Tonight we share with you a discussion of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring I had with two scholars of Carson’s work, Lisa Sideris, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the Director of the Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society, and Christoph Irmscher, provost professor of English and the Director of the Wells Scholars program. Silent Spring was published in 1962 and was a document of the detrimental effects on the environment of the indiscriminate use of pesticides like DDT. Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation and public officials of accepting industry claims unquestioningly. These claims, to say the least, were explosive. We recorded this conversation as part of the 2013 summer series called The Custom House and included in it are selections from the text that are read to the accompaniment of music by Early Day Miners.
In the coming weeks Interchange will seek to explore a few topics that have breadth and depth enough to require multiple treatments to be sure we cover as many angles and perspectives as we can in order to present a more complete picture. One such topic is Bloomington’s long history of being a toxic waste dump thanks to the Westinghouse Electrical Corporation (bought and sold several times since they dumped untold amounts of electrical equipment filled with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, into Bloomington’s soil and groundwater). If you’re a dedicated listener you know that Interchange has tackled the topic in the past and you can go find those shows via our archives link at WFHB.org. How should we think about such a breach of care and responsibility? Can’t we consider that an extreme violation of the rights of those people living through that period of active contamination, but also can’t we see it is a violation against the future inhabitants most of whom, by now, either don’t know about the toxicity under our feet and in our water, or have assumed the problem has gone away. Instead, it festers.
Beyond PCBs we’ll take a look at Genetically Modified Organisms and Food Security as well as the Coal and Fracking industries. At the back of all of this is our right to know what is being done to us, to our bodies, to the world that sustains our lives, and to those new humans we bring into this land of toxic waste.