Monday, March 23, 2020

Frank A. von Hippel

Frank A. von Hippel is the author of The Chemical Age: How Chemists Fought Famine and Disease, Killed Millions, and Changed Our Relationship with the Earth.

From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Chemical Age, and how did you select the topics to include in the book?

A: The history of the environmental movement has always fascinated me, especially the outsized role of pesticides in the bitter fights that took place between industry and government agencies on the one side and people fighting for a clean environment on the other.

The political context of this history especially interested me, coming as it did on the heels of the Second World War and the broadcast of synthetic chemicals such as DDT on such a massive scale.

Never before had humanity manipulated the chemistry of the global environment to such an extent, and with absolutely no concept of what the impacts might be to nature or human health. The hubris of this chemical age had to hold some lessons for humanity.

I decided to focus the book on the people involved – from the scientists who made the discoveries to the people such as Rachel Carson who warned of the risks – because...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue