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A Sense of Wonder January 2, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Life Balance, Nature.

As Rachel Carson considered the impact of pesticides and DDT on the environment, she realized she did not want to undertake a writing project of that magnitude, but she knew the book needed to be written.

When every author she contacted declined to get involved, she decided to write an article, just that.

As she researched, the material grew.  She contracted to write a short book, and allocated 7 months to the project.  Two and 1/2 years later, she was still researching and hadn’t started writing.

A year before her death from cancer at the age of 56, Silent Spring was published.

The chemical companies were outraged and lambasted her.  She was called a paranoid old woman.  She was likened to Joseph McCarthy and his “witch”hunt.

It was publicity her publisher could never have afforded.

President Kennedy assigned a task force to look into the effects of DDT and other pesticides on the environment.

The EPA was born.  DDT was banned.

Rachel Carson continued to make speeches, addressing audiences about the dangers until shortly before her death in 1964.

Some authors create ripples.  Rachel Carson started a tidal wave.

Aah . . . that’s better!

“Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?” ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring



1. Hariod Brawn - January 2, 2015

An excellent woman who really left her mark upon the world.

nrhatch - January 2, 2015

Yes. She didn’t care for the limelight, but she sacrificed her anonymity to make the world a better place.

We are in her debt.

2. Jill Weatherholt - January 2, 2015

“A paranoid old woman.” Really? This is interesting, Nancy. I’m glad she was able to get her book published before she passed away.

nrhatch - January 2, 2015

Watching the video is very revealing . . . despite the CLOUDS of pesticides forming a “smoke screen.”

3. Pix Under the Oaks - January 2, 2015

I learn so much here! We live in rural Missouri where agriculture is the way of life and pesticides surround us. We do all we can to reduce our exposure. The quote! I am going to be googling her.

nrhatch - January 2, 2015

I read an article the other day about the effect of pesticides on migrant workers. It’s scary stuff . . . even without GMO’s.

4. NancyTex - January 2, 2015

If she was aware of Monsanto (and the lobbyists and corrupt government officials that allow them their shenanigans), Rachel would roll over in her grave. Sigh.

nrhatch - January 2, 2015

The world has taken a number of steps in the right direction . . . but we have miles to go before we sleep.

And it may end up being too little too late.

5. Kate Crimmins - January 2, 2015

And we wonder where all the cancers and other illnesses come from!

nrhatch - January 2, 2015

Yes! Cancers, illnesses, endocrine disorders, the early onset of puberty in kids caused by growth hormones in meat, etc.

Our food supply is tainted/ poisoned. Even before one considers all the GMO’s flooding the grocer’s shelves.

6. William D'Andrea - January 2, 2015

“…a home in insipid surroundings”? That depends what you mean by “insipid”. One definition is “dull”. If you think you live in a dull neighborhood, which is what some people call the suburbs; would you prefer to live in a high crime neighborhood; which is anything but dull?

“a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies”?
Who are they? The people who work beside you on the job? They could be family members. Like it or not, you’ve just got to put up with them.

nrhatch - January 2, 2015

Her words speak volumes to me ~ especially what she meant by “a world which is just not quite fatal.”

7. Valleygrail - January 2, 2015

“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species — man — acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world.” Rachel Carson
She was brilliant, and spot on. Great post!

nrhatch - January 2, 2015

We’ve visited the Rachel Carson Preserve in Maine. It’s a wonderful place to wander amid nature.

Nature nurtures.

8. thecontentedcrafter - January 2, 2015

I read ‘Silent Spring’ in 1972 and it changed my life. I am forever indebted to Rachel Carson for her tenacity and her courage in writing this book. She was prophetic in so much of what she wrote – yet as seen in your comments section, her words can still be willfully misunderstand. I do wonder why it is that over 50 years later we have a world that is more poisoned and poisonous for our children than in her day. Thanks for the reminder Nancy, she was a great woman!

nrhatch - January 2, 2015

Thank you for your thoughtful comment and keen observations, Pauline. No easy answer, but ~> Arrogance, Greed, Unbridled Competition, Political Corruption, Expanding Populations (and Waistlines!), Excessive Consumption (to feed insatiable Egos) all contribute to the “Perfect Storm.”

