The Earth's Green Mantle


selected passages | related ideas


The above title is Rachel Carson's phrase from her most famous work, chapter six of Silent Spring, for the ecological communities -- called biomes that make-up the foundation of the earth because they allow all life and especially human life to exist.


The Earth's Green Mantle is a metaphor that represents the terrestrial vegetation we take for granted that makes what E. O. WIlson calls "the shimmering disequilibrium" sustaining all life on earth.


Several authors may say it differently but without green plants, bacteria and phytoplankton in the oceans, the earth would and could not sustain the diversity of animal life we see, depend upon, and protect as charismatic or spiritually moving symbols of life.


Selected passages:


"Water, soil and the earth's green mantle of plants make up the world that supports the animal life of the earth."


"the Earth's vegetation is part of a web of life in which there are  intimate and essential relations between plants and the earth, between plants and other plants , between plants and animals."



"One of the most tragic examples

of our bludgeoning of the landscape is to be seen in the sagebrush lands of the  West"


"The land of the sage is the land of the high western plains and the lower slopes of the mountains that rise above them, a land born of the great uplift of the Rocky Mountain system many millions of years ago."


"As the landscape evolved (changed), there must have been a long period of trial and error."


"The sage­–low growing and shrubby–could hold its place on the mountain slopes and on the (dry) plains, and within its small grey leaves it could hold moisture enough to defy the thieving winds."


"Along with the plants, animal life too was evolving in harmony with the searching requirements of the land."


"The sage and the grouse seem made for one another. The original range of the bird coincided with the rang of the sage, and as the sagelands have been reduced, so the populations of grouse have dwindled."


"The antelope too have adjusted their life to the sage."


"And another life looks to the sage. Mule deer often feed on it."


"...the eventual effect of eliminating the sage...." for the cattle industry -- beef.


"But even if the program succeeds in its immediate objective, it is clear that the whole  closely knit fabric of life has been ripped apart."



chemical versus biological controls the costs and merit of each method




Example: herbicide 2-4 D  causes anoxia–deprived of oxygen–affects on soil?

76 - 79

Example 2: Crabgrass in suburban lawns and spraying; a question of toxicity  



Example 3:  Klamath weed or European introduced St. John's wort and its spread and biotic control with beetles [biological control].




Rachel Carson, Silent Spring pp 1-51, 83 & see web site: & The Green Mantle Initiative

related ideas:


Silent Spring | Edge of the Sea