In the book Silent Spring, Carson makes a powerful argument about the detrimental effects human beings have had on nature in the present century, contaminating the air, water, and soil with lethal materials. She highlights, in particular, the extensively threatening effects of manmade insecticides, which Carson terms “biocides”, has had on the natural ecosystem. She argues that along with killing bugs, it kills good insects and in addition, the residues of these toxic chemicals contaminate the food chain which eventually finds its way up and gets stored in the bodies of fishes, animals, and humans. She explains in detail the effects of these toxic chemicals or ‘elixirs of death” on water, soil, plants, birds, animals and human beings in particular children. She powerfully presents the idea that this poisoning of mother nature by humankind is going to backfire soon.
Carson says, ‘There is very limited awareness of the nature of the threat. It is the public that is being asked to assume the risks that the insect controllers calculate. The public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present road, and it can do so only when in full possession of the facts.” Throughout the book, Carson goes into details of complex scientific facts and attempts to explain them in simple words for public to be able to grasp the magnitude of the disastrous implications that the unchecked use of these poisonspose. She stands as an advocate for the public and future generations giving them facts about various toxic chemical agents being used and their effects on the environment and us. She supports the use of biological methods that maintains ecological balance to tackle the problems of insects, pest, and weeds rather than using chemicals methods.
All these potent toxic chemicals were produced by man in order to fight a few ‘bugs” with the intention to increase agricultural output. They were discovered during the second world war in attempts to discover agents for chemical warfare which incidentally were lethal to insects as well. Ever since humans have successfully synthesized several more potent chemicals at a rate of around 500 new agents per year. However, Carson points out that these are futile attempts against nature, as more potent chemicals induce the generation of more resistant insects, resulting in a never-ending loop. Through all this, we end up exposing nature and humans to a whole load of toxic substances at a staggering rate, that alter the very core processes and functions of life and nature.
Economic growth and rise in populationhas created more consumption, subsequently increasing demand. These have resulted in attempts to overproduce from limited available agricultural land, spurring the use of more fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides. With the active involvement of industry and technology in this area, there has been an enthusiasm to introduce newer chemical agents and machines into the global market. This has further worsened the scenario. Carson points out that, with the right to earn a dollar the right to know has been compromised. The chemical industry has been feeding the public with only half the truth and sugar-coating dangerous realities.