Dying to be Heard

I wanted to plug a student production from Michigan State that was actually picked up by PBS, and has won multiple awards:   Dying to be Heard

Dying to be Heard tells the story of Michigan State University professor Dr. George J. Wallace, who discovered a link between DDT and dying birds on the MSU campus. His work was highlighted in Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” which helped launch the modern environmental movement.

The film, produced by students and faculty in MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, is based on MSU professor Jim Detjen’s editorial “Breaking the ‘Silence’” that appeared in the fall 2005 issue of EJ Magazine.”

You can watch a short promotional clip at the site above, and I encourage you to check out Detjen’s article. Some of the best evidence for the toxicity of DDT came from Michigan, and a quiet birder concerned with robins laying on his campus, wracked with tremors.  Not only was he one of the first to link DDT and bird deaths, he figured out that it was biomagnification from DDT in earthworms that was the source of the problem.

Wallace paid a heavy professional price for his research–especially since a DDT manufacturing plant was located in Michigan until 1978.  That manufacturing plant is now a superfund site, and has not been remediated yet, BTW.

There is a surprisingly large literature of DDT, robins, and university campuses–New Hampshire, Vermont and Iowa also kept careful records of deaths and recovery.

Why not do a little investigating for your campus, and ask your PBS station to pick up this show?

3 thoughts on “Dying to be Heard

  1. The rest of the story: Check out this report on that Michigan DDT manufacturer and the Superfund site it left behind. This multi-media report is also produced by students at Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. They were aided by local residents. The report is an interactive wiki and can be constantly updated as new information comes to light. http://greatlakeswiki.org/index.php/Pine_River_Superfund_Site

    David Poulson
    Associate Director
    Knight Center for Environmental Journalism
    Michigan State University

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