Casaubon's Book

50 Years After Silent Spring

It is the nature of popular books to inspire people to wildly overstate their importance.  The most stunning example is Abraham Lincoln’s statement upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862 “So you’re the little lady who wrote the book that started this great war.”   While _Uncle Tom’s Cabin_ was an incredibly important book, one that moved many people to shift their sympathies on the subject of slavery, this was, of course, the wildest hyperbole.  So too are claims that _Diet For a Small Planet_ invented modern vegetarianism, that _The Omnivore’s Dilemma_ started the local foods movement.  In general, what really popular books do is build on work that had already been done by others, but arrive at just the moment at which these efforts are coming into the light, and capture public imagination.  The public’s passion for these

The single possible exception to the overstatement of the importance of popular books might be the claim that Rachel Carson’s _Silent Spring_ began the environmental movement.  While many of the claims about the book are hyperbolic (the reality is that she alone was not responsible for the banning of DDT, for example, something that both her adulators and her critics often claim), and it is also the case that she built on the prior work of others (Carson intially was reluctant to take on the “poison book” – she didn’t come to it from personal passion initially), Carson’s book hit the stores like a bomb.  Most people simply had never thought about this.  If a nascent environmental movement existed (it did) it all of a sudden went mainstream.

It is also the nature of popular books to be used for any number of political purposes, with and without their author’s consent.  Carson’s death shortly after publication precluded consent for most of these.  Just as Stowe has been accused, for her sentimentalism and the obsequity of her characters of undermining her own case as well as starting a war that was in train long before she ever set pen to paper, and Pollan attacked for pushing a path than his detractors claim will lead to widespread starvation, Carson has been accused of killing more people than Hitler because of the banning of DDT in malaria-infested areas, and of the wrong kinds of environmentalism as well.  My colleague Pamela Ronald makes a slightly improbable  case that Carson would be pro-GMO over at her blog “Tomorrow’s Table”  (actually, she doesn’t really spend much time making it, since her primary agenda is to assure us that all scientists agree GMOs are a good thing).

Science blogs editorial staff contacted me hoping I could work up a head of outrage on this subject, presumably about how horrifying it is to see Carson used this way, or how I know that she would have opposed GMOs.  But it is pretty difficult for me to get up a head of steam here –  using the famous popular book as a tool to justify your ideas is a perfectly normal thing to do.  Honestly, neither Ronald nor I nor anyone else know what Carson would have said about GMOs.  It all depends on how you read her – and how Carson  might have read five decades of history she didn’t get to see.

The question is a matter of emphasis.  Ronald finds this plausible because she sees Carson’s book as about “he over use of technology—in that era it was chemicals–in farming.”  There’s a case to be made here, of course, that that’s what Carson’s book is about – that she did not fundamentally oppose chemical agriculture, but merely wanted to find biological controls that were less destructive to wildlife and people.  Those words “over-use” are critical here – fundamentally Carson’s book is not a critique of chemical agriculture, but a refinement – one in which all sorts of revisions can be used to cut the amount of chemical usage.  And given that the modern organic movement didn’t exist, that fifty years of changes in agriculture hadn’t happened, it is possible that Carson might have agreed.  Or not – she might have sided with those who argue that for the most part pest controls can be managed without GMO inputs.

Where I do think that Ronald is overly optimistic is this – Carson was a scientist and a naturalist, but her deepest gifts were as an investigative reporter.  It was in that capacity that she took on the “poison book.”  Yes, it includes the narrative “A Fable for Tomorrow” but ultimately, it is a book that seeks to debunk myth.  And one of the central myths I think she might have easily located around the GMO movement was this – that most western agricultural technologies are needed and justified because they benefit the poorest and hungriest people in the world.  Ronald’s post, which emphasizes crops grown in the Global South implicitly makes this claim.

But historically speaking, and at this moment, most high-cost, high-investment agricultural technologies have functioned not to feed the poor, but to feed the rich.  Thus, we know that the vast majority of the grain calories produced by Green Revolution crops went not to feed the starving billions that Norman Borlaug emphasized, but into the mouths of livestock in the developed world where they became more meat for the already-well fed denizens of the developed world.  There’s a simple reason for that – high cost agricultural technologies have to be made to pay for themselves – those university research grants aren’t free, and rich consumers pay better than poor ones.

