3/14/2023 0 Comments
Rachel was first alerted to the detrimental effects of DDT while working for the government after World War II. Reports of massive fish kills at processing plants and government research facilities after widespread spraying of DDT trickled into her office at the Fish and Wildlife Service. She took note. DDT was popular with the U.S. government. It was credited for saving thousands of servicemen from getting sick while serving overseas where malaria was still a threat. After the war it was used heavily in areas to kill insects that threatened crops, forests, and urban trees. Local governments frequently blanketed whole neighborhoods with DDT to prevent Dutch Elm disease. As we know now, it didn't work. But the spraying did alarm bird enthusiasts who noticed dead robins and other songbirds blanketing the grounds after a spray.
Rachel began writing about her concerns which gained the attention of people who agreed with her. They wrote her letters, letting her know about incidents in their neighborhoods. Beekeepers lost entire hives, pond owners found dead fish floating to the surface, birds collapsed at feeders, writhing in pain on the ground. She filed these anecdotes away, determined to spend more time researching the cause and effect of mass spraying of these chemicals and the consequences to wildlife, and possibly, humans.
After years of collecting data from government reports, newspapers, and scientific experts, she published serialized versions of her work in The New Yorker in 1962. And all hell broke loose with the chemical industry. This was before her seminal work on the topic - Silent Spring was published.
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