The Contribution of Rachel Carson
The Contribution of Rachel Carson
For many decades insects were and still are considered enemies mainly for farmers. In the early 1900’s there was a woman biologist who devoted her entire life to saving nature. Her name was Rachel Carson and she changed the whole idea of what people thought was the right solution for getting rid of insects. At that time, scientists discovered pesticides that would kill the insects and end the war between farmers and insects that attacked their crops. Rachel Carson introduced her point of view from her scientific research to the public through her book titled Silent Spring, which is about humans destroying the entire earth and all the living things including humans themselves instead of supporting life.
As Rachel Carson was a little girl, she already knew that she wanted to be a recognized writer when she grows up. She wrote her first work by the age of ten. She also was interested in nature. (PBS) Rachel was introduced to nature by her mother and it became her religion. She was fascinated with it and she believed in herself as she believed in nature. This was the biggest thing that motivated her life and helped her define her own beliefs and her inner self being.
During her scientific research, Carson discovered that people were misusing pesticides to kill insects that caused much damage. She became aware of the harm that people were doing to earth and all the living things. Some scientists came up with powerful chemicals that would kill insects effectively. One of them was called DDT. “Their pesticides effectiveness in controlling insects was unchallenged, but many scientists and ecologists became increasingly concerned about the indiscriminate use of the chemicals, whose poisons affected not only pests but also many other life forms, including humans.” (Carson “Elixirs,” 8) People would spray those chemicals everywhere it was possible because they thought it was harmless to them but helpful to get rid of all the insects that were causing some damage, yet because of overuse of pesticides, everything was contaminated including air, earth, water, domestic and wild animals, and even humans. It was almost impossible to find a place that was not affected by those chemicals. (Carson “Elixirs,” 8)
Her solution was to reveal everything she found out about the chemicals to the public so they knew what they were dealing with; however, she knew this would not be easy. At that time women were not taken seriously. They were supposed to clean the house, take care of the children, and cook for their family. She tried many ways to reach the public, but she failed many times. Carson even tried to write articles for different magazines and papers but they would not take her seriously. In one of her works she wrote, “If we are going to live so intimately with these chemicals – eating and drinking them, taking them into the very marrow of our bones – we had better know something about their nature and their power” (Carson “Elixirs,” 9). She believed that people should know what they are dealing with; not only the good things but also the hazardous and dangerous side effects of those deadly chemicals.
Finally, she decided to write a book titled “Silent Spring” that would include everything she knew about those pesticides. She used the data that she collected during her research to explain her point. Carson had also contacts with people who were sneaking evidence to her for her book, which helped her a lot. In her book, she “took on the juggernaut of the chemical companies and their supporters – government agencies, trade associations and their journals, popular magazines, as well as university scientists who obtained grants from the chemical industries (Fleisher 200).” She also explained how the “chemicals sprayed on croplands or forests or gardens lie long in soil, entering into living organisms, passing from one to another in a chain of poisoning and death (Carson “Obligation,” 345).”
Most of this damage was irreversible. In her opinion, that after the chemicals were used it would take generations to restore the natural world to its prestige state. She stressed that her point is not to stop using the pesticides but to stop abusing them. She wanted to let the society know that they were using the chemicals improperly. Instead protecting, they were destroying the earth (PBS). The book caused an enormous shock wave throughout the society: “Because of Carson’s ability to communicate skillfully her precise scientific knowledge in combination with her respect for life, she inspired the modern ecological movement (Fleisher 200).” She gave a new meaning to ecology. The book was translated into 22 languages all over the world.
However, there were many people who tried to put her down. Her book was researched by many intelligent scientists and they could not find anything wrong with the data that she provided; therefore, they tried to destroy her private life. (Fleisher 200) They said she was insane and had no knowledge whatsoever about science. There were many chemical companies that disagreed with what she wrote. All this was not enough to put her down. The evidence that she showed were incontrovertible. She was named the “physical scientists with liberal changes (PBS).” She worked hard on her research and was open-minded for any new ideas.
Briefly, Rachel Carson was a woman scientist that changed the meaning of ecology. She wrote a book that changed the entire prospective of the use of pesticides. She struggled a lot to prove her point. She failed many times, but in the end, her work paid off. Her book was a best seller within two weeks. She died two years after the book was published; she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be remembered and appreciated for her accomplishments.