If you can imagine that any investigator might skip the money trail, you can make the case that Ronald does.  I don’t in any way doubt that most agricultural researchers genuinely want to help feed the world, are genuinely concerned about the stresses on world crops, but we know that the largest consumers of GMO crops are not Bangladesh, but the United States.  And we also know that during the current epidemic of world hunger, most of the world’s hungriest people lack access to any number of basic things we already have aplenty that require absolutely no agricultural research – better varieties of already extant seed, access to fertilizers and a basic irrigation, the simplest agricultural technologies and the simplest methods of holding the harvest – like the ability to dry grain crops that were inundated before they rot.  If in the 50 years and more that we’ve had all those things, we have not made the accessible to most of the world’s poorest people, why do we think it is likely that a high cost new technology will be different?

Volatile and rising energy costs and problems of global distribution in an energy constrained world make it even less likely that the GMO food we grow the US will reach hungry people in the world’s hungriest places – or that expensive technologies from universities in the US will make it to those places on a scale that makes a real difference.  Moreover, the growth of high-input technologies like GE seeds have been participants in the rapid intertwining of food and oil – if your seeds require a million dollar grant and a full university research lab to produce it is food that is tightly tied to the price of oil – and when oil and food prices are intertwined, the world’s poor, who already spend 60% or more of their income on food, are most vulnerable.  Food security for the world’s poor depends on breaking those ties, not on increasing them 

Fundamentally, the case against GE crops that I think is most important is that one.  It is the fundamental disingenuity of the companies (I’m not accusing Ronald or individual scientists of conscious disingenuity here, in case that isn’t clear) of research institutes and corporations that trumpet their work as fundamentally making an impact on world hunger for the poorest when it is unlikely to reach them, and when the capacity to make that difference has been in our hands for decades – and we haven’t cared enough to make it.  The idea that THIS time, THIS critical breakthrough will make all the difference is fundamentally a lie – because what would make a difference is greater access and equity to the things we’ve had all the time.  It wouldn’t take an investigative reporter a long time to see that one.

In our book _A Nation of Farmers_, Aaron Newton and I ask whether we could feed the world at its present and growing capacity for long enough to begin to stabilize world population and the ecology.  Our answer is that such a thing is just barely technically possible – if that was our priority.  And our answer is that there is no evidence whatsoever that we will do so – if we did not make ensuring food access to everyone a priority when we were rich and had  all the energy we needed and wanted, why would we be more likely to do so in an era of scarcity?  The food crisis of 2008 that never entirely left us was only enhanced by the tight links between oil and food prices, and the increasing dependence on high technology agriculture.  It is important to remember that in 2008, we had record harvests – and a billion people still went hungry, more than ever in human history.  The hunger we are facing is as much or more a problem of equity as one of production – and ultimately GE crops do little to create greater equity, and often much to preclude it.

It does not diminish Rachel Carson’s book to say that it didn’t do all the things people attribute to it – it invented a consciousness of ecology, a public awareness of nature as something vulnerable to us.  Moreover, it provides a canvas from which we can build – as all books that stand any kind of test of time do.  The question is which way we build – and that, ultimately, is not a writer’s problem, but the reader’s.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Mark
    September 24, 2012

    Fundamentally, the case against GE crops that I think is most important is that one. It is the fundamental disingenuity of the companies (I’m not accusing Ronald or individual scientists of conscious disingenuity here, in case that isn’t clear) of research institutes and corporations that trumpet their work as fundamentally making an impact on world hunger for the poorest when it is unlikely to reach them, and when the capacity to make that difference has been in our hands for decades – and we haven’t cared enough to make it. The idea that THIS time, THIS critical breakthrough will make all the difference is fundamentally a lie – because what would make a difference is greater access and equity to the things we’ve had all the time. It wouldn’t take an investigative reporter a long time to see that one.

    And this is the criticism of GMO that I think is legitimate. I think many are irritated with monopolistic and obnoxious behaviors of companies like Monsanto or ADM, so their response is to say not only are they jerks, but GMOs are unhealthy! They cause tumors! Nonsense. There’s no plausible mechanism and when they do get a study, like this week’s joke of a study, it’s overblown and crap science.