If the world continues in its downward spiral, I wonder how much time we have left?

9. Val Boyko - January 2, 2015

What a remarkable woman and such a powerful quote Nancy!
Thank you for bringing us this awareness and spirit to bring about change.

nrhatch - January 2, 2015

I am heartened by seeing Eagles, Ospreys, Hawks, and Pelicans rebounding in numbers following the ban on DDT. But we have such a long way to go to right the wrongs which assault this precious, albeit fragile, planet.

Her quote is as apt today as it was 50 years ago ~> “Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?”

10. Barb - January 2, 2015

What a woman, and as you say Nancy, we are in her debt. The DDT spraying was unforgivable – and we wonder why there are so many people suffering from cancer like never before.
However, we do still have a ways to go – let’s hope it’s not too late for our planet.

nrhatch - January 2, 2015

I oscillate between optimism and pessimism.

We take one step forward and three steps back. It’s mind boggling that “success” is still defined by the “bottom line” with little to no regard for sustainability.

11. Silver in the Barn - January 2, 2015

I remember reading “Silent Spring” as a girl and being so affected by it. BH remembers as a child running out into the mosquito spray that the town would spray into the streets. All the kids did. EGAD. Never let it be said one person can’t make an enormous difference. We talked about her when we went on that photography shoot of the eagles on the James River in October.

nrhatch - January 3, 2015

BFF remembers running through the clouds of mosquito spray too. ACK!

I spent my summers chasing the Good Humor truck. 😎

These days, I doubt we would hear (or heed) the cry of a lone wolf like Rachel Carson admonishing us to restore the balance of nature. Her words would be drowned out by the cacophonous roar of the economic engines.

12. joannevalentinesimson - January 2, 2015

And now, what about Monsanto and glyphosate? Are we killing all our bees? There it is, the agricultural chemists seem not to understand the importance of the birds and the bees.

nrhatch - January 3, 2015

Man is a parasite pursuing profits at the expense of all else. And once we’ve destroyed the circle of life, what then?

13. jannatwrites - January 2, 2015

She certainly did make an impact. Thankfully, she was heard. (Unfortunately, I can’t help but think of all the other dangers yet to be exposed.)

nrhatch - January 3, 2015

Or dangers exposed . . . then swept under the rug by people who don’t want to protect the bees or the trees.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~ Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

14. Behind the Story - January 3, 2015

I remember when Silent Spring came out–and I wasn’t even a student of science. She may have started a tidal wave, but there’s so much more to be done and so many obstacles to be overcome. I’ve been reading recently about our hormones and the environmental toxins that disrupt them.

nrhatch - January 3, 2015

Yes! Environmental contaminants are endocrine disruptors that upset the balance of hormones in the body.

Example: Fluoride.

Fluoride interferes with thyroid function. For the first half of the 20th century, fluoride was used as an anti-thyroid drug to treat hyperthyroid patients by slowing production of hormone levels. Fluoride was effective at suppressing or reducing thyroid function, and the dose needed to reduce thyroid function was low — 2 to 5 mg per day over a period of months.

The levels of fluoride used to treat an overactive thyroid are in the same range of exposure (1.6 to 6.6 mg/day) that is estimated in people living in communities with fluoridated water supplies.

Fluoride is in our drinking water, toothpaste, fluoride rinses, and swimming pools ~> we are bathing daily in a pool of toxic sludge.

Behind the Story - January 3, 2015

I have a good filter for my drinking water, but I still bathe in fluoridated water.

nrhatch - January 6, 2015

We use a Pur Filter but I don’t think it removes the fluoride. A whole house osmosis system would, but we haven’t looked into what that would cost yet.

So we muddle along and keep our fingers crossed that our “not quite fatal” environment improves before we succumb.

15. Barb - January 3, 2015

When I read Silent Spring so many years ago, I was struck with how advanced thinking she was for her time. What a wonderful woman with a mission. Thanks for reminding us.

nrhatch - January 6, 2015

Yes. She was brave and articulate and recognized the value of protecting our environment. She knew that nature nurtures.

