“We have met the enemy and he is us.” — Pogo (cartoon character created by Walt Kelly)
Because of the horror of the bombings at the Boston Marathon and the ricin-laden letter sent to President Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., I worry that the nation’s attention will be diverted from the importance of Earth Day, which is this coming Monday. Earth Day kicks off a week during which the effects of environmental degradation are highlighted, along with an extensive list of changes that we can make to move toward a sustainable future.
Concerns about the damage we’ve done to our ecosystem were probably brought to the attention of the general public by Rachel Carson when she published “Silent Spring” in 1962. It was the first book about environmental problems to be selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club and to make it onto the New York Times best-seller list.
In the book, Carson argued that uncontrolled use of pesticides was killing not only insects and animals, but also human beings. She documented how the aerial spraying of DDT was killing birds that fed on poisoned insects. The title that she chose for her work was inspired by a line from “La Belle Dame sans Merci” by the poet John Keats: “The sedge is wither’d from the lake and no birds sing.” Hence, without singing birds, we would have a “silent spring.”...