John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; WGBH Forum Network; Rachel Carson: Mother of the Environmental Movement
Good afternoon. I'm Tom Putnam the director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
And on behalf of John Shattuck CEO of the Kennedy Library Foundation and all of my library colleagues I want to welcome you to the centennial celebration of the life of Rachel Carson. Let me begin by thanking all of you for coming acknowledging those of you who are watching this program on C-SPAN and expressing appreciation to the sponsors of the Kennedy Library forum series including lead sponsor Bank of America Austin capital Boston Foundation a little Institute of Jenison companies as well as our media sponsors the Boston Globe. WB You are in any CME. This past Sunday on the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson's birth I wrote in a sun filled room on the Maine coast to the sounds of the sea that Miss Carson loved so dearly and I love the boy who because of her efforts continue to sing. It was not inevitable that it be so. In a press conference on August 29 1962 President Kennedy was asked the following question.
There appears to be growing caring among scientists that the bevy of dangerous man range bad effects from the widespread use of DDT and other.
If you consider asking me to pop it back after whatever type services take a closer look at that and I know that there were already peculiar courses but they are jamming the matter. Lewis Miss Carson's book just as President Lincoln once described Harriet Beecher Stowe author of Uncle Tom's Cabin as the little lady who started the Civil War. President Kennedy might have identified Rachel Carson as the woman who launched the modern environmental movement. As he stated in his press conference in response to Silent Spring President Kennedy asked members of his administration to examine Miss Carson's case against synthetic pesticides in the spring of 1963. His Science Advisory Committee released its findings noting that quote until the publication of Silent Spring people were generally unaware of the toxicity of pesticides. The report substantiated Miss Carson's conclusions concerning the detrimental effects of pesticide spraying and recommended early reductions as persistent pesticide use pages of the official copy of the committee report that was submitted directly to and handled by President Kennedy. I was here in the library's archives are on display in a table outside the hall. Rachel Carson was well positioned to raise the sublime to the American people for a few who have written so eloquently about the natural world or so fluently translated complex scientific concepts for the general public and response to an article she wrote for The New Yorker Magazine One reader wrote. Please let me know in a hurry who that Rachel Carson is that keeps me awake night after night.
We are honored today to have assembled a distinguished panel to let us know just who Rachel Carson was and how elegant woke the conscience of a nation.
Edward Weston is considered to be one of the greatest living scientists and one of the most important thinkers of our time as a professor at Harvard an author of numerous award winning and groundbreaking books. He's received many of the roads leading prizes in science and conservation. He will recount to you how he came to know Rachel Carson in the early 1960s stemming from their mutual interest in affairs attempt to eradicate fire ants from his native state of Alabama. And my favorite detail of that story is the fact that it was a young Ed Weston who was a 13 year old Boy Scout was the first to record the presence of the fire ant most likely entered the U.S. and cargo ship from Argentina near his home by the mole below its recent books.
The new clarion call concerning how human activity threatens the biodiversity of our world. Roland Clement was a staff biologist and then vice president of the National Audubon Society and a key player in the scientific debate over the use of pesticides and describing how Rachel Carson came under attack from representatives of the chemical industry.
One of his biographers describes Mr. Clement as the best Rachel Carson's public defenders and 1063 he was called to testify with Miss Carson before the Senate Commerce Committee. Is Congress considered legislation to limit federal spraying and to require stronger warnings about the hazards of pesticide use in our lives independently in New Haven. Having in his words escaped the retirement home in which he was reciting the return to the fray. Perhaps as a reminder to rest on the perils of relying on modern technology the plane that was to bring Linda Lee to Boston this morning was grounded preventing her from being here with us this afternoon she sends her regrets and has asked Rowan Clement to share some of her insights seeking live places has been a lifelong quest writes an X-Men and award winning writer and film producer who will moderate today's concert conversation. Born in Paris she grew up in Chicago and first experience in the summer home bordering Lake Michigan.
And later when she moved as a young mother to a patch of back country and Montana's Black River Valley where she raised her four sons. She's the author of numerous books including homestead and in this we are native. Her personal essays and nature writing have been widely published and her short story it's come to this on the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1902.
She's also produced a number of films including heartland and A River Runs Through It.
Given that we're convening the centennial celebration at the Kennedy Library we are deeply honored to have a past President Kennedy's secretary of the interior Stuart you are here with us today.
When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring it was fortunate that secretary perhaps our nation's greatest conservationist was serving in the Kennedy cabinet.
A four term congressman from Arizona during his term directing the Department of the Interior Stewart Udall was a passionate advocate for the environment.
He worked to pass numerous such as the wilderness to conserve our country's most majestic landscapes and to dramatically expand our national parks and 1063 he wrote the quiet crisis. One of the first books to articulate an ethic of Land Stewardship. And he continues to contribute to the conservation of our national resources. As an author activist and citizen of the outdoors the secretary will provide opening remarks assisted by his grandson price Townsend by a conversation amongst our panelists and he will return to the stage when it comes time to answer questions from the audience. Please join me in welcoming Stuart you up to the podium to open the Kennedy Library. And anyway if you are afraid of type of. I have lost a major part of my vision and well I've asked my gram so. Bright. There's a.
