60 Years Later, Rachel Carson’s Legacy

For biologist Rachel Carson (1907-1964), this book was primarily an indictment of the destructive power of pesticides on birds: the title “Silence” Back to To a world where songbirds have disappeared. But the destructive potential of pollution, beyond pesticides and beyond birds – on ecosystems in general – has been a wake-up call. which had immediate political repercussions. We owe him the ban of the pesticide DDT in the United States in 1972, and the first steps toward legalization: The US Environmental Protection Agency, and in Quebec, Bureau d’audiences sur l’environnement, was born in the 1970s.

And we’d start from afar: back in 1962, “protecting ecosystems” wasn’t part of the vocabulary. Even the word “pollution” has remained, for the majority of the population, an abstract concept: how can we have an impact, on such a huge land?

However, 60 years later, the birds are still in more decline than ever before. according to study From Cornell University published in 2019, 29% of those in North America have disappeared since 1970. And it’s clear that it’s not just about birds: according to 2019 estimate IPBES (Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), more than 40% of amphibian species and a third of marine mammals are threatened with extinction.

However, This month’s science historian Naomi Oreskes notesIt wasn’t all bleak on this 60th anniversary: ​​In US wetlands, bird populations could have increased by 13%. A testimony in her eyes as a historian that consciousness still has positive effects: because what distinguishes wetlands from other environments is that “they have long been more specifically protected from excessive industrial activities”. Some laws take them under their wing because of their value in terms of biodiversity. Others are because they are important for navigation, fisheries, or flood control. How some solutions to the biodiversity crisis, when really applied, show their usefulness.

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It would take more to avoid Rachel Carson’s pessimistic prognosis, but the approaching 60th birthday has already begun, here And Theto allow a new call to Reduce pollutants In the environment, to an increase in protected areas or to mobilize citizens. Another historian, Kathryn Whitlock, Otherwise sees a legacy of Rachel Carson In the many young women who in recent years have taken the lead in movements against the climate crisis, starting with Greta Thunberg. ” Like [le message] In Greta, Rachel’s meeting was “disturbing” to the community at the time.

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