    GMO could be used to feed more, use less pesticides, etc., after all, innovations like dwarf wheat greatly expanded our capacity to feed humans. That was old fashioned genetic modification but it amounts to the same thing. The problem is the ability to patent seeds, to control farming centrally by a tiny handful of corporations, and generally act like monopolists that makes GMOs unattractive. It’s the patent law, not the food safety, that makes them unappealing, and sadly, it’s very difficult to develop products as expensive to research as GMOs without patent protection.

    We need technology to continue to expand the efficiency of farming as long as the world population continues to increase. Malthus was wrong only because we were able to drastically reduce the amount of land needed to feed any given human. Being anti-GMO or anti-technology will not help us in the long run deal with the ever-expanding human population.

  2. #2 pyst
    September 24, 2012

    Pamela Ronald wrote a similar piece for Forbes magazine.
    After which a number of donations came in to the No on Proposition 37. It seemed to be an appeal for corporate donations to influence the voters in California.

  3. #3 Greenpa
    http://littlebloginthebigwoods.blogspot.com/
    September 24, 2012

    “after all, innovations like dwarf wheat greatly expanded our capacity to feed humans. That was old fashioned genetic modification but it amounts to the same thing.”

    It is, absolutely, utterly, and provably- NOT the same thing in any fashion. And thanks to the recent publication of the new “DNA Bible”, which “revealed” that indeed most of our genome is functional (“gee, whiz, it’s mostly switches! Who’da thunk” – uh- every evolutionist on the planet knew this…) – it is now slightly more possible to explain to the genetically semi-literate.

    Traditional breeding includes- all those switches, and all their evolutionary contexts. All that information is coherent, and involves huge numbers of relationships and on-off behaviors that us humans are 100% ignorant of. The gene-jockeys until recently didn’t even know they might exist.

    But each and every organism knows; at the genetic level. The traditional breeder chooses variations on existing themes- and all their invisible co-factors.

    When you do genetic transformation- you specifically remove a gene from its co-evolved information contexts- and all the regulators that gene has been limited by. Yes, indeed- you can expect unexpected consequences – eventually. In fact, statistically- they’re inevitable.

    Not. Vaguely. The same.

  4. #4 Brad K.
    Ponca City, OK
    September 25, 2012

    Sharon,

    There is a school of detractors to Silent Spring that details falsified research, that tracks the US DA ban through testimony before Congress and claims the resulting ban was unrelated to the tenor of the testimony. (I particularly like, true or not, the claim that California started to ban DDT for causing cancer, but found it shrunk some tumors and couldn’t be found to stimulate any cancers.)

    Whether any of this is true, either the Silent Spring version or the detractors, a precedent exists to accuse, again, rightly or wrongly, environmentalism, and especially climate change, of falsified and dubious science.

    That, I think, is also a legacy of Carson’s Silent Spring</em.

    One other issue going on from 1957 through 1961 was the use of Thalidomide as a sedative, and to control morning sickness — and the horror stories arising of patterns of birth defects that eventually were traced, conclusively, to thalidomide. Carson's book claimed that DDT also caused harm. Senator Joe McCarthy's witch hunt for communists had Americans checking on each other, suspicious of motivations, and ready to follow mass movements to end evil.

    Since Silent Spring I thing we have become used to ambulance-chasing attorneys digging up horror stories about industrial products; Silent Spring just would be that big a surprise, anymore.

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    September 25, 2012

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  6. #6 Neil Craig
    September 25, 2012

    We know that DDT has never harmed a human being and that even the alleged eggshell thining is very dubious.

    On the other hand malaria deaths went from 50,000 a year to aroind 1.75 million because of the “environmental” bans on the substance.

    Over 50 years that comes to 85 million unnecessary deaths caused, quite deliberately bny this one econazi campaign.

    Say what you like about Hitler and Stalin but nobody remotely honest can suggest that, even in combination, they are remotely as murderous as even this one campaign by the obscene Green movement.

  7. #7 Greenpa
    September 25, 2012

    “that even the alleged eggshell thining is very dubious.”

