Silent Spring. By Rachel Carson. H a m i s h Hamilton, London, 1963. x x i i + 3 0 4 p a g e s . 25s. The theme of this book is that the last two decades have seen an ever increasing use of synthetic organic chemicals to control pest organisms, that these poisons have incidentally caused serious destruction among the more desirable forms of wildlife and that they may well be doing grave harm to Man himself. The evidence is drawn largely from the United States, but the implications extend to all parts of the world where these substances are used. The harm caused by chlorinated hydrocarbons to wildlife, particularly birds, is demonstrated beyond doubt. There is a depressing catalogue of incidents involving catastrophic destruction and local extermination of birds characteristic of rural and urban districts. At least ninety species have been affected, including such favourites as American Robins and Cardinals. Total bird populations have been decimated in the worst hit areas. Some harrowing cases show that certain widely used pesticides can be immediately harmful and even deadly to both wild and human life, but the more general danger comes from their usually persistent and cumulative nature, leading to a more insidious, chronic poisoning. Experiments with birds have confirmed that doses insufficient to kill can cause serious physiological disturbance, including reduced viability of offspring and sterility, which must lead to population decline. Then there is the alarming discovery that the poisons enter various food chains and
Volume: 
Issue 6
Authors: 
Goodwin, D
Ratcliffe, D. A
Goodwin, D
Ratcliffe, D. A

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