How are Darwin's ideas of survival of the fittest so well illustrated by Carson's observations on the effects of pesticides?

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trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In 1962, Rachel Carson published the book, Silent Spring which illustrated the effect of pesticides on the environment and all the organisms that live there. In her book, not only did the insects get affected by pesticides, but everything else as well. She showed the complex interactions between living things and the environment. Charles Darwin discussed the idea of survival of the fittest. When there is a change in the environment, those organisms with the best adaptations will survive and others will perish. The introduction of pesticides, as in the novel Silent Spring would be a change in the environment. Not all species would be able to survive its introduction into the food, water and air. Therefore, those with adaptations that allow them to withstand the pesticide, would live and possibly reproduce and pass along these adaptations to their offspring. The others, would perish. An actual example was the widespread use of D.D.T. a potent insecticide which used to be used to combat mosquitoes and other pests. Unfortunately, it doesn't easily break down and entered the food chains. It not only killed insects, but many fish and birds were also effected as well as other organisms. Its use was eventually banned. It illustrates the principles found in Carson's book as well as Darwin's idea of survival of the fittest.

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