Tying it all together: Carson’s “Silent Spring”   Leave a comment

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring dedicates an entire chapter revealing the mismanagement of our water resources.  It shows how overuse of pesticides flows from plant to stream, stream to river, river to sea.  It also shows how it contaminates the great (and usually forgotten) system of rivers beneath our land: ground water.

Birds and marine life seem to absorb dangerous chemicals at a higher level than most other animals.   A chain of reactions occurs when chemicals (and in Carson’s case, pesticides) begin to contaminate lakes and other bodies of water.  When the waterway is poisoned, first affected are the microorganisms and algae that help maintain the health of the water.  They contain a level of the contaminant slightly higher than what was originally introduced into the ecosystem.  Unfortunately, when fish begin to eat these organisms, the level in the fish grows significantly higher, and birds who eat these fish have the highest levels of all.  Something about the body and the food cycle seems to increase the danger and amount of chemicals.

In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.

When these chemicals begin to infiltrate the water supply, they also begin to change the chemistry of what we’re drinking from the tap.  Carson found that most chemicals–especially pesticides–couldn’t even be identified, much less purified.  Surely some of these things have changed, but overuse of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals still contaminates our rivers–major sources of water for us.

Pesticides are detected almost all of the time in streams in all areas of our country.

Though Rachel Carson warned about the overuse of pesticides in her book in 1962, since 1966, “National use of pesticides grew from about 540 million
pounds in 1964 to about 1.1 billion pounds in 1993.” (USGS data).

Ground water is even more at risk, and it can a long time for chemicals to appear in wells utilizing ground water.  These pesticides affect every part of our country.

Nearly ten percent of streams in agricultural areas contain levels of pesticides exceeding the limit set for human use of the water.

Human health is at risk due to overuse of pesticides

Pesticides aren’t the only problem. As we’ve seen, oil can cause severe destruction of the marine ecosystem. The BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico may be the worst spill of all time.

My question is who decided it would be a good idea to make these off-shore oil rigs with no plan for containment or shutting down the rig in the event of a catastrophe like this? When the companies behind the rig were planning it, shouldn’t they have considered a potential disaster like this one?

Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP said

It’s clear that we will find things we can do differently, capability that we could have available to deploy instantly, rather than be creating it as we go.

Perhaps when you have an oil well a depth that only robots can reach, an emergency plan would have been useful.

Now the oil is reaching the treasured Louisiana wetlands, with no end in sight.  The wetlands are some of the richest ecosystems in the world and losing them means a major loss of biodiversity on our planet.

Shouldn't we work harder now so we don't have to say, "we could have done more."?

Since the oil is now reaching shore, isn’t it plausible that this oil, if not cleaned quickly, could soon contaminate waterways used for human consumption? The ground water?

Just like pesticides, which were designed for the benefit of humans began to cause severe health problems in ourselves, the oil that we desire could end up sickening us.

The oil is quickly not only becoming a threat to nature, but us as well. We must do everything possible to stop the destruction now so we don’t have to look back and say, “we could have done more.”

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Posted May 22, 2010 by Connor Arter in Uncategorized

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