    Flatly untrue. I’d love to know who pays for your time. In the case of DDT- it was Shell Oil. Which, incidentally, never, ever manufactured DDT. Interesting fact, isn’t it? And no- I didn’t learn that from some vague anonymous source- I learned it first hand, in 1969. I’ve never bought anything from Shell since.

  8. #8 Steven Earl Salmony
    Chapel Hill, NC
    September 25, 2012

    Follow the example of Rachel Carson…..

    Speak out loudly, clearly and often about the power of the human species to produce manifold pernicious ecological effects on Earth in our time. Such deleterious behavior is directly induced and currently driven by 7+ billion human beings ravaging the Earth by reckless overconsumption of its limited resources, relentless overproduction of unnecessary stuff and unbridled overpopulation activity.

    Keep speaking out like Rachel Carson did. The willful silence of so many knowledgeable but insistently dishonest, politically correct experts as well as the incessant mass media jabber of clever sycophants and other absurdly enriched minions of the most wealthy and powerful could be killing the world and life as we know it just as surely as the elephant hunters on our watch.

    Most of us are not hunting elephants or else gratuitously destroying the creatures and environs of the world we are blessed to inhabit, the world we borrow from our children.Most of us are not enriched by deceitfully spreading contrived logic, ideological idiocy and outright falsehoods in the mass media. The great majority are not actively engaged in such inimical ‘sins of commission’ but have chosen to maintain a discouraging silence, and not speak out ‘as if you were a million voices’. Can elective mutism in such circumstances be regarded as a ‘sin of omission’?

  9. #9 TTT
    September 25, 2012

    As always, Neil Craig is lying. There was never a DDT ban in countries with endemic malaria, and this nonexistent ban never killed anyone. Many countries with endemic malaria have stopped using DDT because the mosquitoes evolved a resistance to it – but most of the wingnut members of the church of DDT don’t believe in evolution, and certainly won’t accept it as a reason to stop picking their noses and wiping their boogers on Rachel Carson.

    The perfect exemplar of their unhinged and anti-thought hatred is Steven Milloy, who, when not advancing his 9/11Truther theories, also runs a website with a completely hoaxed up “projected death count” resulting from the DDT “ban”… and then in itty bitty letters below admits that the numbers are “speculative,” but that “even one death from eco-nazi tyranny blah blah blah should be just as shocking blah blah blah FREE SPEECH.”

  10. #10 Mal Adapted
    September 25, 2012

    Neil Craig:

    We know that DDT has never harmed a human being and that even the alleged eggshell thining is very dubious.
    Here is your homework for today.

  11. #11 Mal Adapted
    September 25, 2012

    Neil Craig:

    We know that DDT has never harmed a human being and that even the alleged eggshell thining is very dubious.

    Here is your homework for today.

  12. #12 GregH
    September 25, 2012

    Please go easy on Neil Craig, as he’s a sci-fi book shop owner from Glasgow with an inflated sense of his own importance. Neil’s claim to fame is that he once had a letter published in The Scotsman, who said, after hardly any deliberation at all,

    “Excellent letter from Mr Craig. He is like a lone wolf howling in despair in the intellectual wilderness of our politics.” (Emphasis mine.

    I’m sorry if that’s a bit presumptuous, Neil, but I thought I’d save you the trouble. I know it can be very difficult to work a quote like that into a web posting about, say, DDT. But it’s all true: it’ says so on his web site.

    Anyway, I’m glad to see Neil is branching out – spreading his wings, as it were – and posting something other than the puerile climate-change denial he’s well remembered for.

  13. #13 Liz
    Canada
    September 26, 2012

    I recently became involved with a small community lab doing synthetic biology as part of the do-it-yourself biology movement.

    Genetic modification of organisms is becoming much easier to do and more accessible to people outside large corporations. This means that there are going to be more GMOs around that aren’t created by large corporations, which means they could be made to address problems that don’t have much money in them.

    Sharon, if you could engineer a microorganism to do something of real value to humanity, what would it be? We’re thinking of building a biosensor of some sort, or maybe a microorganism that produces a medical product.

