Analysis of The Problem of Pollution in Silent Spring by Rachel Carson



From the 1930s to the conclusion of the Civil War, the use of chemical toxicants began to be rigorously widespread. The motive for these harmful chemicals was to mainly restrain insects, malaria, typhus, body lice, and bubonic plague. In the chapter “The Obligation to Endure” included in the best-selling and pragmatic book titled Silent Spring, best-selling author, biologist, conservationist, and zoologist Rachel Carson confronts the American people for being oblivious to the dangers of chemical pesticides, more particularly DDT. She publicizes the severe consequences concerning the use of toxic chemicals by contrasting the past life of the environment to the impoverished present and also differs from the divine nature to the pernicious man to allow her readers to recognize the toxicity that the chemicals have generated the world to recklessly convert into. Additionally, she incorporates significant use of rhetorical questions to make her readers apprehensively speculate how individuals are not admitting and acting out against the use of molesting pesticides. The purpose of Carson’s chapter is to awaken the American public to the uncertainties of the lethal materials and to make them understand that they need to take defensive measures in order to no longer abuse the atmosphere that provides them with life before it is too late.

In order to directly present the unfortunate effects that pesticides have had on both the environment and the earth, Carson must first contrast how the history of the harmonious nature has developed due to terminating and synthetic pesticides, which will end up causing an insolvent problem for the earth. Carson incorporates examples of the previous land in order to support her claim that the use of pesticides will eventually end up ruining not only the insects but also human beings. Carson illustrates nature before the application of chemicals by describing that the past age of life included “insects inhabiting the earth- a group of extraordinarily varied and adaptable beings.” Carson adds the significance of the insects before the chemical usage to enable her readers to concede that before pesticides, the insects were the ones who were populating the earth before humans. Carson develops this example to make readers apprehend that life was at peace and harmonious until the use of chemicals demolished the environment. Carson then differentiates the past life to the result of the damaging elements by noting that the chemicals travel inexplicably “by underground streams until they emerge and… combine into new forms that kill vegetation, sicken cattle, and work unknown harm on those who drink from once pure wells.” Carson demonstrates that even though the chemicals are meant to harm only insects, they have high capabilities to go above and inflict more major living creatures that are significant in the world of nature. Carson distinguishes between both versions of nature to enable readers to acknowledge that they are not recognizing the abuses that the chemicals are causing environmental life to go through. Moreover, she desires that her readers notice that this is not a dilemma that will fix itself, but rather it is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed immediately before natural life gets more critical and there will be nothing that will restore it.

Having already revealed the horrid truth of what chemical pesticides have transformed the earth into, Carson then progresses to the use of rhetorical questions to make her audience silently contemplate how they are being a negative influence on the horrid ways that the earth is being transformed. Carson implements her audience to reflect by questioning to them that “how could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind?” Carson questions her audience this way by having the audience feel guilty about their actions since they are using harmful chemicals. The American people will feel condemned considering that they intended on feeling free of insects but end up making matters more severe by affecting the whole atmosphere and the people themselves. Additionally, Carson when she questions this to the readers, it is also a way to make them feel improper since she used common sense to make readers feel ignorant of the consequences that have occurred after the use of chemicals. Carson challenges this question to ultimately inspire the audience to become conscious of what they are causing and to make them gain insight into what they are not informed about. Also, she further interrogates the audience by declaring that “can anyone believe that it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life?” Carson questions the audience this way to awaken her readers about the inappropriate chemicals.