This week Silent Spring will turn 50.After noting the poor science underlying Carson's work, the author goes on to note:
Rachel Carson’s jeremiad against pesticides is credited by many as launching the modern environmentalist movement, and the author, who died in 1964, is being widely lauded for her efforts. "She was the very first person to knock some of the shine off of modernity," says environmentalist Bill McKibben in a New York Times Magazine article from this past Sunday.
* * *
In Silent Spring, Carson crafted a passionate denunciation of modern technology that drives environmentalist ideology today. At its heart is this belief: Nature is beneficent, stable, and even a source of moral good; humanity is arrogant, heedless, and often the source of moral evil. Rachel Carson, more than any other person, is responsible for the politicized science that afflicts our public policy debates today.
The first notable triumph of environmentalism occurred in 1972. Ten years after Silent Spring, William Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the barely two year-old Environmental Protection Agency, banned DDT, overruling an administrative law judge's fact finding after months of scientific testimony that "DDT is not a safety hazard to man when used as directed" and that its benefits outweighed its costs. As part of the justification, Ruckelshaus noted in his decision, "Public concern over the widespread use of pesticides was stirred by Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring."Although only tangentially discussed in the article is the important point that Carson ascribed "morality" to something inherently "amoral"--nature itself. (Obviously, Carson had never actually had to live under primitive conditions, or she would not have viewed nature as anything other than hostile and cruel). She essentially created a modern "mother nature" competitor to our affections and worship. She was an anti-Christ.
* * *
Carson described the choice humanity faced as a fork in the road to the future. "The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress at great speed, but at its end lies disaster," she declared. "The other fork of the road – the one 'less traveled by' – offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth." This kind of apocalyptic rhetoric is now standard in today's policy debates. In any case, the opposition to Silent Spring arose not just because Carson was attacking the self-interests of certain corporations (which she certainly was), but also because it was clear that her larger concern was to rein in technological progress and the economic growth it fuels.
Through Silent Spring, Carson provided those who are alienated by modern technological progress with a model of how to wield ostensibly scientific arguments on behalf of policies and results that they prefer for other reasons. ...
... As trust in other sources of authority – politicians, preachers, business leaders – has withered over the past 50 years, policy partisans are increasingly seeking to cloak their arguments in the mantle of objective science. However, the Yale researchers find that greater scientific literacy actually produces greater political polarization. As Kahan and his fellow researchers report, "For ordinary citizens, the reward for acquiring greater scientific knowledge and more reliable technical-reasoning capacities is a greater facility to discover and use—or explain away—evidence relating to their groups’ positions." In other words, in policy debates scientific claims are used to vindicate partisan values, not to reach to an agreement about what is actually the case. This sort of motivated reasoning applies to partisans of the political left and right, who both learned it from Rachel Carson.
Here is more from Robert Zubrin about Carson, the mass-murderer (h/t Instapundit). After discussing the history of DDT, and Carson's falsifications and lies about it, he writes:
Initially, the ban [on DDT] only affected the United States. But the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) soon adopted strict environmental regulations that effectively prohibited it from funding international projects that used DDT. Around the globe, Third World governments were told that if they wanted USAID or other foreign aid money to play with, they needed to stop using the most effective weapon against malaria. Given the corrupt nature of many of the recipient regimes, it is not surprising that many chose lucre over life. And even for those that did not, the halting of American DDT exports (since U.S. producers slowed and then stopped manufacturing it) made DDT much more expensive, and thus effectively unavailable for poor countries in desperate need of the substance. As a result, insect-borne diseases returned to the tropics with a vengeance. By some estimates, the death toll in Africa alone from unnecessary malaria resulting from the restrictions on DDT has exceeded 100 million people.
Zubrin goes on to discuss the specifics lies Carson made. He concludes:* * *While critics of Silent Spring have tended to focus on the one-sidedness of Rachel Carson’s case or on those of her claims that have not held up over time, the fraudulence of Silent Spring goes beyond mere cherry-picking or discredited data: Carson abused, twisted, and distorted many of the studies that she cited, in a brazen act of scientific dishonesty. So the real tragic irony of the millions of deaths to malaria in the past several decades is that the three central anti-DDT claims made by Carson and other activists are all false.
For the record, 1979 [when life in oceans was to have become extinct due to DTT] has come and gone, and life in the world’s oceans has continued to flourish gloriously. But, as a result of the mendacity and actions of Carson, Ruckelshaus, Wurster, Ehrlich, and their allies, DDT has been banned, and hundreds of millions of people who might have lived to enjoy those oceans, to sail on them, fish in them, surf in them, or swim in them, to play on their beaches or write poems about their sunsets, are dead.
In short, Carson (and her ilk) lied and, thereby, caused the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, in order to gain fame, power and fortune. Surely she needs to be included with the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the other great butchers of history.