Way through combs for me a little bit that I'm going through and that's the end of my. Remarks. Something that I'm I'm not a man is what I'm telling you about it because it's not on some of you here or I'm sure I've heard this story.
Well poor Carson. Had Greg. Coming from. Her writings about this scene. If you want to really have done. And her funeral service. You know she had cancer and she. Was going to time or sorority.
And she had to describe mams and maybe just threw open. A brand new sled No we don't really get anything like that. He didn't respect her wishes. I was a parent or not I'm only been on the program.
Remember we're in a senator from Connecticut and myself. And after that service run and run for and handed me a piece of paper. And says and I want you to have the best. Because. This is meant to run them really had. Better. At their services on our every brother said Gnome. And I snuck him in my pocket. I've kept it for a century. I'm sure some of you because honestly I think that's true around those. Who have read this but I'm grown the remarks were a little help from Bryce Rabin. By Ruby. The great trouble on the ground. And her sort of. Supremely. Fitting in my opinion. That the most important. Operation on. A rental car slings. Centennial. Letter is being held at the Kennedy Library.
It is not only fair to him because. The president himself. Used his science advisory committee. To support your. Work and her findings.
The book was published in the wrong for magazine in the summer. Of 1963. It was that's interesting of course.
And they're questioning the mood of the hour as well. What is a random through the government going to be. I remember. A lot of you know Drew we used in our he was president of MIT. Or the president's science advisor in fact recommended there cannot be. That many of his Cabinet officers have science advisers. And he got robbed.
A great oceanographer blew mine for science advisor. And I took my current president science from him at lunch.
But. Then again.
I mean just be very blunt and express. An opinion. And. I hope Dr. Wilson wrote on our bureau web being about as is the publisher of wonderful books because I don't. I believe that it's finally spring and the time I was a bit misleading by going and I'll demonstrate that in a moment.
I believe it. Was one of them two or three. Books. I'm sorry.
What published in the 20th century. That's a very big statement. I'm leaving out Albert Einstein of course but this.
Guest Book. Had any impact. Not Marilyn that's contrary to our nation we're going through. A Global Warming are you working to say that as a country. But. If you were here for a minute. Was Popular just. You know you were aligned with yours that had that particular effect in Western Europe. And she wasn't just really. I'm going to give them good environmental momentum in this country. She was inspired. By their product Mary. Strong and influential book. And there are some good some people I'm sorry I have something wrong with languages. Oh she is Obama tried to stop. There spraying up close. And. Let's see them stop the spread.
Only. She didn't fail.
To be interesting to me about running strong. Because she's strong and write that book in 1938 and have fewer hours. She has grown rather stronger all the corer there when he gives I suggest for some on. Me. And I could have done that in short order but I would. Because who is assigned us. I Sam Brooke was a science book. It was a science bro. That's fabulous Cohen saying like. Dr. Martin there's one example. Where the scientist bad just. Remember. That's when. Your friend has this remarkable Brooke beat. And remember it is in effect the rooms when it was a main floor into a brook. Is that she was saying. The roofs and finding. All the other scientists. And people having the press. The minister Osun draft a bio I just showed them and six rude or you know what happened when we finally got. The Environmental Protection Agency. And severe restrictions put on its troops. So bad it was the reason. That I wanted to be here three legs to give retro. Tribute. That I think she deserves.
She was not some of you know him wonderful man was her answer. And he said she was not by nature or. A crusader. She was a CIA person. I got from her RCA came to my office. I go in for a council. And I don't know as I don't think of the people I met or come from the department. Got to start preventing a conference to make damn sure I know this. Because going forward. But I run through some areas. After her book came out I understand they may have run. A few days or growing an excerpt from that. She was very moved because the book uncracked of immense attention. And I think Eric Sevareid my friend who was in the bureau and he finally said then well who came to summarize that.
In the one silence. And here is one. I missed who. Pointed made sure it was good. Critically.
Important. Simply because we have acquired. A great power.
She meant technology.
Who owned her. And destroy nature.
But man is part of nature. And best against nature. Is a known fact. All right again. Well.
This this was a. Great impact.
The book they kept That's right on final and spring look a book at a breath. Run program soon. Had him. Talk about attend the Roosevelt as a man. This is. He one of the I think controllers from the crew down the room and.
Me. And the brook. Not just the spraying that was growing on. It because. That capacity that was growing in the 90s. If you strongly write what was happening.
But I'm past that spraying wait he is. Already conquering. And then comic energy commissioner who is God then or somebody thought they were. So there is great danger of them bangs river. Well no one's been driven over killing children for one thing or the premium. But. This this race was last year when the concern here was watching what the chemical industry were doing. Their slogan was better living through chemistry and the agriculture people. And increase their production and so there I was but. She had the capacity to look beyond. And I can't honestly say I'm surviving. As a pagan to global warming but she saw Best Rastan grows. And sees. Him. Belcher and. From an actor upon applying. Once that was approved one of the atomic energy was a freelancer. I thought we were cold. I have in the world if you're stupid things are Bob Johnson that is what you that's that's what can be in the heavens for me I was no administration. In the future will be great will have nuclear power and they will be the suits. You have to have the universe in your house. That's what was going on. Right hallway intro was writing. And I think. That's what we need to understand. I hope. As we're going down the road going I mean. I've always described myself not for worlds and that's a problem that. I'm now I'm probably one of the pessimists. We're not I'm talking about global warming.
