Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, 27 September, 1962
Through all these new, imaginative, and creative approaches to the problem of sharing our earth with other creatures there runs a constant theme, the awareness that we are dealing with life — with living populations and all their pressures and counter pressures, their surges, and recessions. Only by taking account of such life forces and by cautiously seeking to guide them into channels favorable to ourselves can we hope to achieve a reasonable accommodation between the insect hordes and ourselves.
The current vogue for poisons has failed utterly to take into account these most fundamental considerations. As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life -– a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways. These extraordinary capacities of life have been ignored by the practitioners of chemical control who have brought to their task no “high-minded orientation,” no humility before the vast forces with which they tamper.
The “control of nature” is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man. The concepts and practices of applied entomology for the most part date from that Stone Age of science. It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modem and terrible weapons and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth.
The book’s dedication:
To Albert Schweitzer who said,
“Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.”
Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting the industry’s marketing claims unquestioningly.
Exactly 60 years ago. Has anything changed?