Silent Spring is a book written by Rachel Carson. It was published on September 27, 1962. The spring was silent because the birds were being killed off by pesticides. Rachel Carson had researched the use of pesticides and wrote about the damage that pesticides were doing to the environment.
Naturally the companies that produced the pesticides opposed the conclusions of her research and denied that their products had unintended harmful side effects.
The arguments and the research put forth in her book prevailed against the propaganda produced by the pesticide industry. Her book led to a nationwide ban on using DDT for agricultural purposes. Her book helped to inspire an environmental movement in the USA. The environmental movement led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency or (EPA).
Her work is still being opposed. There are people who blame the non use of DDT for people who die due to malaria all over the world. They make that claim even though DDT is not generally the most effective way to prevent malaria in many circumstances. The argument also ignores the claim that people develop breast and other types of cancers from exposure to DDT.
In 2006 Silent Spring was named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by the editors of Discover Magazine.
It used to be unusual for me to see Bald Eagles. I see them quite often now. They are not close to extinction like they were back when Silent Spring was written. Perhaps each time I see one I should thank Rachel Carson for her contribution to their recovery.
I have not yet read Silent Spring. I was ten years old when the book was published. I was not overly concerned about the environment at that age. I remember a song from a few years later that perhaps influenced me and many other people to care about the environment. The song was called Big Yellow Taxi.
Here is something Joni Mitchel told a journalist about writing Big Yellow Taxi.
I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart... this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.
Joni Mitchel sang about paradise being turned into parking lots and she sang about not realizing what we have until it’s gone.
An author named Bill McKibben has written a book called Falter. It came out in April of this year. In the book he speculates about the human race coming to an end. He isn’t warning about a silent spring because of lack of birds. He is warning that silence may happen because we aren’t around.
Part of what God calls humans to do is to care for the earth.
If people like Rachel Carson had been less convincing back in 1962 perhaps there would not be any bald eagles around today. If people like Bill McKibben don’t convince enough people to care about the earth today, perhaps we won’t be around not too many years from now.
Seeing the big windmills north of Mountain Iron gives me hope for our future. I do some things to care for the earth, and I hope to do more as I learn more. I want my ten-year-old grandson and the generations that follow him to survive life on this planet. That only happens if we don’t sell out their future for the sake of short term economic gain.
Thank you for listening.
Pastor Brian Birk
Holy Trinity Lutheran