And we have been the government of the United States essentially embodies for people. I mean history.
Doesn't happen. If you're political against science. And as I look at some of the foreign policy decisions and.
Then I'm going to use them from a room.
That they put out with or good moring of concern. But this is what is holding the country back we're not going to go I'm really going to Europe on the left going in the army and can't stand the president and we have a president who talks right through the American people. Oh well you have. To use that simply demonstrating Ruby's mendacity I mean if you know of that word me and. That means we're not getting the truth well I'm going I'm going up and I'm. I'm saying. What I really came here to. Cross running through was a friend and. I gave her a little advice on the sign and. She was a courageous woman. She build up bios. If you didn't come running to me and said Are you going to speak up. You don't. She spoke up and then the president's science advisor committee spoke.
That's the thing. They're going through the through on the right hand.
And her services and that's when a person is. Worth it. As far as I was concerned very ordinary. There was no recognition. Of her greatness. That day. And so. He knows this is what she wrote. With a little help from Brian. I'll see if I can. Read that. I'm going to large the print on the floor. There are echoes. Of past.
And future. Full time. Obliterating. And continuing. Oh all. The things. I wanted before.
This. Inquiry from. The time I'm going. To be going through or. Oppressing the members of current. Series being. Green gene. Dominating. The stream of why.
Wearing. As inevitably.
As an ocean current. Passed through I'm known throughout Europe. And this is this some nation I grow my mood a little bit and if you want to experience point three if you want to read over your poem maybe and we will give you a copy you know.
Where you get it somewhere or you're going to be directed to go through.
Or. Comtemplating This is her writing and being. Wonderful and mystical ending in mind and. Claiming that you mean. I'm sure or. We have another easy thing and it's. All the communication.
Of some universal truth. That law is just beyond our grasp.
One knows the message.
Signaled by DON'T LET ME DIE ON.
Here is very expert on the history.
Hordes of giants. Flashing. Their microscopic life. In the night sea.
And what is the moon.
Over the tiny being.
That. The tiny being that isn't transparent with us.
That is a simulation. Existing. For some reason. Inscrutable to us. A REASON. That no man is the president of the three letters. I've been through an.
In the rock. And we have been here or. And then we come to the. Through the summation.
The meaning. There were meaning. And honk.
And the immense. Immense pursued in our pursuit of the meaning we have towards women.
We approached. The already bent myth theory of origin. Well. Thank you. One. One. Eh.
Dr. Watson. Rachel Carson was attacked not only by the chemical industry spokesman as you could imagine. But by government scientists and other academics scientists for not being scientific. In her research and her conclusions. So I want to ask you how does her work stand up today. I mean typically is that good research is that problems. What are the problems. The next thing I want to ask us How does that.
Ground work that she. You know there are popularized because she was not original scientist she was a popularizer.
How did going to influence the next generation.
Her work as proved out to be factual scraped from the shoulder. As Secretary it all has already stated and has held up very well.
For the reason that she did not form opinions of her own and then seek. Evidence to support them but rather the reverse. She was meticulous in gathering that database. If I might call it that and it was incidentally the time. When she was starting work on the financial problem that I. Had a very brief contact with her Regrettably she wanted to come to Harvard and talk to me off on a rant. And I said Yes come ahead. I look forward to it although I had no idea of course that this movie was going to turn the world upside down. She went and said later she's sorry she had to cancel because she was feeling too ill. And that I was. I did not go up to Maine to conduct that meeting. And then proceeded to research the foreign problems thoroughly. And she understood it very well. And what she said of it and of the problem was accurate. Even though as you say it flew in the face of established authority.
What about through influence and other. Scientists The writer is this and his writers.
It created a new field. Of environmental ecology of an aspect of it. And populist toxicity of substances and pollution. Chemical pollution of the environment which began then and has flourished now into. Something approaching a mature scientist about that time. In the early 60s there was a. Major advances in the science micro chemistry called mass spectrometer gas chromatography coupled. Not allow the benefit of traditional amount of substances for the first time and I'm sure a movement of a gram minute in the basement of a gram much of technique still used in forensic science for example and that. Brought the fuel forward as well in connection with the or powered by the intellect by Carson's book.
Well I'll get back to you with I wanted to ask whether the plan was the best and we were just champion. He took us. This week when he was with me I've been sad with their staff by our interest and then later as a vice president. The guy at. The white students. Who is that for. Women. And weapons in the interest of the chemical factories and family which she received Could you tell Could you tell us a little bit about the. Truth.
