Re-thinking Rachel Carson

A fundamental part of the Christian world view is that we live in a fallen world. This applies to the environment. Just as man is morally corrupt as a result of the fall, the environment is also corrupted. Just as man has the responsibility, before God to address moral corruption, he has the responsibility to address environmental corruption.
Granted, this is what environmentalists do, but the mistake some make is to begin with the assumption that nature is naturally pure and pristine and man corrupts it. A better way of addressing things would be to see that nature is naturally fallen and corrupt, and sometimes man furthers and worsens that corruption, but he also is capable of reversing that corruption. Thus the solution is not to have man quit tampering with nature, but to have him tamper correctly. — David Wayne (aka Jollyblogger)

poisonMore than one million die every year from malaria, most in sub-Sahara Africa, according to the CDC and the World Health Organization’s 2005 Malaria Report. This is the legacy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and the environmental paranoia she launched against DDT and other beneficial pesticides and chemicals.

I do not think Ms. Carson intended to kill millions of the world’s poorest citizens. Her disciples in the environmental movement thought they were improving the world and saving us all from an irreversible crisis. They thought they had stumbled upon a cover-up, an inconvenient truth that was being hidden greedy corporate interests.

It isn’t even that they were completely wrong about DDT — like many chemicals, it poses risks if used improperly.

But Carson, like too many environmental fear-mongers today, was unwilling to credit DDT or any other man-made chemical with any benefits. As David Wayne says, the underlying assumption in modern environmentalism continues to be that human beings corrupt what would otherwise be a pure and pristine planet.

Wayne’s comments are prompted by a New York Times piece by David Tierney, Fateful Voice of a Generation Still Drowns Out Real Science.

Tierney says “Ms. Carson used dubious statistics and anecdotes … to warn of a cancer epidemic that never came to pass.” Millions continue to suffer and die because of the black eye Carson gave DDT.

And we’re doing it all over again. Environmental paranoia over alleged man-made global climate change has caused the developed nations to impose regressive energy-use and developmental restrictions on the third world, all in the name of preventing yet another dubious global catastrophe. The result will be economic stagnation in a part of the world that desperately needs the benefits of modern agriculture, modern medicine, and modern sanitation.

Go read David Wayne and John Tierney. Christians need to be environmentalists — stewards of God’s earth. But we need to champion an environmental approach that is humble about our lack of knowledge, rational instead of emotional, courageous instead of fearful.

And we need to embrace an environmentalism that sees humanity as the crowning achievement of a loving God, not a viral plague that should be wiped off the face of the Earth.

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  1. So the DDT nonsense started with Rachel Carson. Thanks for this info. I’m guessing more Africans have died of malaria than AIDS. Our obsession with godless environmentalism has not only cost lives but has also become idolatry against our Lord.

  2. You’re absolutely right that many environmentalists see mankind as a viral plague that should be wiped off the face of the earth. Or at least should be so reduced in numbers as to no longer be able to affect the environment. Funny, though, that they never think of eliminating themselves first…

  3. Charlie, I love the outlined profile of what a Christian environmentalist should look like, but I would refine and define some of the other statements with additional thoughts.

    since my machine here is acting up and the comment would probably stretch too long,I’ll try to trackback a link to you tonight in a post.

    I am happy that this topic is rising on the Christian discussion horizon. Thanks for the thoughtful posting here.