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Silent Spring.docx

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University of Guelph
HIST 2250
Mary Ann Cyphers- Reiche

Silent Spring – Elixirs of Death  Rachel Carson - Less than 2 decades of use, now no natural elements w/o contamination - B/c of rise in production of man-made/synthetic chemicals w insecticidal properties - WWII chemical warfare agents lethal to insects – huge biological potency (poison but also enter body processes) o Destroy enzyme that protects body from harm, blocks oxidation processes via which body receives energy, prevent normal organ functioning, may lead to malignancy - Old material still around – arsenic  tasteless therefore used as poison - Most insecticides in 2 large groups of chemicals – both built on basis of carbon atoms (building blocks of living world and therefore “organic”) 1. DDT: “chlorinated hydrocarbons” 2. Malthion OR parathion; “organic phosphorus insecticides” o Carbon atoms can infinitely unite w e/o o Protein molecule has carbon atom as its base (as w fat, enzymes etc) and non living things Chlorinated Hydrocarbons - DDT  o synthesized 1874, properties realized 1939- became insecticide (discoverer won Nobel Prize) o So widely used that thought harmless, wartime used to fight lice – in powder form not readily absorbed into skin , dissolved in oil (usually is) it is toxic o Once in body stores in organs rich in fatty substances (b/c DDT fat soluble), storage begins small (stuff on food) and continues to high levels, fatty storage depots act as biological magnifiers o Don't agree on how much DDT can be stored in the body, passed in food chain (& mother to offspring) o FDA declared 1950s It was a dangerous chemical - Chlordane  similar to DDT but persistent in soil & food & surfaces, can be absorbed via any portal (even skin), accumulate, 1950s described as one of most toxic insecticides, symptoms can manifest later - Heptachlor  constituent of chlordane, highly stored in fat, can change into distinct substance “heptachlor epoxide” (happens in soil and plant/animal tissues) - Chlorinated napthalenes  mid 1930s, special group of hydrocarbons, found to cause hepatitis o Dieldrin  can be 40x more toxic than DDT, strikes quickly, effects nervous system, recover slowly, long residues make it a popular insecticide, deposits lay dormant & flare up when body stressed o Aldrin  sterility o Endrin  most toxic, v similar to dieldrin Alkyl or Organic Phosphates - Poisons ppl in contact w it, were used for war originally 1930s, destroy enzymes performing bodily functions, target nervous system, body becomes uncoordinated - Parathion  most powerful/dangerous/widely used, effects v fast, decomposed fast (residues less often) - Malathion  least toxic of the group, mammalian liver renders it mostly harmless b/c of an enzyme but if the enzyme damaged/destroyed poison has its full effect, combination can worsen effects “potentiated” Systemic Permeate all tissues and make toxic, applied to seeds (soak or coat combined w carbon) extends their effects into the following generation & produce poisonous seedlings Dinitro  metabolic stimulant Pentachlororphenol  weed killer & insecticide From Conservation to Environmentalism – An Overview of the Transition Period, 1920-1960 - Reader US, 1920-1960 th th - Late 19 and early 20 cent conservation movement, environmental movement 1960s – phases of concern over humans relations w the enviro - Conservation important after WWI and during the Depression 1930s - National Forest Service got increase in funding from congress for research & management, National Park Service had an increase in demand - Herbert Hoover (Secretary of Commerce then President) – important conservationist before Roosevelt elected o Interested in formulating resource policies & management- believed important to economic success o Believed scientific/tech research important for policy& planning decisions – supported by congress 1920s – important to natural resource decisions made when Roosevelt was president o Didn’t agree w fed govt regulating natural resources but rather volunteerism, decentralization w/I the fed bureaucracy and cooperation w individual states & private industry – unable to fill hopes o Led way for Roosevelt- admin known for commitment to conservation during Depression & Dust Bowl - Roosevelt o Interested in conservation before president (1933), senate NY 1911 conserved states natural resources & develop water power o Governor b/w 1929-1933 supported reforestation of marginal land & manage for production (also provide work for poor) – led by Progressive era & interest in govt directed regional planning of landscapes o Program Civilian Conservation Corps 1922 provide work and rejuvenate local economies, repair enviro o Soil Conservation Service 1935 o Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) 1933 – halt soil erosion/flooding & combat persistent poverty by promoting economic devt (controversial b/c manipulated enviro & emphasized centralized federal planning) - pro created opportunities & eliminated malaria o laid groundwork for post WWII American environmentalism, ecological principles became more widespread 1930s - 1936 National Wildlife Federation promote public education & conservation Ecological and Ethical Concerns Aldo Leopold - 1920s/30s advocate wilderness preservation, wildlife management and promoted scientifically based ecological principles – paired w an ethical & aesthetic approach - 1920s established first national forest-wilderness system & policy of preservation in US national forests & helped found the Wilderness Society - Focused in 1930s on humankinds responsibility to the natural world - Concern w how can live on land w/o spoiling it, opposed economics for determining land use - Emphasized