8th December Speaking of Annihilation: Mobilizing for War against Human and Insect Enemies Man has always been at war against the nature and fellow humans. While most historians have led us to believe that the control of nature and war against each other are altogether different phenomenon, Edmund Russell differs in his view. He has very beautifully traced the history of modern warfare and showed how the technology of warfare and the fight against insects has developed simultaneously. Russell states that the scale of war of mankind has been expanded by the control of nature and war in turn expanded the scale on which people tried to control nature. The writer tests his hypothesis by informing the user about the wars between World War 1 and 1962.He shows that countries moved from contained warfare towards “total warfare” during this time. It was also the time when chemicals were sprayed on a large scale to kill mosquitoes and lice.
The books explain how the US chemical industry and the US military have grown with each other. One example given by the author is of 2 institutes – Chemical Warfare Services and Bureau of Entomology. These two institutes operated in such a way that military helped in the growth of the chemical industry and vice-versa. United States gradually accepted the practice of using chemical toxins such as DDT to control insect populations and along with this as military warfare and chemical industry started sharing common ideology – humans – enemy soldiers were also treated as insects to be completely eliminated without any mercy.
With this book the author tries to highlight the environmental consequences of both war as well as chemical used against insects. The very chemicals which were supposed to help humans fight diseases have now become toxic elements which are accumulating inside the food chain and threatening to bring more deadly diseases than the earlier ones. Russell’s books come out with historical reasons as to why mankind was not able to stop the advent of these chemicals in time.
Russell, Edmund. War and nature: fighting humans and insects with chemicals from World War I to Silent spring. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.