In the book "Silent Spring," is Carson opposed to all pesticides?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would say that Carson is opposed to all pesticides at the time.  Carson sees the use of pesticides at the time as problematic on a couple of levels.  The first challenge is that the use of pesticides denies the fundamental ecological connection that underscores all life.  Artificially eliminating one organism for the convenience of another disrupts the balance of ecological cycles that have been present for oceans of time.  The use of pesticides does this and inevitably harms this balance.  Carson does not really draw a distinction between “good” and “bad” pesticides because she sees the presence of pesticides at the time as something that harms the entire framework of life. She also argues from an extremely scientific paradigm that the basic building block of carbon life forms are altered through the inorganic nature of the pesticide.  This analysis is rooted in scientific inquiry that resides in biology and chemistry.  The second problem she has with the use of pesticides is that it goes against the idea of seeking natural alternatives to overpopulation and harming of assets.  I don’t think that Carson is against limiting the growth and expansion of population because this ends up becoming an ecological challenge, as well.  Rather, she is arguing for a more holistic approach to the problem in that seeking out natural solutions to the situation would be more ecologically friendly than introducing an artificial approach.  For example, if an organism is in abundance and threatens crops, instead of a pesticide to be used to eliminate it, introduce a natural predator of the organism into the environment to limit the organisms’ growth.  A very oversimplified example of this would be that if one has a rodent problem, introducing a cat in to the environment could be more environmentally friendly than bringing in pesticides to get rid of the rodent problem.  The idea that Carson is going for is seeking natural solutions to natural challenges, as opposed to immediately embracing the pesticide as the automatic solution.

We’ve answered 318,994 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question