complex interrelationships & interdependence of organisms & their enviro, worked to make community aware of its dependence on land & responsibility to maintain the natural world - Understand not above natural world but a part of it,, dependent on, responsible for maintaining - Land ethic: humans from conqueror of land community to member of it, respect for members & community Osborn & Vogt - After destruction of WWII became concerned w global enviro problems - Vogt and Osborn American writers warned of dangers of rapidly expanding world popns & impact on enviro & resources - Vogt spent time in L. America, surveyed resources and social and economic conditions, concerned w resource exploitation, overpopn, and govts lack of interest in the issues - Called for reorientation of values and recognition of human dependence on nature and understanding earths limitations - Osborn examine extent overshooting capacity of resource bases was a factor in decline of previous civilizations Carson - Carson’s Silent Spring - Questioned values animating western nations after WWII, shaped mood of protest, challenges assumptions of industrial-military complex that won war/shaped post-war society, questioned role of science & emphasis on continual growth & exploitation of resources - During war carbon-based synthetic chemicals widespread, after war pesticide industry grew - Late 1950s these pesticides replaced all others, agrochemical industrial complex created as agri & chemical industries became more interconnected - Govts encouraged farmers to increase agri productivity and farmers saw pesticides as cost & labour saving way of meeting expectations - Late 1950s reports of impacts on workers & wildlife surfacing – worse than realized - Side effects of pollution on wildlife and on human health & well-being - Interconnectedness of all life, complexity of natural world, and necessity of understanding & respecting this - Criticized chemical industry & desire to turn profit & public policies/officials promoting the widespread use of these chemicals without understanding the implications of such - Proposed alternatives Reader – Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency  Hays th - Conservation movement contributed to political drama of the 20 cent - Moral struggle b/w the virtuous “people” and evil “interests” - Conservation a scientific movement, role in history arises from implications of science & tech in modern society - Theodore Roosevelt conservation movement – rational planning to promote efficient devt & use of natural resources - Political implications of conservation came from political implications of applied science not conflict over distrib of wealth – who decide goals etc.?? believed technicians not legislators should (ex. foresters decide annual cut) o Conflict b/w resource users shouldn’t be dealt w via normal political processes - Dreamed of political system guided by ideal of efficiency & dominated by technicians who could determine how best to achieve it - Conservation historians view in public interest The Conservation Movement and the Progressive Tradition - apply tech/science principles to resource devt, goals required public management, needed new admin methods Theodore Roosevelt and the Conservation Movement - Believed social & economic problems should be solved not boy power politics but experts who undertake scientific investigations and can devise workable solutions - Faith in applied science Conservation and the Grass Roots - Experts using tech and scientific methods should decide all matters of devt and utilization of resources, all problems of allocation of funds - Federal land management agencies should resolve land-use diffs - Efficiency lay in a rational/scientific method of making basic tech decisions via a single central authority o Resource users disagreed – each group found their interest most important - Roosevelt conservation leaders had difficulty in adjusting the conflicting outlooks – emphasized flow of authority from top down and minimized political importance of institutions which reflected the organized sentiment of local communities – took into account grass roots interests only to facilitate admin and prevent their decisions from being resented st - 1 American conservation movement experimented w application of new tech to resource management – required centralized and coordinated decisions, but conflicted w American political institutions drawing vitality from meeting local needs - Problem w centralizing tendencies of effective economic org & decentralizing forces inherent in geo interests Changing Environment, Changing Times  Myers - POP found in high concentration in wildlife & humans in Canadian North, alarm in Natives - 1988 discovered PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in breast milk - By-products from N Europe, Asia, S. America, S N America found The People, Wildlife, and Resources of Canada’s North - 60% Aboriginal popn, arctic wildlife sustains the popn (most important economic activity) - Traditional economy & lifestyle critical to their survival - Distinct economic landscape from the rest of Canada – primary economic forces: govt, mineral resources, oil & gas, tourism, traditional pursuits o Development projects generating large incomes driven by global pressures & is vulnerable is disruptive in marginal economies Early Industrial Development - Exploration early 1930s, 1950s/60s sought to develop, faced industrial activity - Diefenbaker “Roads to Resources” policy 1858 to open north to hydroelectric projects, mineral devt, oil & gas - Oil devt excitement b/w 1960s-1086 (oil prices dropped) – natives concerned w impacts – new tech/processes to protect Concerns about the Impacts of Development - Primary concern impact
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