Rachel Carson’s Washington Post letter to the editor in 1953, nearly 60 years ago, challenged us and our leaders to protect, not destroy, our natural environment, writing: “ ... The real wealth of the Nation lies in the resources of the earth — soil, water, forests, minerals, and wildlife. To utilize them for present needs while insuring their preservation for future generations requires a delicately balanced and continuing program, based on the most extensive research. Their administration is not properly, and cannot be, a matter of politics ... ”
Her 1962 book, “Silent Spring,” was a more dire appeal to stop the devastating effects of insecticides, especially DDT, on wildlife and humans, causing disease and death.
Sixty years since Carson sounded the alarm, and we are still fighting large chemical companies, such as Monsanto, to put safety first rather than greed. Instead, new, more insidious and powerful chemicals emerged, such as “round-up ready” seeds and genetically modified organisms, banned in many countries, but not in the U.S.
New generations of chemicals span the entire growth cycle — seed to table — with the yet-to-be-fully-understood residues found deep in human tissue, and killing pollinators such as honeybees.
Earth Day is April 22. We can honor Carson’s legacy by recommitting to her vision of protecting the environment. We can buy local, organic foods, or grow our own. We can tell the chemical companies and politicians that we will not tolerate unsafe products and practices. Our collective voices work.
Will our songbirds be silenced? What then?
Suzanne Dunham, Greenwood