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Rachel Carson and the Enviromental Movement - Research Paper Example

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Rachel Carson was a nature loving person from her childhood. Growing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania she switched from English to Biology majors. After graduating and during the World War II, Carson worked with U.S bureau of Fisheries to create public awareness about aquatic life…
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Rachel Carson and the Enviromental Movement
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Download file to see previous pages She continued her personal research and writings about the environment and ecological issues during her federal service and subsequently published two books Under the Sea Wind (1941) and The Sea around Us (1951). Carson was conferred with two doctorate degrees; national book award and a national science writing prize and excerpts from her later book were reprinted in famous magazines like Science Digest, The Yale Review and The New Yorker. Later she left her federal employment and started to focus on third book The Edge of the Sea (1955). In early 1957, a letter from an old friend from Duxbury, Massachusetts described declining rates of bird population in her private sanctuary after the authorities’ sprayed fuel oil and DDT. Immediately, Carson researched DDT and other chemicals toxic effects and this became the basis of her next book Silent Spring (1962) (Mahoney, 2009). Silent Spring was initially published in serialized magazine form, later it was released in the form of a book (Clapp, 2000). The book became an instant bestseller and was widely covered by media. More than 250,000 copies of her book were sold in the first four months of its release making it a bestseller (Lantier, 2009). Back then, forest and crop lands were extensively sprayed with pesticides such as DDT to eradicate insect pests. However, unexpected consequences were witnessed due to spraying against fire ants in South and mosquitoes along the coastal line from New York to Maine. The result was successful eradication of insect pests and disease vectors but at the cost of immense damage to local fauna, wild life and environment. Scientists documented decline in fish, birds and animal population along with water and soil contamination. Also, alarming variations in the reproductive patterns and egg shells of various birds that primarily fed on fish were noticed. These changes not only indicated hormonal and reproductive changes but also a steep decline in avian population that could endanger the existence of certain species (Lear, 2001). Specifically, three unrelated events were extremely vital in providing evidence to Carson for the detrimental effects of pesticides, chemicals and toxic wastes on human health and environment. First one, involved the USDA campaign to eradicate fire ant from Southern states by spraying with dieldrin and heptachlor. These two pesticides accumulated in water ways and soil causing wildlife damage (Lear, 1993). As a consequence of fire ant control program heavy invertebrate immortality, population decline, slow recovery rate and residual traces of heptachlor and heptachlor epoxide was witnessed in majority of fauna in treated area (Dunlap, 2008). Carson (2002) labeled the fire ant eradication program as “ill-conceived, badly executed and thoroughly detrimental experiment in destruction of animal life”. Secondly, the aerial spraying of DDT mixed with fuel oil for mosquito control caused decline in bird population in coastal areas (Lear, 1993). Thirdly, DDT was sprayed on elm trees in Michigan State University campus aiming to eliminate bark beetle that was responsible for spreading the Dutch elm disease. However, along with pest elimination large population of robin died as a result of feeding on earthworms; that fed on DDT infested leaves (Lear, 1993). Other primary events that justified Carson’s claims was banning of cranberry product sale for three years (1957-59) as high levels of toxic chemicals known to cause cancer in rats was discovered ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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