  14. #14 Stephen B.
    September 26, 2012

    Regarding Neil’s comment that DDT never hurt anyone…. It’s been years since I read Silent Spring, but as I recall it, DDT and the other chlorinated hydrocarbons weren’t vilified for what they did to people, so much as to what they did to the overall environment.

    The trustees at my mother’s condo association dumped a bunch of herbicides in the development’s pond this summer to control aquatic growth. They managed to not only kill off nearly every plant in the pond, but most all of the fish and frogs as well. Where there used to be a pond with critters that sang to us all night, there is now a dead pool of cloudy, brown water that looks like an unflushed commode. Sure, the herbicides, sitting in the pond, probably aren’t all that hazardous to my mom, but that’s but a small comfort at this point.

    My point is, even if chemicals such as DDT aren’t all that harmful to people, said chemicals wreck the overall natural balance of things in the ecosphere which is reason enough to go lightly with them.

  15. #15 southernrata
    September 26, 2012

    Great article, Sharon. I have friends who wonder that I am not more staunch in my opposition to GE. This captures my belief that it’s not the GE food itself that is automatically the problem but the way it is chosen, produced and marketed.

    A very good article here, reinforcing the belief that hunger is a political problem, not a technological one.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/sep/26/human-rights-combat-hunger-report

  16. #16 dean
    September 26, 2012

    We know that DDT has never harmed a human being and that even the alleged eggshell thining is very dubious.

    Good to see you’re still telling blatant lies neal. Don’t you try to do anything else? The eggshell thinning (what is this “thining” to which you refer?) is far from dubious – do your homework. Your ddt “ban” was never a reality for purposes of controlling mosquitoes carrying malaria: it was found to be of rapidly diminishing benefit, due to growing resistance: resistance noted decades before Silent Spring was written. Its use for this purpose is still allowed, although other, more effective, measures are being used.
    Researchers were expressing concern about it as early as the 40s. All of this information is readily available, in forms even you should be able to understand. You don’t seem to look for it but continue to push the old, unfounded, crap. Don’t you have any shame?

  17. #17 Neil Craig
    September 26, 2012

    Well that seems to have stirred up a fre people.

    The only one who makes any claim to providing evidence of such harn is the 2 Mals whose link is actuallu an article by somebody who writes “science for children” and makes no attempt to produce new evidence. Quoting somebody who says they are quoting somebody who says they are quoting somebody else isn’t providing real evidence.

    Stephen B’s anecdote ain’t evidence either, though to be fair he seems to accept my point that DDT hasn’t physically harmed any human being. Whether some reduction in insects around his Mum’s condo would be too high a price to pay for saving 85 million human lives is something on which we must agree to differ but does rather support my claim that “environmentalists” are better described as eco-Nazis.

    Technically the fact that nobody here, anxious though they all are to rebut the criticism, has found ABY actual evidence of harm isn’t absolute proff there is none – you could all be merely wholly ignorant of the subject pontificated about – but it is the way to bet.

    Dean if your main complaint is about spelling it might be an idea to learn how to spell people’s names right.

    TTT’s claim that there has never been any ban is, of course, a lie though it is a lie regularly used by the econ-nazis.

    Now if anybody wants to produce some actual evidence….

    Thought not.

  18. #18 dean
    September 26, 2012

    Whether some reduction in insects around his Mum’s condo would be too high a price to pay for saving 85 million human lives is something on which we must agree to differ but does rather support my claim that “environmentalists” are better described as eco-Nazis.

    Nope, you don’t have any shame. Decent people believe that the term Nazi should be reserved for, well, Nazis, and not used the way you do – to try to insult those who are more intelligent and moral than you.

    You keep referencing the notion that laws about DDT are responsible for 85 million deaths, without what you claim from others – proof. You can’t supply it, so that’s probably why you don’t try.

    Read some of the articles about the growing ineffectiveness of DDT as resistance grows in its target. Read some of the articles about the health research that started in the 1940s and continues to today. Read the research about the effects DDT had on the thickness of bird eggs, and what is apparently still the case regarding thickness.
    There will be some big words neal, and probably some numbers, just to throw you off, but you might (I don’t put a high probability on it) learn something. (Not that you’d ever admit it.)