Seven o'clock this morning and then comment from Washington TIME sanction where and I'm sorry. But she's sad I want time to start really bad stuff and straight. I was finished enough to tackle first I'm bad I'm ready well twice. And my difficulty was why was that not. The question of the destruction the tabs by the right spread the fact that Chambliss is controlled. Well it was an impressive speech. We are led by perfect production order now either by the side effects perhaps of the use of DDT. I feel frustrated twice some regular because we did not discuss the issue I came to address. So when bad weather fan car and vibe to Spirit have said Messiah already I'm smoothing at Bed Bath and clips in the OC.
We're throttle wide stiffeners again and I said I would accept on one condition. And that is that I speak first. So this May Day opportunity of telling in a audience what white sting fans would tell them because I had heard the hash twice before in great detail and then a cause I was a board to suggest what was wrong with what he would tell them. And I was told that I was using a velvet stiletto on MySpace. Stay friends. He spent the first 10 minutes complimenting me on my approach and couldn't get back on track because there was no debate that evening. That's. It.
I'm wondering this throws the question out to have or. What. Rachel Kristen's would have started the environmental. Movement of scientific movement in this country and I'd be interested to hear your opinions of where it's on and if there is anyone who is our. 21st century Rachel Carson emerging to wake us up to what we need to be with them.
I have a friend in jail John Largo. Who studies the impact of chemicals on children. And he tells me that the situation today is worse than 40 years ago when I was arguing the case in public. So we have a problem and it's not going away. And so we're going to have to learn to ask broader questions. It's not just the attitudes of people. Some who defended need to for example are true believers. Are those who are obfuscating. They're simply covering up and then barrier saying truth.
And who can tell a real here many times on radio announcer where in the Congress and south. That it's a shame that DDT was banned because it has led to the loss of millions of people from malaria.
I don't know whether the Carlists alive because it's so may fall liable to happen before. But I will call your attention to the fact that the early 1970s. The World Health Organization where on.
That the use of DDT and mosquito control for control purposes.
Was good minutiae rapidly. Because DDT continued to be used in agriculture.
And Dr. Rosen Can you explain why these things happen. The insects develop resistance to a chemical. If you use it too often. And so this is why we lost the use of DDT and public health where it might've been useful if we had been conservative in our application. Instead the people in an agricultural broadcaster and the insects became resistant. So this is that we face the problem is still with us.
You know you articulated an important principle and I think it could be summarized not in appropriately in these wartime circumstances. AS. We selected carpet bombing. Instead of rifle shots. Who were we at that time at least in the early days of. The DDT revolution. We chose to simply coat the entire environment with it to get one thing. Where and the result was of course we bought out a large part of that living environment and the insect itself being very resistant to start with since it was beautifully adapted to living with people. Around people and on people's products. Quickly developed the resistance. Have we gone the other way to repeat your argument with a metaphor. And simply selected those areas where save malaria call was very critical. Critically needed and then use pesticide very selectively carpeted on precisely those points where they let you go for the pets were breeding. Them the resistance would not have developed and we actually could have used for emergencies Anyway the continuing of the pesticide. So let me try the answer that last question where are the Rachel Carson. Or is there is there a Rachel Carson. There are hundreds of Rachel Carson. She cloned herself with that book and as a result of course we now have a vigorous and growing science of ecology. And we've already suggested you have her. On the intricacies of the problem is beginning to be revealed to us and the science itself to investigate exactly what does happen when you take out this species or you. Eliminate that part of an ecosystem we're beginning to see just what does happen and why it happened. We are a long way from having all the answers but at least now you would agree undreamed and Rachel Carson's writing period. We have a science and it's growing rapidly and we're fortunately getting some of the best talent among people coming into it. It's broadly the story if we call it your particular community or calls you but include within a large corps which is being brilliantly pursued. Addressing these problems or forced into a fight. So I was terrified widely in the public.
That to Rosen is an optimist I'm not the opposite. But in 1950 when I graduated from Cornell David Penn Mantell the entomologist at Cornell said to me Roland. We're training a whole host of young and topological entomologists really to address this problem in the new way. I met David the Mantell was some months ago and I said David what happened to that crew of people you trade to change the system. And he had to admit that somehow we haven't gotten there yet. So that's our dilemma. In fact when I went to Cornell. It was to round out my background as a natural this time new birds and I'd studied botany at Brown. And so I decided it was time to take a course in entomology to get the big picture on the orders and families and so forth. So I enrolled in the basic entomology cos. To my dismay the professor in his first talk to our class said the gentleman. This is usually an introduction to the great diversity of insect groups. But this year we're going to change the focus because now we have the opportunity of telling you about a silver bullet. To control the insect pass. And that's the new DDT that was made available after World War 2.
And so of course it was a great disappointment. I had never got that perspective on the insect groups that I was hoping to find and I didn't have much use as a non practitioner for the tricks of using DDT and later on I learned that I had to argue against the use of DDT.
Well I guess I should respond to that by defending science.
I've got no know if I'm good at sizing science to your course your point is well taken.
We our dreams are never fully realized but you know there's a parallel here between the fight against cancer the war on cancer and the development of a science of ecology and toxicology that could meet the needs of a society that has to have high productivity and protection.
