In “A Fable for Tomorrow,” Carson describes a beautiful, healthy town in which all of trees, streams, and fields were full of vibrancy and life, and had been since the town was settled. Then an illness settled in the area, killing countless birds and livestock, and sickening and causing death for a lot of the people. The birds died out, and the few that were left were so sick that they couldn’t fly, shook violently, and didn’t really eat. There were no birdsongs heard. The chickens laid eggs, but they didn’t hatch. Piglets were dying within a few days of birth, and bees weren’t pollinating. All the fish died along with all of the trees. It was like everything stopped as a result of some kind of curse out of a fairytale. The culprit was a white powder that the people had sprinkled on everything weeks before. This was not an actual town, but a rendering of a town that had felt all of these issues that she had seen in many towns, all combined into one very unfortunate town.
Since the earth began, and life emerged, the interactions between abiotic and biotic factors has been one in which the living is shaped by the non-living factors of nature. That is, until the evolution of man. We have shaped the environment on such a large scale, we would be incredibly amazed if we were able to look back in time to see what it once was at the time of our beginning as a species. Carson says that, “Considering the whole span of earthly time, the opposite effect, in which life actually modifies its surroundings, has been relatively slight. Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species- man- acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.” This change didn’t happen immediately with our evolution, but within the past century with our industrial awakening and complete exploitation of the natural habitats that we at one point in time called home. At this point in time, we pollute the environment so much with chemicals that it can never be unpolluted again. Strontium 90 fallout is still raining down from the atmosphere from nuclear explosions, gets into the soil and the food chain, and is in our bones. Every chemical that we use as fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, etc. end up in the food chain and/or in the water table. It took hundreds of millions of years for the environment to shape the earth and its inhabitants to what they were at our emergence and only a few decades for us to almost ruin it with our own sort of environmental shaping. These chemicals that we often uselessly release into nature without abandon is mainly responsible for so much detrimental change in the environment. We have declared wars on insect species that we describe as bad, although there were other ways of dealing with them if people took the time to understand the insect and the alternative methods. A lot of the problem with massive crop and other plant die-outs is due to monoculture in which only one type of plant is grown over a large area. More diversity is better for environmental health, but our culture often causes this kind of monotonous environment. We seem to want an insect-free environment, but this isn’t really possible and it is definitely not a good thing to want to happen, as it would cause unforeseen issues farther down the food chain. Treating large areas indiscriminately for insects is not only bad for the food chain, but reduces plant pollination, and as before mentioned, puts these same harmful chemicals into our water and soil, and eventually bioaccumulates into what we eat. We don’t know fully what these chemicals will do, or how long it will take for them to degrade.
Carson states that the public should be involved and be told the complete truth about these pesticides, instead of half-truths. False assurances on these issues can be true killers of us all in the wrong hands. “The public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present road, and it can do so only when in full possession of the facts. In the words of Jean Rostand, ‘The obligation to endure gives us the right to know.’” This means to me that in order for us to continue to live on as a species, we need to be aware of all of the things we are doing to the environment, including all of the things that we are releasing into it for something we deem beneficial. It’s not okay anymore to not be informed in order to either have someone to blame when something goes wrong, or just to be able to not take any responsibility for the mistakes we make as a society. The general public isn’t full of scientists. The general public doesn’t even know the chemical name for water, much less where it comes from, what affects it, and the microbial and chemical aspects of it. It would be difficult to explain all the factors to the general public, and most probably wouldn’t even care. We are in the technological age now where everyone’s’ faces are directed to a screen even while walking and driving, laughing at memes or taking countless selfies. Someone come up with a way to make everyone just in this country care and be active about our environmental influence and I say give him/her a Nobel Prize and a cookie because that would be an amazing task. Maybe there should be an app for that.