Sunday, January 27, 2013

Book Review: Silent Spring at 50

Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson (Hardcover) $25.95, By Roger Meiners, Pierre Desrochers, and Andrew Morriss

This book is a "must read" for the pesticide manufacturing, distribution and application professionals ,and is the perfect book for those with an interest in the EPA and the regulatory nightmare that has been created by Silent Spring, Carson, the green movement and those who actually created the foundational logic and views of modern environmental history, because the ban on DDT was foundational to this movement.
This book will force anyone who really wants to search out the truth to think about the issues.  It also helps to know about the foundational thinkers and early writers that influenced Carson. 
I have to say this is the strangest book I have ever read on this subject.  The primary writers enlisted the efforts of a number of people who wrote with different styles and philosophies.  That can be a bit of a turn off, but in order to really appreciate what's happening in this book it is important to get past that and read this book to its conclusion.  I feel this book is that important.  
I will say this though.  The history of pesticide regulation goes back to 1910, and you will find that the manufacturers will not come out of this looking like anything except Machiavellian in their attempt to pass laws and regulations to prevent smaller companies from cutting into their margins, no matter how they attempt to frame their views.  A case of not seeing the long term consequences of unleashing the regulatory hounds.    
There is one point that some may find disturbing, and that is the issue of egg shell thinning where in Larry Katzenstein’s chapter he says that “Virtually everyone now agrees that DDT can harm certain bird species: its magnification up the food chain does cause thinning to occur in the eggs of raptors (including the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon, and the osprey), resulting in a decline in the number of those birds."  That's inaccurate, but the rest of the chapter is very well done, and one I enjoyed.  He also provides wonderful information on what is the primary legacy of Silent Spring imposed on the world today; The Precautionary Principle.  As I said, there are different writing styles and philosophies presented including the first chapter from a self described activist.  There is one thing they all agree on.  Silent Spring is not a scientific publication and its author was not a scientist. 
As I have said, in many ways it was the strangest book on this subject I have ever read, but also the one most thought provoking because of its depth.  It kind of reminds me of working a crossword puzzle.  You have to fit the pieces together, and this book forces you to think a bit differently, and in my opinion more effectively.
Although I underlined and highlighted heavily while reading, my regret is that I didn’t take side notes and create an extra index for easier reference.  This is a book to be studied and I may have to read it again to get the full impact. 
This book isn’t just for scholars!  It is a must read book for all those involved in any chemical industry and for those who stand against the irrational, misanthropic and morally defective green movement.   

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