Zika, Pesticide, Genocide, and Social Media

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I’ve never experienced the desolation and loneliness of a one man trip to Alaska but, sometimes, I really want to find out what it’d be like. Leave to take a break from the world, ah what a dream. The rate of environmental destruction that the world is generating is at an unfortunate all-time high and the notion of “pick your battles” is harder to listen to. After reading a book called “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, I’ve been pushed further to realize on what scale the predicament is that we’ve created for us. There are so many aspects of human life that hurts the natural world.

“Silent Spring” is a non-fiction and incredibly informative account of the human use of pesticide and is the book that is partly credited to the formation of our modern EPA. It is a book involving saddening accounts of pesticide and herbicide use, most of which resulted in the decimation of local wildlife populations. The book cites not only environmental effects but also the human bodies response to poisons made in the hopes of managing other species.

My reaction after reading this book was to immediately think of the blanket spraying being done to combat Zika virus. Already, there has been mass devastation of many bee hives in the area numbering in the millions that happened moments after the death rained down on the land. Some people were able to witness the dying colonies in their final moments and were powerless to stop it.

With the already low number of natural bees in the wild, killing well cultivated and long standing hives kept by beekeepers is a severe blow and a few dozen steps in the wrong direction that we need to go. In her book, Carson cites many events in which the local flora and fauna payed dearly for blanket spraying where only one species was actually being targeted. The Zika virus is dangerous, but there has to be a better way. The ecological ramifications as well as the human health worries are and should be enough to at least prompt research into alternative ways to combat the virus.

More recently, a rumor has been circulating that actually cites the pesticide known as Naled as responsible for the birth defects that are attributed to the Zika virus. This pesticide disrupts the larval development stage of many insects and thus the mosquito populations are not able to reproduce effectively. It has been said that this pesticide has not been tested for its effect on human development but scientists are fairly certain that no detrimental effects will occur.  This pesticide rumor has been refuted by many high ranking officials in both government and scientific positions as an untrue statement generated by untrustworthy media organizations. One piece that is cited as proof is that Naled was actually inserted into the water supplies of local areas to further combat the virus. Soon after the injection of pesticide was it that birth defects began to be reported in patients afflicted with the virus.

It is certainly interesting to note that the pesticide is banned in Europe and it is due to the fact that Naled develops into a carcinogen when absorbed into the human body. Almost all pesticides, including ones used today, effect the nervous system in blocking body receptors so that in extreme cases, death by paralysis occurs.

Many people cite our changing diets as the driver for our raising amount of health maladies but if we are directly inserting pesticides into the drinking water, is that not cause for concern?

These pesticides are in our rivers, our food, our drinking water, the oceans, the fields, and the air. In short, they are everywhere.

During Rachel Carson’s time, the public had raised such outcry at the heavy use of pesticides and herbicides that many were banned outright due to the fact that she brought to light the adverse effects of chemical use.

In our time, Puerto Rico banned the use of aerial spraying for the Zika virus and Florida is trying as protests erupt from angry residents. With the news flying around Facebook and other Social Media outlets, the truth of current events is hard to keep covered.

This is a vivid example of evidence that if people know, they care, and it makes the job of community aware environmentalists and conservationists all the more clear; teach, educate, and inspire from your position in the world. Inaction may not be a matter of opinion, but of knowledge.

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