“There was a strange stillness. The birds, for example—where had they gone?” “The feeding stations in the backyards were deserted. The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was spring without voices.” “On the farms the hens brooded, but no chicks hatched.” “The roadsides, once so attractive, were now lined with browned and withered vegetation as though swept by fire. These, too, were silent, deserted by all living things. Even the streams were now lifeless.”
This is a strange scene described by Rachel Carson, who is regarded as “the mother of modern environmental protection movement”。 Silent Spring is her representative work which lighted the fire of environmental protection in America and the whole world. Before 1960s, no books or magazines talked about things like environment and ecosystem. Such a phenomenon means that environmental protection had not come to people’s mind and the social consciousness. Indeed, the main opinion in human society from the very past about nature is to “set war against” or “conquer” it. In fact, many of human’s progresses are made on the base of such opinion. Rachel Carson was the first person who doubted the correctness of the belief and brought the topic under focus.
In Silent Spring, Carson described a miserable village which was dying under the using of DDT. The village used to be prosperous and beautiful. “In spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. Then foxed barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall mornings.” She thought that with the using of variety kinds of pesticide, especially DDTs, the village suffered enormous and irreversible damage and gradually withered and died. Soon it became just like the one described in the beginning. From her fine and smooth describing, I can even feel the groan of the town. Moreover Carson also sharply pointed out that the deep-seated cause for the environmental problem is the human’s arrogance and ignorance. So she asked people to correct the attitude toward the nature and reconsidered the developing path of human being.
Carson thought that because of the antibody and differentiation, pesticides would never be completely useful. On the contrary, those more and more poisonous medicines, because of the enrichment effect, would accumulate in humans’ body. It’s quite sarcastic that we hurt ourselves much badly while hurting the others. Then she analyzed many poisonous components in pesticides. Those are all unfamiliar names except DDT, such as chlordane, chloronaphthalene, compound 497, etc.
Those things really make me feel scared. We are on the top of the food chain, and it is such a perfect and fragile system. We human beings are just part of it and we depend on all of the creatures who stay on the lower positions. It is so hard and ridiculous to try to match the nature. ”Only in the state does man have a rational existence.” Every species have their value to be on this world. Then no one knows what would happened if we force them to disappear. For example, let’s imagine the food chain as a meticulously made castle built by billions of little blocks and we human beings are the top one. There might be several tiny blocks on the bottom which you think is useless and dispensable. But what would happen if we take them away? Perhaps nothing happened, and perhaps the whole castle ruined.
Destruction is always much easier than recovery, not counting those incurable ones. Humans always think that we are much cleverer than the other animals, so we become more and more conceited and firmly believe that we are the king. We didn’t see that the nature is so magical and knows how to revenge. The pay back is much more violent and cruel. We need balance and order. The nature has its own rule. Our aim is to use it and live in harmony with it. The ecosystem is so delicate that even a tiny disturbance could lead an unexpected consequence, just like the butterfly effect.
At the last chapter, some scientists came up with other ways to solve the pest problem----biotic control. There is now a strongly running tide of interest in chemical sterility. Those sterile insects are released and mate the normal ones so that they won’t have any larva and get extinct gradually. This “solution” seems to be reasonable and helpful, but thinking about it carefully, you’ll find that it is just another way to ruin the food chain castle. Not only spring, but also summer and autumn would be still and silent in the future.
It is lucky that Rachel still kept her mind clear. She didn’t agree with the way of conquering the nature. At the very end of the book, she wrote, “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.” This sentence can be regarded as the book’s theme topic which is widely quoted in all kinds of articles about environmental protection.
Carson is a great woman and fighter. When writing the book, she was suffering from huge pain of the operation for mammary cancer. After the book was published, the widely affect brought her not honor and fortune, but fierce attack from the chemical estate. She died only one year after the book’s publishing. On the spring of 1964, the great woman passed away, but Silent Spring made her voice never silent.
The 20st century was a time that technology and economy developed rapidly, especially the 40 years after Silent Spring was published. But every spring, when flowers bloom, trees sprout, and water begins to flow, we used to recall a woman and her enduring works. We opened the window, and wonder if the spring is silent today, if it will be silent tomorrow.