    ..saving 85 million human lives

    Interesting number, thoroughly without context. Over how long a time? Since malaria deaths are on the order of 1 million per year at the most, around 700,000 documented in 2010, surely you don’t mean per year? Next ten years? Just pulled out of thin air? (The last option is by far the most likely, since it is stated by you.)

    It’s not sure why you are so fundamentally dishonest neal. You have combined the amazing ability to be totally unconcerned with easily located facts that disprove your bits of lunacy with the ability to call people who disagree with you, and point out your talking points’ difficulties, some breed of nazi.

    You are a most disagreeable, unpleasant, person.

  19. #19 Mal Adapted
    September 26, 2012

    Neil:

    [Mal's] link is actuallu an article by somebody who writes “science for children”

    Can you imagine why I gave you the link, Neil?

  20. #20 GregH
    September 27, 2012

    “…not sure why you are so fundamentally dishonest neal”

    Well, that’s the problem, see? Neil isn’t being dishonest; he really believes this stuff (and a whole bunch more), and he isn’t able to reexamine his own logic and beliefs in light of any evidence provided by well-meaning internet posters. Any new information would have to find its way under his radar without him noticing, or come from an unimpeachable source — like, say, Neil Craig. It’s the conspiracy theorist’s dilemma: he’s caught like a fly in a trap of his own making.

    Several people have suggested that he seek counseling for his mental health, rather than continuing to spread the kind of misinformation found above, but that seems like a long shot. I’d say he was a harmless crank, but he does take himself and his theories very seriously.

    Go on, Neil! Tell us about something you feel passionate about, like why alternative energy will never work, or why all this climate change nonsense is obviously a conspiracy. Go on! You know it’ll do you a world of good. What about radiation hormesis? That’s science, isn’t it? Nobody here knows anything about RH, so you can set them straight right off the bat. Just a couple of quick points, and then you go off and have your tea. Right?

  21. #21 Hikaye
    http://www.edebiyatkolik.com
    September 27, 2012

    Speak out loudly, clearly and often about the power of the human species to produce manifold pernicious ecological effects on Earth in our time. Such deleterious behavior is directly induced and currently driven by 7+ billion human beings ravaging the Earth by reckless overconsumption of its limited resources, relentless overproduction of unnecessary stuff and unbridled overpopulation activity.

  22. #22 TomT
    September 28, 2012

    Wow! I went to the “homework page” hoping to find a reasonable rebuke of Neil and found nothing. It appears that Neil won this argument.

    If DDT was becoming so ineffective, why was it necessary to ban it? Wouldn’t people just stop using it. Why did the USAID withhold funding if countries contiued to use DDT?

  23. #23 TomT
    September 28, 2012

    Please provide the evidence and not these baseless attacks.

  24. #24 Richard Eis
    September 28, 2012

    The Wiki is interesting on DDT and fairly comprehensive. It seems DDT is not overly dangerous to humans but increases the risk of some cancers.

    Silent Spring mentioned that DDT use should be reduced, due to effects on related wildlife and increased resistance. Not actually banned.

    Also it seems that there are a fair number of alternatives to DDT. So if people did die from reduced DDT use (the ban was only the US in 1972, it was banned worldwide in 2001), it was also because alternatives were not used in it’s place.

    I would also query the 1.75 million deaths per year. The current estimate is about 650 thousand, though that may also be a tad low.

  25. #25 Neil Craig
    September 28, 2012

    Dean says

    “..saving 85 million human lives

    Interesting number, thoroughly without context. Over how long a time? Since malaria deaths are on the order of 1 million per year at the most”

    Which shows he is one of those who don’t need to check the evidence before deciding what they know. If he had read my posts he would see my calculation that 1.7 million a year over 50 tears does indeed make 85 million. Presumably his definition of “decent people2 includes those who supported killing Jews too. I trust nobody will object to me saying that mine doesn’t & that I not only consider that he is more “intelligernt and Moral” than I but that I do not think any decent person could suggest he is more moral, at least, than a rabid dog.

    Greg clearly knows that i have already defended most of these positions – with sufficient success that the only thing every other runner on “scienceblogs” (including Greg’s) rersort to was censorship. Some respect for “science” that shows eh?

