One of your editors, either benignly or pompously, awarded NBC one long locomotive for canceling its coverage of the Blue-Gray football game in Montgomery, Ala. because Negroes will not be allowed to play. I just as benignly, or just as pompously, will award to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED a stinking dead mackerel.
JOHN E. SCOBEY
THE NOISY SPRING
Your article on pesticides is ridiculous and irresponsible (The Life-giving Spray, Nov. 18). To say that pesticides and aerial spraying "have helped produce the nation's healthiest wildlife crop in many decades" is preposterous. I had been under the impression that pesticides were poisonous; now it seems I am to believe they are an elixir for the wildlife population.
Rachel Carson in Silent Spring provided a valuable service to mankind with her warning about the dangers of the poisons. But her warning really extends beyond the deaths of a few animals. Her real warning is that man, in his headlong rush of progress, is contaminating the natural environment, and the process may not be reversible. The long-range effect of these poisons is not known, and in spite of the "richest, most varied bag in years," continued tampering with the ecological balance can only be disastrous.
A. C. ALLEN
Virginia Kraft has written not only an admirable commentary, but also the truth about animals and man both being doomed victims of pesticides. It is about time that more research into the dangers of pesticides was done, and that the public supported the drive for a safer handling from the factory to the user of the deadly poisons. For it is, I believe, careless users who do not take the time or trouble to read the labels that the factories have put on pesticides who cause the real damage,
I must admit that when I first read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring I was against it, but she put shock power into her work, and now it is up to the people to use pesticides "with care" to keep the spring always noisy.
The biases that caused Virginia Kraft to debunk the alarm about the use of chemical pesticides are problems for a sociologist. But the "science" that she and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED use to arrive at the conclusion that "wildlife populations all over the nation are bigger and healthier than ever, not in spite of pesticides, but in many cases because of them" merits brief analysis.
It will have occurred to most readers that there are at least three factors involved in any formula to evaluate higher returns from the hunt: l) there may be more game, 2) hunters may be more numerous and/or more persistent, 3) weather and other environmental conditions may combine with the same or a longer open season to facilitate the hunt.
Miss Kraft does not give her readers one iota of evidence that wildlife populations are indeed bigger or healthier. The increase of deer herds is a phenomenon of at least a half century's duration and is related to timber-cutting cycles and farm abandonment, with consequent increases in available browse. Many of these deer, like so much other game everywhere, carry residues of DDT and epoxides of heptachlor, and many biologists agree with Interior Secretary Udall that the public health services should view this problem more seriously instead of assuring us that, because only a few people eat game only part of the time, insecticide residues in wildlife are not a problem. Readers who care to know what "Audubon spokesmen" really think about this problem are invited to write to us at ll30 Fifth Avenue, New York 28.
ROLAND C. CLEMENT
National Audubon Society
New York City.
It is indeed refreshing to find someone who will take an attitude toward Silent Spring that is other than wholehearted approval.
Eminent biologist though she may be, Rachel Carson has done a major disservice to her fellow Americans. Regardless of her motives, it has been most unfortunate that her one-sided opinion about what insecticides and pesticides might do has been accepted by so many as fact. Her continued insistence that she is correct, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, has put her even lower in the eyes of many.