And in both cases there are silver bullets. We now can take out some cancers. And we can also take out and have taken out some serious insect past. We've got a long way to go but we're not going to get all the way there or even most of the way there. Until we continue developing the science that has.
Grown up. In this case much of it. Traceable to a single source. In the case of cancer or other deadly diseases. Multiple sources.
But we're on our way. So I'm optimistic you know I'm. I think we'll get there.
Is there some kind of danger in believing in the silver bullet. I mean. I have. An instinctual sort of say wait a minute any anything any kind of silver bullet solution is not going to work because a simple. Thing is always more complex than the Lone Ranger can deal with.
But. I would like to mention a couple of names of people who are sort of doing this work and and wonder if the question is in order. Rachel Carson was both. A wonderful writer and a good scientist. And. She was able because of her use of language to. Put over a message that really did if not change the world change it somewhat. Nowadays it seems. To be a popularizer the words are not enough.
That you need to be a TV star or a movie star or have some kind of great celebrity status in order to get the message across. Is am I being too cynical. What do you think.
I. Know you're speaking of a modern dilemma. John Cronan is another. Great historian of the environment. John is at the University of Wisconsin and spoke at Yale about two months ago.
And he pointed out that Rachel Carson was one of the great prophets of the 20th century. Environmentally speaking. The other two are going to defer Rachel Carson. And after Rachel Carson was my neighbor Ed Wilson. So the three of them helped wake up America and the world. To the complex of the realities we face.
And unfortunately we have a one track mind and in this generation in this country we are devoted to making money.
And we have allowed. The corporate world to dominate policymaking. And it's going to take several years to get over this hang up. Unfortunately because these people now have a grip on the system. And it's very difficult to have an alternative point of view and discuss. The general public for example of these things only through television.
And the people who run television.
What people don't know too much about the complications they simply want people to buy what they're offering for sale. And so we amuse the crowd. We don't inform the people.
But it's profits like live and cars and won't wake up enough of ours to hopefully make a difference when the opportunity comes along.
And that opportunity will come when the system loses its grip because of a natural catastrophe or because of the breakdown of the economy which we're stressing just as much as West stressing the environment at the present time. So I have had to try to sum up our whole lifetime of addressing these questions in the last few months and this is why I seem a little more passionate than my friend Ed Wilson about the implications.
We're going to have to broaden our approach. We're going to have to realize that it's a system that's destroying the world not just people. People are either ignorant or inadvertently creating damage to a few of COS or willful in approach. And we were out there more aggressive people.
This is part of the system at the present time. And so we're going to have to rebalance our books and we were being forced to do so. And maybe our men will wake us up. Rachel only woke up a handful of hours.
Yes this is a global problem because the corporations are us. Thank you.
Yeah. Well let's see. It's 2 0 2.
You think we should have start having some questions for the audience addressed to various of us.
Yeah. Okay. Yeah.
There are some I guess there are microphones. To microphones there. And.
It. Would help me in any way. Oh here we go. Yeah yeah. Thank you for joining us.
Okey doke. Let's see there is I think this gentleman was up first.
I don't understand the widespread use now Im certain tropical areas of DDT impregnated.
Would he call those three mosquito netting.
Are the is it the netting that's effective or is it the DDT that's effective.
If you say defect you give voice to authority I was about to respond strongly.
I think both are you know this is an example of sensible use of a pesticide. I think it has to. Well that's just what I said you know that's the silver bullet approach. It's been estimated that in Africa alone sub-Saharan Africa. Use of bed nets you essentially mosquito nets. Over the bed at night. Protecting against the anomalies Gambian group that's a group of mosquitoes which are specialized to feed on human blood. You know it doesn't just come in now. It's feeding on cattle or rabbits or something and then they can human be it lives off human blood. That that protection would be obtained against this formidable insect. Sufficient with just bed nets to drop down most of the eliminate most of the. Millions of deaths annually and killing many many children. In sub-Saharan Africa. Incidentally the cost of a bed net. Is $10. The cost of protecting the people of sub-Saharan Africa and saving ultimately millions of lives including children. No I'm not going to make one of those stupid comparisons with how much we spend in Iraq each month and DDT added to it of course makes it more effective.
Is this yeah I've been here already.
Yes a concern that I sometimes have today involves not just the misuse of pesticides as Rachel Carson advocated. Against but the genetic engineering of crops and other. There are species that are are introduced to the to the environment without sufficient testing. And I wondered if you saw any parallels between genetically engineered crops and the abuse of pesticides like DDT.
I'm not a scientist.
I was going to ask a similar question with regard to the monarch butterflies in this latest disappearance of the bees. If there was any connection to genetically. Engineered crops and also the problems of the Green Revolution which is dependent on pesticides and fertilizers and so on and changing world agriculture.
For their packages.
And they're not too closely related either unfortunately.
