“Silent Spring”

by | 30 Sep 2020 | Climate – Environment

The National Federation of Hunters, on its institutional site, unsurprisingly prides itself on “promoting hunting”, but also on “defending rurality” (which does not mean much, but it can’t hurt), and “preserve biodiversity”.

I’m not sure what the turtledoves think about it: globally threatened species and placed on the red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), their “harvest” (I love the terminology) was authorized in France until a very recent decision by the Council of State (September 10).

While learning about damage to birds, I especially invite you to re-read an already somewhat old book, Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. It was 1962 (a very good year in many ways). “That year,” as someone later sang it, the New Yorker published large excerpts from it in four special consecutive issues.

The book remained on the New York Times bestseller list for several weeks and raised public awareness of the problems associated with pesticides and their deleterious effect on birds.

In a unique style, quite poetic in a way (the title is moreover borrowed from a poem by John Keats), Rachel Carson demonstrated that DDT was the cause of finer eggshells in birds, and caused increased mortality as well as reproductive problems.

She also accused the chemical industry of that time of practicing disinformation and the public authorities of responding to the expectations of the chemical industry without questioning itself.

Any resemblance to the present day would of course be completely fortuitous!

Note, the book contributed to the ban on the DDT pesticide in the United States in 1972.

The book was edited in 2009 in France by Wildproject, prefaced by Al Gore, and republished several times since. It appears in numerous rankings of the best non-fiction literary works of the 20th century. It was even declared one of the 25 greatest books of all time by the publisher of Discover Magazine.

To read by the fireside, back from hunting or not …

Iconography: Turtle dove, website of the Association for the Protection of Wild Animals (ASPAS)