Silent Spring

By Jim Carey

Listen to President Obama in his State of the Union address: “Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You will be pretty lonely because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.” Sitting in that same chamber was James Mountain “Jim” Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma and the chair of the United States Senate Committee on the Environment. He calls climate change a “hoax”!

Film
Occupy SMA presents:
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring
Mon, Jan 25, 1pm
Quinta Loreto Hotel
Loreto 15
Free

Sadly, these climate deniers have been around since the start of the environmental movement. In 1962, the New Yorker magazine serialized and the Houghton Mifflin Company published biologist Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which warned of the dangers of unfettered use of pesticides and herbicides. The book set off a firestorm of negative and positive reaction that ultimately resulted in the outlawing of the deadly, but widely used, insecticide DDT. The poison was not only killing bugs, but birds and other animals up the food chain. Originally telecast on the award­-winning PBS series The American Experience, this documentary examines how Carson’s ecological warnings made enemies and led to her writings being censored by publications that feared losing the advertising dollars of giant corporations earning millions from herbicides and insecticides.

Carson’s book rightly galvanized Americans to pay attention to the world around them and helped create what has been called “the environmental movement.” Highlights include film footage, photographs, and interviews with environmentalists and historians. Years later, P.R. firms for Big Business accused Carson of causing millions of deaths in Africa due to restrictions on DDT. Deconstructing this deception of corporate PR agents, the journal Extra! (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) detailed how the mosquito problem in Africa was actually caused by the use of pesticides that killed so many insects and bats and birds and reptiles that eat mosquitos. They pointed out that other countries reduced malaria rates through approaches like reintroducing natural mosquito predators and making sure sources of standing water, like old tires, were kept dry.

With the global cancer epidemic, the last thing the world needs is more toxic substances poured onto the earth. It’s remarkable how many chemicals have been banned by the European Union, while the pressure groups of Big Business have continued putting people of the US and the Global South at risk. Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont see their fiduciary responsibility to increase sales as one that trumps the health of the planet and the lives of its inhabitants. The citizens of the world have a moral obligation to resist these threats to their health and the health of their children and non­human species. This film about Carson provides a wonderful introduction to this courageous person who changed the consciousness of the world. We need to be like her. Join our discussion on Monday. Our events are free.

 

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