The Heedless Pace of Man“ Have we fallen into a mesmerized state that makes us accept as inevitable that which inferior, is detrimental, as though having lost the will or the vision to demand that which is good?” (Carson, 1962) Rachel Carson was a highly educated woman, with a masters degree in zoology and a position as the editor-in-chief for the U. S Bureau of Fisheries. Carson published her most famous work, Silent Spring, in 1962 from which “ The Obligation to Endure” was drawn.
Carson’s text was written to enlighten all of humanity on the detrimental harm of pesticides on earth. Carson lived in an interesting time, being a part of the Great Depression, World War II, and a plethora of uneducated mistakes made by those around her. Carson would be considered “ ahead of her time,” being aware of the mistakes we’re causing to ourselves and the environment. Carson suggests that pesticides made to kill off bugs and protect crops may fall victim to Darwinism.
Insects were known to adapt genetically and Carson feared that insects would adapt to not only pesticides, but also vaccines, creating a “ chemical war that will never be won.” Carson takes the emotional and ethical appeal in her text, stating “ chemicals pass mysteriously by underground streams until they emerge, and through the alchemy of air and sunlight, combine into new forms that kill vegetation, sicken cattle, and work unknown harm on those who drink from once pure wells.” Carson expresses that mankind can not only become extinct because of nuclear war, but now because of our insecticides. Carson believes that nuclear war is no longer the central threat to human existence and that we must organize a solution to our mindless pesticide spraying, or else we pose harm on future generations. Man and the environment are in a never ending cycle: we want to inhabit natural environments, grow our food, spray our poison, move on, and then repeat this vicious cycle on a clean environment. This text addresses how our insecticides are not only killing off species of “ bad” insects, but also of “ good” insects, such as bees.
Carson specifically targets anyone that is concerned with the environment; however, it also seems that she was using her text to take aim at large corporations and the government – “ an era dominated by industry, in which the right to make a dollar at whatever cost is seldom challenged.” Furthermore, “ when the public protests, confronted with some obvious evidence of damaging results of pesticide applications, it is fed little tranquilizing pills of half truth.” While Carson supports her text with facts and research and she remains unbiased throughout her text; she concludes by stating she doesn’t wish for us to get rid of pesticides completely, but for us to be aware of what harm we’re actually causing. Carson reinforces this thought of us using pesticides when it comes to war or in situations of “ poverty and deprivation,” when control over disease becomes crucial. I agree with Carson when she says that we have fallen into a mesmerized state, even today many people turn a blind eye to the effects of mankind on the environment. Carson leaves her readers well informed, using scientific facts, emotion, and experience to create a solid argument. This text was published in 1962 and written by a woman.
I believe publishing this took bravery, especially on a topic that is still controversial today. Thanks to the bravery and strength of Carson, the usage of DDT, a synthetic pesticide, was banned in the United States. Without this text, the world would be a much different place today. Carson was a humanitarian, concerned with the environment and seeking to leave the world a better place for future generations.
“ The Obligation to Endure” could teach all of us in modern society a lesson to be more mindful of things we do everyday and make sure we are not causing more harm than good.
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