Rachel Carson’s honor defended

June 25, 2007

Bug Girl sleuthed around a bit, and found information from official sources that really demonstrates the critics of Rachel Carson are using Gillette Foamy to make us think “mad dog!”

DDT concentration in the food chain - USFWS

Chart from US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) illustrates biomagnification, by which a minuscule dose of DDT to small plankton gets magnified a few million times by the time the top predators in the food chain get it.

So the evidence continues to pile up that Rachel Carson was simply a fine writer, a good scientist, and correct about DDT’s dangers.

Check out the Fish and Wildlife Service’s site, here; notice especially their structure of the site, to dispel the falsehoods.

FWS quotes Carson on DDT use:

In Audubon magazine she wrote, “We do not ask that all chemicals be abandoned. We ask moderation. We ask the use of other methods less harmful to our environment” (4). Countering claims that she was advocating a back-to-nature philosophy, she said, “We must have insect control. I do not favor turning nature over to insects. I favor the sparing, selective and intelligent use of chemicals. It is the indiscriminate, blanket spraying that I oppose” (5).

Evidence mounts that claims against Rachel Carson are sheer calumny. While the political motivations of this smear campaign are not clear, we don’t need to know for certain who is telling lies about a great American hero, or why. As Americans, as concerned citizens, as teachers and parents — as patriots — we only need to know that the claims against Rachel Carson are false.

And now it is our duty to call on Oklahoma’s Sen. Tom Coburn to stop the campaign against Carson. Coburn is the point man in the smear campaign right now: He has put a committee hold on the well-intentioned, justified bill to name a post office in her hometown after Rachel Carson. It is time for Tom Coburn to stand up and do the right thing for a great American. Sen. Coburn needs to lift his committee hold and allow committee action on this minor honor.

Other sources of note:

Bruce Watson, “Sounding the Alarm,” Smithsonian Magazine, September 2002. (Watson, Bruce. Sounding the alarm. Smithsonian, v. 33, Sept. 2002: 115-117.   AS30.S6)

“The Berry and the Poison,” about methyl bromide and its ban, Smithsonian Magazine, December 1997.

Whither history?

June 25, 2007

Very few high school students say they want to grow up to be historians. As a profession, we ignore history.

Still, a few do. More seriously, what happens in the high school class depends a lot on what is being done by professional historians. What is that?

Historian Keith Thomas wrote a long piece about where history is headed for The Times of London, in October 2006. It even has hints about it of how to make history more intrigueing in high school. Go see. Read the rest of this entry »

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