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Environmental Issues

Where did it start to go wrong?

The First and Second World Wars bore a terrible price on the world populations, one of which was the blight of terrible food shortages. In order to increase crop production, governments invested huge sums into crop research and intensive farming practices which brought about the introduction of organophosphate insecticides. For years the dream of 'cheap food for all' seemed to becoming a utopian reality but with the dangerous reality of using indiscriminate insecticides soon became apparent with the environmental side effects caused by DDT -(dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane).

In 1962, a book called 'Silent Spring' - written by American biologist Racheal Carson - was published. The book catalogued the environmental impacts caused by the indiscriminate spraying of DDT in the United States and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without fully understanding their effects on ecology or human health. The book suggested that DDT and other pesticides may cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds.

The publication of 'Silent Spring' was one of the signature events in the birth of the environmental movement, and resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led to most uses of DDT being banned in the US in 1972. DDT was subsequently banned from agricultural use worldwide under the Stockholm Convention, but its limited use in disease vector control (i.e. mosquitoes and their relationship with the blood disease malaria) continues to this day in certain parts of the world and still remains controversial.

Today, the modern environment movement is a major political power that helps to stand up against the damage caused by large corporations and governments. However, the effect that people have on their surrounding environment can not only be devastating but also can be accountable to the individual.

Much is known about how to look after out native plants and animal species through the excellent work done by organisations like the RSPB - Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Wildlife Conservation Trusts. The importance of this information shows that even one person can make a huge difference to the local environment through their own gardening practices.

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