actually LIKES dandelions!! Sure, I pull them up on my lawn if they are growing where I have planted something else, but in general, I don't even bother pulling tham at all. For some reason, I have always liked them. There's something very wild, primitive, childlike and cheerful about dandelions (both the yellow and the white fluffy stages) that has always appealed to me.

And I also don't allow any poison on my property...
Cecilia 07/24/04 12:42 pm I swear that I read somewhere that in England they call them "lawn flowers". I've always liked the sound of that!
Marie 07/24/04 01:20 pm I believe Dandelions are edible. Why aren't we harvesting them... :-))
Lori 07/24/04 11:57 pm I understand that dandelions make a good wine!!!

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Tom Throwe
Last modified: Fri Dec 31 23:49:43 EST 2004