Let me dispose of the BS First of all the latest word on the honey bees is that these little mites these little spider like creatures which multiply like bacteria in a colony of beads does destroy some colonies and does weaken colonies. But there is now another cause which is being investigated which may be bacterial. And not so there is no answer to that right now and its relation thereby to add use of pesticides is open. And on. I'm going to take a reporter version will position on the matter of genetically modified crop. I don't see a relation between that and the misuse of pesticides. I'd say. Because we can keep them under tight control in terms of how they develop and how they're use. And having looked through the literature your a lot myself. Having even interviewed the corporate industry and industry people and I came up with a conclusion a list of advantages and disadvantages. More of a crude way of doing this on this and arrived on the side of the use of genetically modified crops. On the one side we have the potential to use these crops to restore the damaged ecosystem the waste lands essentially. And producing crops that can be perennial can be say wind resistant drought resistant and so on. We can increase enormously increase crop productivity and excluding particular parts of the world where agriculture remains critical. On the negative side of course there is the escape of genes into native species. That's a possibility but it's. It's not a huge one. That's where I think. The main. We have a very alert and vigilant but it doesn't look so far or if there have been cases of pollution pollution modified trains into native. Trains including the. You know they have a very modern food plant the milk we eat. So far this is not a not yet developed into a big problem. So I matter being alert keeping our eyes open using using He called use of science. And. I think will work our way through but I predict that genetically modified. Crops. This is a personal opinion and I'm sure there are a lot of who disagree who study the problem also. Or are going to be an enormous boon to humanity providing we stay on top of it and have the kind of regulation that. We expect of our food supply generally.
Let me add a word about that complex city have this problem two days ago in Europe the European community announced that for the first time it would require the registration that definition of 30000 chemical was that now in use.
For the first time there will be a book that tells you what this is about. And what I'm fractionally believe to strew yourself thinks about the pros and cons of using the web there is no independent assessment because wed lag up to putting up money for bad. Most countries have such a magister. The road ahead is still very steep. If you. Will.
Thank you for your great comments. I have a book here which I treasure. It's called Animal machines by Ruth Harrison. It came out about 40 years ago it was the first protest against factory farming and it has a fellow by Rachel Carson. That's what makes it so wonderful. In addition to everything else. I'm not going to redo everything that rates across unsaid but I would like to be just a few lines and have you comment on. She wear it as a biologist whose special interests lie in the field of ecology or the relation between live. Living things in their environment. I find it inconceivable that healthy animals can be produced. Under the artificial and damaging conditions that prevail in these modern factory like installations. Where animals are grown and turned out like so many in animate objects. Diseases sweep through this establishment which indeed are kept growing only by the continuous administration of antibiotics. These organisms then become resistant to these antibiotics. The question then arises how can animals produced under such conditions be safe or acceptable food. I don't have to tell you that they're still being produced under these conditions 40 years later. The menace to human consumers from the drugs and hormones and pesticides used to keep this health and Hastert. Operation growing is a matter never properly explored. And I would like to ask the panel why it is not explored why every discussion on the breakdown of the environment and global warming does not take in the issue of what is happening with animals when in fact you know that the whole agricultural system is really an industrial system and contributes as much to lobby arming as your cause. Thank you Hugh.
It's not a fad. Still it has been around a half a stew long.
Would you like your is possibly right.
The question the crux of the question why have we not done something about that in these last 40 years. Yes. The reason is that as a society we're not educated. Time to stand the implications of what we're doing.
And. We sell bans to the AMA and we're close to the brink right now and the rebel hamming for example down says down the pike we don't know.
So we have a lot of catching up to do.
We've become addicted to cheap food and cheap and easy and that kind of hunger is hard. Hard to stop although I think the growing organic foods movement which is fuel for animals as well as for veggies vegetables and fruit is it is a sign that people are becoming aware and they do have to pay a little bit more but they can do it and then the local food movement which is even newer and is I think going to grow and I think there is a change of consciousness and a change in some of our agricultural techniques but still the poorest people are getting the worst food. As always. OK. Oh no. OK. Thank you.
Well the Roman emperors did it with Britain. Bread and Circuses was it. We do with television and politics and economics. I especially liked your comment Mr. Clement about having to come to some environmental or economic disaster before we do something about it. And my name is Stosh Horowitz and I'm from the Association of Cambridge neighborhood's. And what's happened in the comment of the Massachusetts is we now have something called Smart Growth. Which is a pro-business strategy to give us back this so called the jobs we've lost. As housing and other expenses have become so high here. And what we have is a movement to make environmental regulations at least on the state level economist level where they were initially pretty good. Weaker and give the public less opportunity to intervene and appeal on the argument that these are troublesome bothersome hold up development and allow these large corporations to move out of state and move elsewhere. And it's rather disheartening to see this as a local Commonwealth response to our problems economic and otherwise. So I. I want to ask you what's a good argument to use against that now. I mean we are citizens we've appealed things through the courts. Sometimes we have victories but the playing field is so unequal. In front of the legislature in front of the executive branch. What are your suggestions. Should Do we need to alarm them and terrify them with global warming and in between is there some strategies that the average citizen could use to get our legislators and our executive branch to paying more attention to these problems of over development and growth that the lack of all environmental open space and quality of life issues.
This is the kind of question you had only imagine shows that. It's fascinating the Lamma. Bits and pieces of the larger. And we have the bear took our energies to controlling nature not understanding here. And this is a crisis for our day. Kowald waves at the University of Illinois microbiology years ago that a new biology for the first 21st century.
Because the biology. Except for people like Ed Wilson here for example at Carmencita near us.
They are lending them the sound still using biology to manipulate nature we could make could produce more. Rich without necessarily understanding they have only enough. Control. This is a civilization dilemma we've been growing up the wrong track for three pounds and I speak forcefully because I've only just recently got a series of five doctors I'm just the lemma of the banned nature of relationship. We began the pre-Socratic philosophers misled ours for example by focusing on being vidual instead of on the community the producers and sustains the individual and we're not just defeat you will just see that the liver and we think we're good individuals and we can do anything if we set our minds to it. But it's obvious that there are a lot of things we don't now all the army still learning. And I think I come back to the notion that the system is so entrenched right now that you cannot change here. You and I as individuals but we need to discuss alternatives so that when the grip of the system lessons which it will only end a few years and there are several prophets telling us what's down the line then we may have an opportune the biggest step in and say Look somebody suggests there is different way of doing things. Let's try theirs. This is what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in the 1930s. He rescued the system simply by doing experiments on it.
Thank you Roland. OK.
I I think I've changed but I'm going to ask now since I've been standing in line. But first I want to thank you all for your wonderful work and the profound impact it's had on on so many people. I've been very aware of environmental issues for 20 plus years now and it seems like on the on the edges or in little small ways like local. Food and all that something some positive things are happening. But overall I think things are worse than they than they used to be.
And I'm just.
The times you can get really disheartened about that and I'm wondering.
How you feel whether you feel hopeful for the future or whether you really think things are just going to continue to get worse. Hell there is a catastrophe. And then my other thought that I had was What do you think might actually help.
And. I've been thinking lately maybe. Making some connections with the religious. With the religious.
That angle might make some difference.
Well let's be optimistic. OK thank you.
I have a simple answer to do an optimists like to be a pessimist is to be a positivist. I don't know the answer.
But I am living and I am healthy and therefore I am hopeful and I'm going to work on this problem and do what I can to help people understand the dilemma we face. There's no need getting upset. This is this is not a crime a real crisis for example. It's going to hurt global warming's going to squeeze a lot but it won't destroy civilization civilization depends on the attitudes of people.
And so all of you can take a little bit of this responsibility of reaching out and making more people aware of the fact that we need to reexamine the logic commitments.
You know I was surprised that education is.
A big part of it. OK I'll hurry up because I'm afraid you don't speak so I won't be in the way thing left British way.
You know let's address the question of education and education in this country is lagging badly.
I don't need to go into that what the problems are they are getting better and better understood I think science education.
Is critical. And we've made extremely little progress we haven't learned how to teach science. We can't even teach or properly in at Harvard college much less grammar schools around the country. So we need to work very hard to get science and science not just built in the traditional matter far. From physics upon physics comes chemistry upon chemistry comes biology mechanistic biomedical oriented biology. We have to come into science from the opposite direction. And that is from the ecosystem and the mind. And the understanding of what humanity is. And then unpack these big questions as they can be grasped for each age group and turn. With the instruments of science and then they will have the motivation to lose in the hard science as they go along and they will be educated in the sense they will mentally put hands upon the problems of which they are intrinsically most interested. Only need to experiment a lot with that. And then along with that goes the great problem it seems and tractable which is how to get scientists more involved in the political system. Now run nature purist I mean you know the authority of science science and science remains its objectivity and the ability to present as Rachel Carson so brilliantly shown what the facts are and lay them out in the form so that the conclusion is inescapable to the public. That is one way. But we're also rude people who have strong training in science not necessarily continuing of science but who then go into science. Ah you go into politics and address the question raised a little bit earlier about what to do about Cambridge. We have to understand that the political system particularly in this country. Is the one system more complex than a tropical rain forest and. It was precisely where we need an analytic mind for Miller with scientific realities so that the scientists themselves. Don't have to come out of the labs and classrooms any more than they need to and to fight through issues which should be obvious to anyone with even an elementary training in science. So one has to ask how many scientists or people well trained in science are there in the US Congress.
Who are into this or one throwaway comments from retiring the. Pessimists like Paul and Susan. You know Louis. It's amazing. When I log back. And run. One of the in the bedroom. I'm going to give you two examples one of them is a president that just. Passed through a Gerald Ford did. The great thing about. The environmental movement in the 60s and 70s is that we all sit down there.
There was no partisan shop. And I can say. That one is serious. And Joy and I was proud of them. In 1964 when he was working on the problem that we went through to address the. Energy and the problems were dependent on foreign oil and they were drawing him deeper all the time. And we've got a better transportation system. That is not sustainable when the girlfriend. Have to drive my worst plaguy matter. It stayed on through the product ministration. The other person is one of your neighbors and Muskie.
