Ecological & Social Injustice

Rachel Carson testifies before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, 1963

Silent Spring was a shocking book at the time of its writing. It is less so now in a world of relentless global media and information at our fingertips – and also because the impact of many of Carson’s assertions are more generally understood, accepted and apparent.

Silent Spring comments on a number of interrelated subjects; well-being, institutional power, our attitude towards nature, our relationship with nature . . . our relationships amongst ourselves. This last point, human ecology, sits at the heart of the narrative and teaching of the book. It speaks of the inseparability of nature and human culture, the microcosm of human-to-human interactions relative to the macrocosm of human-to-earth interactions; it reminds us of the connection between ecological and human justice.

The poorest in society often pay the greatest price for the destruction of nature (the rich can afford life rafts) – often as a result of a nimbyistic attitude [NIMBY = not in my back yard]. We see this clearly demonstrated in the divide between developed and developing nations. Silent Spring teaches us that social and ecological injustice always go hand in hand and we must not forget this as we face the ecological crisis.

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