Chapter 2 "The Obligation to Endure" Summary
Throughout earth's history, living things have interacted with their environment but not changed it. In fact, the environment has often played an important role in forming the different kinds of life - plants and animals specifically adapted to live in whatever their environments are. Only human beings have gained the ability to reverse the roles and actually change the environment they live in, and this power has become disturbingly great only over the past 25 years (the book was first published in 1962). Now humanity has irreversibly polluted the earth's air, water, and animal life (including human life). The combination of radiation (released through nuclear explosions) and toxic chemicals (purposely distributed as insecticides, herbicides, etc.) produces chemical deposits in the earth, water, and living tissues of everything on earth. Life, which took hundreds of millions...
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Silent Spring Summary
In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson definitively proves that pesticides do more harm than good. She details how ineffective most pesticides are, how toxic they've become, and how they've managed to radically alter entire ecosystems by killing off animals like robins and eagles.
Carson begins by noting that attempts to improve the efficiency of pesticides have merely resulted in their becoming even more toxic. As those toxins move up the food chain, they increase in potency to the point of killing many animals, including eagles.
Carson details how pesticides are bad for humans. The toxins are stored in fat, where they linger in the system, causing many problems, including diseases like cancer.
- At the end of the book, Carson offers up several safe, natural methods that could replace pesticides, arguing that these methods could only improve modern agriculture.
(Nonfiction Classics for Students)
Carson's survey of the research on pesticides opens in a most unscientific fashion with a tale about an American...
(The entire section is 1640 words.)