    But the punch line is that despite the vitriol nobody has been able to show “a single human being” harmed by DDT. Without which 85 million killed by the lack of it looks differentoable from traditional Nazism only by the greater death toll.

  26. #26 Dean
    September 28, 2012

    Neil you truly are scum. It has been pointed out numerous times that deaths are not 1.5 million per year. Your calculation is, simply put, pure bullshit, as it is based on numbers which are not remotely correct. It would be no more correct to say 150 million, since 50 times 3 million is 150 millio. You are free to continue being unburdened by facts, honesty, or decency, and we are free to continue making the point that you lack those characteristics.
    And saying my definition of decent includes “Killing Jews” does nothing other than put on display how unhinged from reality you are.

    Lets see: you habitually lie about issues of policy, demonstrate no understanding of science, have arguments that consist entirely of referring those with facts as Nazis – if you were not a person but a character in someone’s writings, upon reading the response would be ‘It is not possible for a single person to fail in so many different ways.’ Thanks for reminding all of us that no matter how disgusting criminals in the news might be, there are always people like you who are worse.

    I note too that you are still ranting about Greg, and repeating the same falsehoods. You were banned for acting more obscene there than you have been here. Apparently the onslaught of comments showing why your comments and assertions were false caused you to blow a gasket on his blog and, despite warnings, you would not stop your flow of mental crap and vile comments. You got what exactly you were warned of and what you clearly deserved.

    Keep repeating you crap about the number of deaths: the only people who swallow it are those as stupid as you – we can hope the list ends with you.

  27. #27 Steven Earl Salmony
    Chapel Hill, NC
    September 28, 2012

    Locating “a road less traveled by”…. a path Rachel Carson would likely have recommended to one and all. At least we have one example on the planet where “the superhighway” was at least momentarily abandoned. Does anyone know of other similarly organized communities with population caps?

    http://www.okotoks.ca/default.aspx?cid=46

    Sustainable Okotoks – The Legacy

    “Not far from my hometown of Calgary, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, there is a beautiful little town called Okotoks. About 10 years ago, the folks there decided they were going to live within their local environmental means. Today Okotoks can fairly call itself the greenest community in Canada”…..Prime Minister Stephen Harper
    In 1998, Okotoks made a decision about its future, becoming one of the first municipalities in the world to establish growth targets linked to infrastructure development and environmental carrying capacity when it adopted a Municipal Development Plan – ‘The Legacy Plan’. In 1998, the town faced an intersection in its evolution. Dependant on the Sheep River for its water and its ability to treat and dispose of effluent, Okotoks could choose to continually “grow without limits” and align with regional development and access to regional infrastructure, or take the “road less traveled” and intentionally choose to live within the carrying capacity of the local environment.
    Informed by extensive public consultation, the high cost (a regional pipeline) of exceeding carrying capacity, and a preservation of a small town atmosphere value system expressed in a community survey, a community driven vision was created that chose to respond to rather than manipulate the environment to sustain our standard of living. A population cap at the licensed limits of the Sheep River aquifer (approx. 30,000) became a key feature of Okotoks’ development path. A build-out municipal boundary for 30,000 people was established. Sustainable Okotoks rests on four pillars that guide and shape a comprehensive and holistic approach to sustainable development:
    1. Environmental Stewardship
    2. Economic Opportunity
    3. Social Conscience
    4. Fiscal Responsibility
    The pillars work together to nurture what Okotokians have expressed desire for – a town that is safe and secure, maintains small town atmosphere, preserves and protects a pristine river valley, provides housing choices, employment opportunities and quality schooling, and caters to all ages and cultures.
    A comprehensive set of targets and initiatives were defined to ensure that our build-out population would be reached in an environmentally, economically, socially, and fiscally responsible way. Since 1998, more than 100 sustainability initiatives have been undertaken.
    The road Okotoks chose to travel was pragmatic, unique, and daring – and about much more than just a population cap. Today, whether it’s a more balanced tax base, broader housing choice, a composting sewage treatment plant, a reduction in water use, or the Drake Landing Solar Community, we can all be proud of our collective accomplishment: becoming ‘better’ not just ‘bigger’. Along the way, be it through several awards, acknowledgment by the Prime Minister, or the featuring of our community on CBC National, the sustainability torch we have carried with ambition and purpose has become a guidepost for others to follow.

