lesson12 A Friend of the Environment
1.A little girl tramping around in the Pennsylvania woods near her home feels close to the birds and plants and animals.She is at ease with them.They are,in a way,her close friend.The little girl,like many people,feels that these wonders of Nature are precious and permanent.
2.Rachel Carson continued to feel that way for much of her life.“It was pleasant to believe，”she wrote later,“that much of Nature was forever beyond the tampering reach of man.He might cut down the forests and dam the steams,but the clouds and rain and the stream of life were God's.I t was comforing to support that the steam of life would flow on through time in whatever course God had given it——without interference by one of the drops in that stream——man.
Silent Spring——a Warning to Mankind
3.But she found out that she was wrong.As a scientist，she learned with sadness that little in Nature is truly beyond the “tampering reach of man.”Then,angrily aware of the harsh facts concerning the present and future dangers to the environment,she used her great skills as a writer to sould a startling warning to mankind.Silent Spring,published in 1962, showed quite clearly that man was endangering himself and everything else on this planet by his indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides.As her title suggests,Miss Carson was saying that there might come a springtime that would indeed be silent.It would be silent because the birds,as well as the creatures,and plants would have been destroyed by the man-made poisons used to kill crop-threatening insects.
4.When she was that little girl in Pennsylvania,Rachel Carson never would have believed that years later she would write a scientific book that would stir up so much controversy.The book created the enthusiasm for “protecting the environment” that has become so commonplace today.Because she had always been such an avid and appreciative reader, her dream when she started college was to become an imaginative writer.She wanted to be one perhaps like English poet John Masefield.His fine words had fired her imagination about the sea,which she had never seen，When she was a sophomore,though,she took a couse in biology.It was there she discovered the wonder and excitement of scientific study of those animals she had learned to know and admire as a child tramping through the woods.
5.After finishing college,she did research and taught in various universities and goverment agencies.At the same time,she did indeed become acquainted with the sea that Masefield had written about.She learned the
“gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife.” Like any good scientist,she took extensive notes about her studies,whether her focus of the moment was a crab in Chesapeake Bay or a turtle in the Caribbean. Ultimately she wrote about the sea.She wrote about it not only in formal academic reports but also in a book that informed and thrilled laymen around the world.The Sea Around Us,published in 1951,has been translated into thirty languages and was on the best-seller list for more then eighty consecutive weeks.Rachel Carson,a scientist with the magic touch of a poet,shared her love of the ocean and its creatures with all mankind.Her stytle was clear and lively,informative but not preachy,and for most readers truly exhilarating.Although the oceans may cover seven-tenths of the earth's surface,few of us know much about them.The Sea Around Us was a delightful antidote to our ignorance.
Her Concern over Pesticides
6.In the decade after the publication of The Sea Around Us she continued with her research and writing.There were other books and numerous magazine articles.Most of them dealt with the major love of her life——the sea. However, because she was a true scientist and an aware human being,she knew that everything on this planet is connected to everything else.Thus,she became incresingly alarmed by the development and use of DDT and other pesticides of its type.These chemicals,she knew,do not break down in the soil.Instead,they tend to be endlessly recycled in the food chains on which birds and animals and man himself are completely dependent.
7.One might guess that at this time Carson the reader might have reminded Carson the scientist of some passages in Shakespeare's most famous play.Prince Hamlet used revoltingly grisly images in vicious baiting of his hated uncle when he told him that in nature's food chian,the worm is King.We fatten other creatures so that they can feed us,and we fatten ourselves to ultimately feed maggots.The worms eat the king and the beggar alike；they are simply two dishes but the same meal for the worm.The worm that has eaten the king may be used by a man （who could be a beggar） for fishing, and he in turn,eats the fish that ate the worm.In this way,a king can pass through the guts of beggar.
8.Rachel Carson knew of this poisonous cycle.And she knew now,as her own observations were confirmed by fellow scientist all over the country,that this “worm” now carried a heavy concentration of poison.It could be passed on th fish,to other animals,to their food supply,and to men and women and children throughout the earth.In spite of fierce opposition from the chemical industry,from powerful government agencies,and from farmer organizations,she persisted in her research and writing.Then in 1962 she published Silent Spring.The book exploded into the public consciousness.It received great praise from some,great criticism from others.The little girl from the Pennsylvania woods,now approaching middle age,had fired a major salvo in the battle for the environment.