Michigan Tech Magazine Spring 2012

Letters to the Editor

More on Rachel Carson

During World War II, more soldiers died from typhus than from combat. DDT, the chemical that won WWII, eliminated typhus, eradicated malaria in the US, and worked miracles in Asia and Africa. When Rachel Carson stood up against DDT, I was developing chemical processes for “miracle drugs,” such as cortisone and prednisone, and considered her a nut case who put birds above humans.

Then a stint in corporate environmental compliance taught me about the devastating effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PCBs and DDT in the Great Lakes. I’ve since learned about horrendous Arctic contamination by chlordane and toxaphene and discovered that, thanks to toxaphene, Lake Superior’s lake trout are the most POP-contaminated fish in North America. Yet, this fact is virtually unknown, and our health agencies hide toxaphene by not including it in fish consumption advisories.

Rachel Carson told the truth. We bury the truth while global cancer rates increase, and we chase cures while ignoring the proliferation of endocrine-disrupting and immune-system-depressing POPs. We allow developing economies to dump toxins into Lake Superior and the Arctic via atmospheric contamination and nod our silent approval.

We do not need to second-guess the light Rachel Carson shined on problems of misapplied chemical technology. We need to stand up for the truth and aggressively seek improved global technology to replace chemicals we banned decades ago.

Lake Superior and the Arctic need a modern Rachel Carson. Where will she develop if critical analysis and speaking out are squelched?

Mel Visser ’59



Tribute to the Greatest Generation

I read with particular interest the story of John Kline ’49 in the Winter 2011–12 edition of the Michigan Tech Magazine. My father, Edwin N. McGlew Jr., a Navy photographer, was on the USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea. He shot footage from the flight deck while the Lexington was under attack. The film was ultimately lost from water damage as he bobbed in the Coral Sea awaiting pickup by another ship. He penned these words the following day:

May 9: Aboard Cruiser New Orleans. Yesterday the Lexington was sunk. About 11 a.m. while our planes were attacking 2 Jap carriers, the Jap planes attacked us. It was a savage attack of torpedo planes and dive bombers. Lasted about 1/2 hour. We sustained about 3 torpedo hits and 2 bomb hits. I took movies from the flight deck but all our film has been lost. All photographers OK. Our planes came back and landed about 3:30 p.m. having sunk 1 carrier and badly damaged another, and sunk possibly a battlewagon. Fire broke out in gas stowage from torpedo hits and spread to magazine. We had to abandon ship about 5 p.m.

A great many men were killed.

I have often thought about what I was doing in my late teens and early 20s as compared to what my father and John Kline were doing. I was safe and secure at Michigan Tech getting an education. My biggest challenge was accessing the computer punch card machines in the ME building and hoping my FORTRAN program would run. I am grateful for all those who have been, or who are, in military service to this country. In responding to the call of duty, they have given us all so much. Thank you for your service!

Patrick J. McGlew ’84