“Silent Spring,” the book still lauded by the left as the Bible of all things environmental, turns 50 Sept. 27, 2012. The book, written by marine biologist Rachel Carson, has been lauded by the media despite setting in motion a ban of DDT that has cost millions of lives.
The left and the media have turned Carson into a saint, complete with positive comments from former presidential candidate Al Gore and picture books for little ones and chapter books for children as they learn to read. On Sept. 20, producer Robert Chartoff, best known for his production of the ”Rocky” series, announced plans to make “Silent Spring” into a movie. Even the Library of Congress named “Silent Spring” one of the 88 books that shaped America.
That level of celebrity has been fed by an appreciative media. News outlets have called Carson a “pathbreaker” and her book a “masterpiece.” News organizations rarely mentioned the deaths from malaria resulting from the ban of DDT that came after her book. Nor did they discuss how the World Health Organization reversed that ban in 2006. WHO overturned the ban on DDT and deemed it safe to be sprayed indoors to fight against malaria.
Bryan Walsh praised Carson and her book as a masterpiece that is timeless to honor of the fiftieth anniversary in a Sept. 25 article. “That anger seems all the more hyperbolic today, when Silent Spring is regarded by most as a masterpiece, one of the most influential books of the 20th century.” Walsh wrote. He also implied that the criticism of Carson in the 1960s was mostly sexist.
Voice of America’s Zulima Palacio gushed about Cason’s legacy in a Sept. 4, 2012 piece. The article backed the environmental movement’s crusade against chemicals, saying, “Carson was a pathbreaker.” .Eliza Griswold of the George Soros-funded New American Foundation called Carson the “nun of nature” in her Sept. 21, 2012, New York Times piece.
In preparation for the book’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 1987, The Washington Post ran a column entitled “Fools for Chemicals” where Colman McCarthy argued the EPA hadn’t done enough to halt pesticide and chemical use and Carson’s supposed warnings had been ignored. “The 650th anniversary in 2612 can carry a foreword by a post-modern historian who will repeat what is being said this year: Rachel Carson wrote the truth. Then he will ask: But why did so many fools in the 20th century reject it?” he asked.
Carson is considered by most to be the foremother of today’s environmental movement. In the introduction of the 1994 edition of “Silent Spring,” Al Gore credited her as his inspiration. “Rachel Carson was one of the reasons why I became so conscious of the environment and so involved in environmental issues.”
But Carson and her book are not praised by everyone. Steve Milloy, founder and publisher of JunkScience.com, could not hide his disdain for the DDT ban that resulted from “Silent Spring.” “There are no new facts on DDT -- all the relevant science about DDT safety has been available since the 1960s. It might be easy for some to dismiss the past 43 years of eco-hysteria over DDT with a simple ‘never mind,’ except for the blood of millions of people dripping from the hands of the WWF, Greenpeace, Rachel Carson, Environmental Defense Fund, and other junk science-fueled opponents of DDT.”
A Deadly Legacy
Carson’s “Silent Spring” can be linked to a legacy of easily preventable deaths from malaria since the United States banned the use of DDT in 1972.
In “Silent Spring,” she claimed DDT was developed during World War II as an “agent of death.” John Berlau, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, explained DDT was actually used to preserve lives. He outlined in his book “Eco-Freaks” several positive examples of how DDT was used during World War II. “Over 1 million citizens of Naples were dusted in January of 1944. In places like train stations, US troops sprayed DDT on the people of Naples from their shirt collars down to their shoes. Troops would also spray DDT on themselves in Naples and many other places. By mid-February the typhus epidemic was completely licked, saving not only our troops, but millions of Italians citizens.”
DDT was used to help control malaria, as well. Bonner Cohen, senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, discussed in the book “The Green Wave” how detrimental the DDT ban had been toward the world’s fight against malaria. “By 1970, two year’s before the EPA’s ban, the death rate from malaria had dropped another two-thirds to 160 per million. Malaria had all but disappeared in the developed world and was once close to being eradicated in the rest of the world, except for impoverished Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Carson’s book also made many extreme claims in an attempt to link DDT with cancer. "The problem that concerns us here is whether any of the chemicals we are using in our attempts to control nature play a direct or indirect role as causes of cancer … man has put the vast majority of carcinogens into the environment.” However, she admitted “the evidence is circumstantial" but "nonetheless impressive,” Carson concluded that only time will tell whether DDT and other similar insecticides are carcinogens. "The full maturing of whatever seeds of malignancy have been sown by these chemicals is yet to come," she wrote.
In a Sept. 18, 2012, piece on Businessweek.com entitled “JFK Fought DDT in Rachel Carson’s Environmental Crusade,” Mike Di Paola outlined how Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” ignited a fire within President John F. Kennedy to be more environmentally conscious – which carries on today. “To this day, DDT and other pesticides are considered only a possible human carcinogen, although there is little doubt that a correlation exists between high exposures and higher rates of cancers of all kinds.”
Milloy responded to Carson’s and the environmental left’s claims of cancer, after WHO reversed the world wide DDT ban in early 2006. In “Junk Science: DDT Backlash Continues,” Milloy argued that while the link to cancer is based purely on hypothetical assumptions, that even if this link does exist, the risk might actually be worth it when the vast amount of deaths from malaria is considered. “Zimbabwe … has about 2,000 cases of breast cancer per year, affecting about 0.016 percent of the population. In contrast, about 1.5 million cases of malaria occur there annually, affecting more than 12 percent of the population,” he said.
Carson’s legacy is one of anti-progress, something the environmental left and the media have been hiding. What she wrote in “Silent Spring” 50 years ago especially rings true for the environmental movement today. “The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress at great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road – the one 'less traveled by' – offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth."