A silent spring is coming

More than a half-century after Rachel Carson’s seminal work, we’re still destroying the Earth

The author, a Chico resident, is a Chico State alum and former small-business owner.

In 1962 Rachel Carson wrote, “The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials.” Here we are 57 years later and scientific research details that 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents and other toxins are dumped into the world’s waters every year. In fact, one refuse-truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into the sea every minute.

The Amazon rainforest absorbs about 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, studies suggest. However, land grabs and government corruption are fueling deforestation, further threatening the survival of the planet. For example, recent data from Brazilian satellites indicated that about three football fields’ worth of Amazonian trees fell every minute last month.

Much debate on climate change revolves around the future well-being of humans while ignoring the impact on other species of birds, bees, insects, mammals and marine life. The planet’s biodiversity and ecosystem are the “connection of dots” of the interactive existence of all life.

The expansion of human habitation and crop production also contributes to the looming extinction of any number of living species: Scientists report that the number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by 3 billion, or 29 percent, over the past half-century; grassland species alone have suffered a loss of 717 million birds, most likely decimated by modern agriculture and development.

The honeybee’s population declined an estimated 40 percent between April 2017 and April 2018. Domesticated honeybees are essential to the production of over 70 percent of global crops; therefore their demise threatens human existence.

The health of our oceans is imperiled by warming waters and human neglect: By 2050, new plastics will consume 20 percent of all oil production; yet just 5 percent of plastics are recycled effectively, while 40 percent end up in landfills and a third in fragile ecosystems such as the world’s oceans.

Time for us to grow up and pay attention to these and many other crises that will make life as we know it unsustainable.