By David and Patricia Armentrout
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Extra resources for The Fire Department
Certain rocks gave out dangerous radiation; even within the light of the sun, from which all life draws its energy, there were short-wave radiations with power to injure. But given time—time not in years but in millennia—life adjusted, and a balance was reached. Time was the essential ingredient. Now, in the modern world, there is no time. The speed with which new hazards are created reflects the impetuous and heedless pace of man, rather than the deliberate pace of nature. Radiation is no longer merely the background radiation of rocks, the bombardment of cosmic rays, the ultraviolet of the sun, which existed before there was any life on earth; radiation is now also the unnatural creation of man’s tampering with the atom.
Where we depended on spraying, the disease was out of control. In the county, where nothing has been done, the disease has not spread as fast as it has in the city. This indicates that spraying destroys any natural enemies. We are abandoning spraying for the Dutch elm disease. ” In the spraying of the elms, the birds are the incidental victims of an attack directed at an insect, but in other situations they are now becoming a direct target of poisons. There is a growing trend toward aerial applications of deadly poisons, like parathion, a member of the family of organic-phosphate insecticides, for the purpose of “controlling” concentrations of birds distasteful to farmers.
Such thinking, in the words of the American ecologist Paul Shepard, “idealizes life with only its head out of water, inches above the limits of toleration of the corruption of its own environment,” and he goes on to ask, “Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? ” Yet such a world is pressed upon us. For the first time in history, virtually every human being is subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals from birth to death.