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Rachel Carson about Elixirs of Death - Essay Example

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Rachel Carson about Elixirs of Death

Malaria was a big killer and millions died of it. Swiss scientist Paul Hermann Muller was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1948 for the discovery and use of DDT.
Excess of anything is counterproductive. In the case of excessive DDT it was death threatening to both human and animal lives. Its use was banned in the United States in 1972. By 1969, WHO abandoned the eradication efforts of mosquitoes with the use of DDT (Kirsten Weir).
Rachel Carson was not the only person responsible for the eradication of DDT. There were several other factors that played vital roles in varying degrees in putting a stop to the use of DDT. In the 1950s, there were various lawsuits by ornithologists, book keepers and concerned citizens who sought court's injunctions to end DDT spraying. It took quite a while for the courts and the government to act and stop the use of DDT.
However, the role of Rachel Carson became the rallying point for the pro and anti DDT users for bouquets and brickbats. Her strategy of writing on a hitherto debatable subject evoked strong emotions on the professional as well as the layman's side. Even the scientists who did not share her views admired her qualities of penmanship.
Actually, DDT was one of the subjects Rachel touched upon in her book Silent Spring. ...
Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn squarely blamed Rachel for the ban on DDT and its supposed disastrous effect on the millions of deaths due to malaria around the globe. Novelist Michael Crichton teamed with Coburn and sounded out the damages accrued due to the ban on DDT in his novel State of Fear (Kirsten Weir).
However, the authorities in the judiciary and the government did not wait to check on science's veracity about the harmlessness of DDT and some other pesticides. There was obviously something wrong somewhere. These authorities felt it was the right thing to ban these pesticides to begin with. Those advocating the use of DDT as the miracle discovery and blaming Rachel Carson for its non-use today have stopped considering the true picture. Actually, mosquitoes were beginning to build up resistance against the use of DDT. Such resistance usually warrants a bigger quantity of DDT use. A bigger quantity means exposure to higher quantities of the inherent hurtful chemicals like carcinogens. The concerted efforts by agro-chemical interests that had the support of the United States government against Rachel failed to have any impact on her. She derided the complete works of man in the area of science under the umbrella of DDT. Science had its use and its place in the life of man. But its side-effects were proving to be counterproductive. There were disastrous situations and the emotions she was creating proved to undo some of those side-effects (Paul Vallely).
The actual reason for Silent Spring was a letter Rachel received in the late 1950s from a friend who owned a bird sanctuary in New England. It told her how all the creatures had died after a government-sponsored ...Show more


It is difficult to slot Rachel Carson in either the beneficial or detrimental category of science. But she is easily the most profound influence against the indiscriminate use of DDT as pesticide. The chapter "Elixirs of Death" in her book Silent Spring warranted total rethink on the use of DDT as pesticide…
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