Of Maine. From under us accomplished but he never got all credit for what he did at the time when true across the world writing. Songs bring the politics in Washington was not clean or unclean water or were local problems the government should get into and. Must be. I will remain with him and. For the second year he was a senator and he hated what the polluted rivers in Maine. And. He said I'm going to take this on as a problem Jack.
I mean work for 10 years.
And by the time Nixon was president. It looked like he won might be a challenger but he had he had to have hundreds of hearings and he came up with the point the sewerage.
Are river's words roars.
And good clue. In this crew doesn't all kinds their own ways of arguing with it and so on. But. These laws were put on the books.
A lot of things are very vulnerable.
You want to long for the wrong w shark to honor my name is Peter the key I am one of the founding members of the women's community cancer project in Cambridge. Our motto is written in our patent that virtual cards. Right. I want the similarity between the attacks that Monsanto Corporation did to Rachel Carson with the fact that my son is the primary corporation. Fortunately I see the interesting similarity between pesticides and products. We've had not the least of these many genetic engineering products. So my question to the panel and instead I wanted to comment on the precautionary principle the public health being simply a public. While the using move up but those with prevention and that state that prevention is not the same went for the final proof but indication of harm. One final proof should lead us to action and that corporations and industry not to be held responsible for their actions through our environment and that we have to stop them before they start like we need to stop cancer before it starts. So I want to hear the panelists moose question I will principle and I also want to say I wouldn't for the life long work around these issues. Thank you very much.
Well. OK your let me your second question our how fast we're going to answer them precautionary principle. Good. Model for he would not have. They're all male males are allowed to subsist only for one purpose for very profound before being killed or driven out and for extremely aggressive and warlike the most of all animals and their families were to get nuclear weapons the world would end in a week. So no involvement. Very big in the way that.
Roll on Clinton has just suggested namely in expanding biology they are a charter group of the newly founded and fast moving Encyclopedia of Life which will provide information single and accessible command eventually of all species on Earth and will allow us to move quickly. And. The final question that was asked concerning what I've forgotten.
Three was enough. I'll turn it over now to my distinguished colleague.
I'm lost. OK how do you how do you view the Al Gore. How do you get these kinds of scientific questions and information to a broad public. We had that media.
It's very easy any talking at each other to confuse the issue further. Right we need to do is sit down together and listen to each other. It's very difficult to post questions across the distance that separates us here. I lost track of some of the discussion for example so to love one another and have the triad.
But some are now trying very hard they made up their mantra that they can make money doing something timeframe.
Some still have been the last bad thing to work together to agreed that if a problem arises we ought to work together to solve the problem or at least diminish its implications. So if there is any wisdom and I can do is to tell you that we still have a long way and we better start talking.
Is wisdom an age which is treated well.
We need to accept. A change in our society.
I. Saw that I could go lecture on my automobile on TIME poll.
We've got to learn to be more efficient. Energy efficiency is the key through so many things.
I think. If we prune technology instead of dreaming. About how good German which would be which is ridiculous because it's so manufactured and would be very costly. This country is constant then the kids go.
To a fish and say.
We've got to put the energy system in.
Renewable energy from woodpecker began the center we began to build our friends of mine and even if there are only half right think that out in the Atlantic Ocean and because it's a shallow.
Town or there may be then their journey to provide energy for the school.
Well let's get busy on it. Let's stop talking about ridiculous.
I'm not talkin isn't 20 miles out. There's a bell there's one of the most phenomenal in the world.
That's from a few years time to us there live. I'm talking to right now and I say even if they're only half right. That would be worth that. And we can accomplish. Every green. Or concrete. Truck rate in population is going to make the problem more difficult. Except our.
Well I want to think this wonderful panel for being here and. Sharing here will stay with us and honoring Rachel Carson by speaking in the way that she would speak if she were here. And I just wanted to thank you personally for involving me to let you know that after we're through here there will be copies of Silent Spring for sale in the lobby in the lobby. And I think maybe some of the people who are here might sign your copies. If you're very nice. And I just want to see that. And with a quote.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
- WGBH Forum Network
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- WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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- May 27, 2007 marked the centennial of Rachel Carson's birth. Her book, "Silent Spring" alerted the nation to dangers facing the environment. In response to the issues she raised, President Kennedy appointed a special Science Advisory Committee that subsequently affirmed her findings. She is now widely considered the mother of the modern environmental movement. Her legacy includes the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency and the current debates over global warming and organic food. This panel discussion about the legacy of Rachel Carson includes Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations; Professor E.O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist; Linda Lear, Carson biographer; and Roland Clement, former Vice President of the Audubon Society. Annick Smith, nature writer and co-producer of "A River Runs Through It" moderates.
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Speaker: Udall, Stewart
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- Chicago: “John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; WGBH Forum Network; Rachel Carson: Mother of the Environmental Movement,” 2007-06-02, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 18, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-jq0sq8qr1w.
- MLA: “John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; WGBH Forum Network; Rachel Carson: Mother of the Environmental Movement.” 2007-06-02. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 18, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-jq0sq8qr1w>.
- APA: John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; WGBH Forum Network; Rachel Carson: Mother of the Environmental Movement. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-jq0sq8qr1w