Letters to the Editor

Science on the opinion page

In this article, a sidebar mentions that Rachel Carson ". . . laid the cornerstone of the environmental movement . . ." and that her work was "vindicated."

Her stand on DDT is not admired, nor agreed to, by many scientists. Some feel that DDT saved the lives of millions of people from malaria prior to its near-total ban. The fear now is that millions of avoidable deaths occur as a result. Many of her claims are in dispute to this day. For a discussion of the other side of Rachel Carson, check out www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/summ02/Carson.html.

The nuclear winter that Carl Sagan worried about has fortunately been avoided so far. It seems likely that more people would have died in a wholesale nuclear exchange than from the consequences of a hypothetical nuclear winter.

The authors of this article might have chosen some more credible examples of scientists who spoke out.

Edmund K. Miller '57

On page 7 in the fall 2011 issue of your otherwise fine Michigan Tech Magazine there is a blurb about Rachel Carson, stating her work was "vindicated."

In his 2005 book Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture, author Jack Cashill makes the case against Carson. In particular, Cashill tells the story of J. Gordon Edwards, who was an environmentalist, park ranger, esteemed entomologist, and legendary mountain climber, who found Silent Spring to be full of "deceptions, false statements, horrible innuendoes, and ridiculous allegations." Edwards cited the 500 million lives saved that the National Academy of Sciences attributed to DDT, and he echoed the World Health Organization's affirmation that no substance had ever proved more beneficial to man.

The former chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and Professor Emeritus Walter Williams blames the premature deaths of millions of people in Africa on this banning of DDT, which is due in part to Rachel Carson and her adherents. Some vindication!

Arnell L. Engstrom '56
Plano, Texas

I attended Sault Tech for two years and began to attend Tech at Houghton but was interrupted by the Korean War and never returned. But I have always been proud of Tech and its mission.

I received the fall 2011 issue, which was very well done. However, you have included Rachel Carson on the same page with Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan.

Good grief! If you wish to say something nice about Rachel, do it in some other context. She may have saved some birds, but . . .

If you had stopped to consider the cost in human lives her book and the subsequent hysteria caused, you might have chosen someone more deserving. Surely you must have heard the reports that DDT has been largely exonerated, and in the intervening years since the ban, according to what I have read, malaria has caused millions of lives to be lost, especially in Africa and Asia.

Frank Hart '52

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.