16. Three Well Beings - January 6, 2015

I have Rachel Carson’s books on my shelves and have read them several times through the years. I admire her greatly! I was only about 12 when she died, but I can still remember being confused by the things that were said about her. I knew just enough about the work she had done and at least something about Silent Spring, and even at a young age I knew that she had something important to say and it didn’t make sense that there were those who hated her. I didn’t yet have any clue about the power of big corporations. You brought back those memories as I read this, Nancy. I had forgotten that President Kennedy was integral in the beginnings of the EPA and investigating DDT. I do repeat–she was an amazing woman! Very inspiring.

nrhatch - January 6, 2015

For a “paranoid old woman,” she created quite a stir. Perhaps we should Listen Again to her wise counsel.

We’ve got lots to clean up.

17. Yolanda M. - January 7, 2015

Thanks for this – I had never heard of Rachel Carson until now (go figure?) This post reminds me of a documentary friends and I watched on bees and how the neonicotinoid class of pesticide is contributing to their decline . We’re actually thinking of doing a beekeeping course in the near future but don’t know how to keep them away from all the seed treated plants and flowers out there 😦

nrhatch - January 8, 2015

I expect that will be something that’s covered in the course ~ assuming a solution exists.

What’s happening with the bees (and other environmental impacts) is alarming. But we just keep hitting the *SNOOZE* button. We snooze . . . we lose!

18. Paula Tohline Calhoun - January 21, 2015

I read Silent Spring while I was in 9th grade (in 1964), can’t remember if it was just before or just after her death, but it continues to have a profound effect on me. Never have nor never will forget, God Willing, her warnings and admonishment and indeed her encouragement throughout that book. She knew there would be little point in warning us of something that could not be fixed or at least improved. We remain in that limbo today, because we live in a world of such varied understandings and misunderstandings of our world and its ecological interdependence and fragility. I have come to the conclusion that though I try to do my best as a steward of God’s creation, I alone cannot do it all, but I can find ways to make the need more evident and easily understood. So much of the success of that depends on our willingness to listen willingly and open-mindedly to what opposing opinions have to say. I try, and find myself coughing and choking a bit on their words and ideas, but I suppose it’s a start!

Love to you, BFF, and the toothless feline so happily living life!

Paula Tohline Calhoun - January 21, 2015

Read my next post to learn about what to me is the most colossal “auto correct” ever foisted on the computer user. Coming soon. . .

nrhatch - January 21, 2015

Thanks, PTC! Will do. I’m off to hang out with BFF but I’ll look forward to your post about the “auto correct” feature.

nrhatch - January 21, 2015

And remember . . . just because you’re trying to give opposing opinions the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean that they have any validity ~> some people are ignorant, idiotic, and/or just plain evil! :mrgreen:

Paula Tohline Calhoun - January 26, 2015

Good grief, yes! After reading my reply above I can see how you might think that I give them some benefit of the doubt. My effort at listening is so that they might feel obligated to listen to me in return. Yes, some people are incredibly ignorant, and just downright stupid! My main argument with those people who claim there is no such thing as global warming (BTW, I just read that 2014 was the hottest year, on average, for planet earth ever recorded) is “so what?” The reason we work for a clean, safe environment is because it is our job to be stewards of creation.Why mess up the planet for an extra buck now when it is going to cost so much more money to rescue a dying planet. F o r the same reasons, it is so much wiser and less expensive to spend our money on building good schools and paying our teachers a living wage, and hire more of them, than it is to build more and more prisons and continue shouldering ignorant, but possibly capable people in a run-down welfare system.

Oh well. . . Lying in a hospital bed can sometimes get my dander up. Actually, it always gets my dander up, but I better behave now, as I think I’ll be going home this week😇

nrhatch - January 26, 2015

Hope you are headed “Home Sweet Home” soon, PTC. In the meantime, don’t let the “dastards” (dimwitted bastards) get your dander up. 😛

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