In partnership with American Experience
Rachel Carson’s Warning on D.D.T. Ignited an Environmental Movement
Rachel Carson is often credited with helping give rise to the environmental movement. And with Silent Spring – her treatise on the danger of pesticides – she forced Americans to rethink how their actions might damage the world around them. Regulations were passed that virtually banned the use of DDT in the United States; most other countries followed suit. And, although she died two years after the publication of Silent Spring, her legacy over the decades continued to grow. As former-Vice President Al Gore noted during a remembrance ceremony in 2002, she “brought about change in all of our lives.”
But that change has not always been for the better, say Carson’s critics, who point out that DDT was more than an effective agricultural pesticide; it had also been a first line defense against a host of insect-borne diseases, such as malaria. They argue that the regulation of DDT drove malaria rates up across the developing world, after decades of decline. These critics are right that malaria remains a devastating burden, but they err in their understanding of why: correlation is not always causation, as Retro Report’s trip to Burkina Faso, an epicenter of the malaria fight shows.
Rachel Carson, DDT and the Fight Against Malaria by Clyde Haberman
Educators, click below for this video’s accompanying lesson plan and check out our Environmental Education Collection.
Sign up for our newsletter to receive resources related to this video.
Browse through dozens more lesson plans and videos here.
More Like This
Amazon Rainforest Defenders Confront Violence, Encroachment and Politics
Debates over development in the world’s largest rainforest have led to deadly conflicts, threats to its indigenous people and harm to the global atmosphere.
Unprepared: Lessons From Two Massive Oil Spills
A disastrous oil spill off the coast of Alaska and massive explosion of a rig in the Gulf of Mexico revealed a pattern of unsettled standards and inconsistent oversight that cast doubt on the oil industry’s preparedness for future accidents.
We’re Catching More Diseases From Wild Animals, and It’s Our Fault.
Scientists who venture into rainforests and bat caves explain how viruses, like Covid-19, spill over from animals to people, and what we must do to stop the next pandemic.
Our Appetite for Beef Is Growing. So Are Climate Worries.
Scientists warn that to slow climate change, we need to change how we farm and what we eat.