Rachel Carson of Silent Spring

DATELINE: DDT & Radiation Conjoin

  Carson Takes Them ON!

American Experience presented another brilliant and important biography a few years ago: on Rachel Louise Carson, who saw the horror and dangers of DDT in the years before World War II.

A reclusivse, scholarly woman years ahead of the curve, she started off by calling herself R.L. Carson because she thought a genderless male would be received better in a science field as writer.

She was unable to complete her Ph.D. in biology, owing to family responsibilities, and also suffered a set-back when Reader’s Digestrejected her warning about the poisonous chemical, DDT. After all, killing mosquitos and ticks was more important than any health issue.

Carson was horrified when the US government sprayed DDT down the pants of Italians after the war to kill lice. Some even sprayed it on their food to prove it could be digested.

She also began to see a parallel to radiation poisoning from fall-out after H-bomb testing. Yet, a better world through chemistry was America’s mantra. You even had Nixon and Kennedy eating tainted cranberries during the 1960 campaign to show how business owned government.

The lonely woman who lived mostly an internal life without close friends, loved the ocean, lived on the shores of Maine and worked at Woods Hole. She managed to place two best-sellers at the same time on theTimes best-seller list.

Silent Spring was not initially well-received: perhaps it was American hubris, or disdain for scholarly women, but Carson was dedicated and knew what she had to warn the world.

In one of the first corporate targets, every major chemical company went after her with one of the earliest attacks by media publicity. Their unfair and bizarre defense of pesticides is today horrifying.

Rachel Carson still is the patron saint of climate abuse—and still is hated by the political money-grubbers.

 

 

 

 

 

Chernobyl: Name of Infamy

DATELINE: Episode Starts  Off with Bang!

jared harris Jared Harris, Chain-smoking Star

If you had no historical or geographic knowledge of Chernobyl, you might think it was located outside of Liverpool, simply based on the accents of the actors in all the key roles. HBO, not History Channel, has taken on the 30-year old horror of history.

The main character, a scapegoat played by Jared Harris, hangs himself in the opening minutes of the mini-series. It’s a Vertigo moment in a horror story.

If you think that the dour and drab social world of 1986 is strictly limited to the Soviet Union and its failed policies and diminished treatment of the individual, you might be partially right. The onerous opening tones signal the problem with lies.

Hearing enough of them makes you give up on truth. That was true in Chernobyl in 1986 or the White House in 2020.

The HBO series has been hailed for its verisimilitude: every small detail seems apt and metaphorical. It’s only the big details that make one queasy.

The horror of radiation poison and radiation burns are brought to ugly effect while leaders and small-time bureaucrats deny, deny, deny, that there is a melt-down in their future.

We suspect idiocy was never meant to be limited to the Soviet government. Delays and misinformation might be handled as much the same in the United States. Containing the problem was a better solution than saving the public.

The blame game in the Soviet Union in 1986 was even as deadly as Germany in 1944 or under Stalin around the same time.

Episode 1 is hideous for all its creepy mortality whose name no one dares to speak. Only when everyone is throwing up their guts and birds fall from the sky do we realize that lies are only tiny part of a melt-down.