Posted by: Ele Quigan | October 5, 2012

Silent Spring – Rachel Carson

I’m a terribly lazy Green Party supporter. I struggle to recycle properly, I consume way to much crap (food/shoes/clothes/power/lifestyle), I travel far too much on the tube/plane/bus when really I should be out on my bike cycling. I struggle to retain a convincing argument about why it’s so important to reduce our impact on the planet while still continuing to invest in our retirement funds and continue to increase our wealth and reduce our alliance on petroleum and associated industries. But I still feel strongly about our negative impact on this planet.

Because of this, I’ve always wanted to read Silent Spring. It’s the book that kicked it off. There wasn’t the same concept of ecology, impact, harm-reduction – but also in depth look at what these chemicals that have been created are doing to the planet.

I can’t believe it was written so long ago. Another book that I wanted to hold up, tell everyone I spoke to ‘HAVE YOU NOT READ THIS???’ call up our NZ Prime Minister and question our reliance on dairy farming and it’s consequently massive use of fertilizers that are making their way into our waterways…

The thing for me is, this shouldn’t be old news. Swap out the DDT for something else – what is the difference? In the late 80’s (or at least the late 80’s & very early 90’s that I remember, essentially pre-farm when I still lived in Auckland before I turned 10) there was such a huge focus on reducing CFC’s and HFC’s to ensure something was being done about the Ozone hole. Or even saving water (Aucklanders’ reading this, remember the Robert D Frog Drips Waste Water campaign?), saving endangered species, reducing logging, and reducing the amount of chemicals in our atmosphere that were causing Acid Rain in Eastern Europe…

For some reason now, it feels like the focus has changed. Profit above Earth is pretty much all I can pin it down to. We have cities that have risen out of the sand (literally. They don’t even have a sewage system. It’s trucked out daily. If that’s not a total WTF I don’t know what is…). We have money being taken away from green technology initiatives (Wind power, solar power, electric cars) and still constantly a focus on keeping our reliance on Oil. Often it feels like when there’s a new focus on reducing our impact there’s a chemical solution to the problem (chemical cloud seeding to create rain? we want LESS chemicals not MORE). Or it’s hidden away under a mask (NZ’s clean green image? Yes we have one, but calculate all the methane emissions from our massive amounts of livestock).

I feel like Rachel would be sad to know that her work – while the impact huge, still hasn’t cut through enough. Our Springs here are almost silent. There’s pigeons, but no sparrows. There’s a limited dawn chorus, but barely a bird in sight. We haven’t reduced our impact on this planet – we’re constantly making things worse.

I know I need to do more, so I’ll take this post on the nose, and do better. I need to get a proper recycle bin (we have 1 rubbish bin, we now should have a couple). Support the Green Party more in the next election (you know, I haven’t voted in the last couple…). Cycle more, change our lightbulbs. If I was not in this shoebox of an apartment, we’d have a compost bin, I’d have a vege garden, I’d have a green car – but for now, I (we) must do more.

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