  28. #28 GregH
    September 28, 2012

    Just to be clear, I’m not Greg Laden. (He’s much handsomer than me.)

    NC: “…i have already defended most of these positions – with sufficient success.”

    Neil, you’re dreaming. Define “sufficient success”? Is it an argument consisting of complete sentences? Because I’ll grant you that. Otherwise, most of what you write is carefully framed wishful thinking, plastered up with Libertarian platitudes where you don’t have any made-up “facts” to hand.

    You haven’t defended anything, and the whole climate change issue has left you behind, just to name one example. But like I said, you’ve built a sturdy fortress around your various positions that admits no new evidence. This is prima facie evidence to label you a Crank.

    Neil, you really need to define the character you want to play on these forums — smug twat, or tendentious blowhard? Because “goateed science guy” just isn’t working for you. Or are you just a lone wolf, howling in despair?

  29. #29 Hank Roberts
    September 29, 2012

    > if you could engineer a microorganism to do something

    You have read Tiptree on this question, I hope?

    Be careful what you wish for.

  30. #31 J Bowers
    September 29, 2012

    “TTT’s claim that there has never been any ban is, of course, a lie though it is a lie regularly used by the econ-nazis.”

    EPA: DDT – A Brief History and Status
    “DDT is one of 12 pesticides recommended by the WHO for indoor residual spray programs. It is up to countries to decide whether or not to use DDT. EPA works with other agencies and countries to advise them on how DDT programs are developed and monitored, with the goal that DDT be used only within the context of Integrated Vector Management programs, and that it be kept out of agricultural sectors.”

  31. #32 Craig Nazor
    Austin, TX
    September 30, 2012

    Neil Craig,

    Your arguments are flawed.

    You state: “Over 50 years that comes to 85 million unnecessary deaths caused, quite deliberately by this one econazi campaign.”

    Your statement implies that if DDT had been used without any regulation, all those deaths would have been avoided. The fact is that DDT is still being used for malaria control. But mosquitoes build up a resistance to DDT over time, so long ago many countries switched to other chemicals because they are more effective at mosquito control and less damaging to the environment. As Rachel Carson was aware, there were many unintended environmental consequences to DDT. In the end, it just wasn’t as good at controlling malaria as a lot of more recent techniques. Trying to blame all malaria deaths (whether your statistics are accurate or not) on a fictional ban of DDT is just plain false, according to abundant scientific evidence.

    Here’s some very interesting reading about DDT:
    http://www.gladwell.com/2001/2001_07_02_a_ddt.htm

    By the way, name-calling has never been an effective debate strategy.

    You also claim: “We know that DDT has never harmed a human being.” Do you consider reduced fertility “harm”? There are lots of studies that DDT reduces human fertility. Here is one:
    http://www.andrologyjournal.org/cgi/content/full/28/3/423

    Meanwhile, the fact that DDT use can have serious negative effects on the environment is not disputed. Most people now realize that humans need a healthy, fully functional environment for a good quality of life. Rachel Carson was very much responsible for bringing that truth to a much wider audience.

  32. #33 Neil Craig
    September 30, 2012

    Dean is, of course, a digusting, wholly corrupt, Nazi animal, who will be denounced as such by every remotely honest “environmentalist” here.

    Dean you have said that the figure I gave of 1.75 million is alie and the true one far lower (though you don’t say what that figure is or give any evdence for one). So check here http://www.econ.upf.edu/~reynal/resat_v7.pdf where 2 million is claimed & you will see that my estimate is relatively modest. I could have said you eco-Nazis had murdered 100 million.

    You are4, of course, also lying about why I was banned on otherr science-hater-blogs. It was not I who was rude it was the “environmentalists” who could only answer my factual points by insultys, lies and obscenities & when that failed by censorship. You clearly know that.

    Perhaps you would be so ki8nd as to explain in exactly what way disputing catastrophic warming by saying that everbody in Glasgow has sex with the sheep so ubiquitous in the city centre, claimed by one ecoNazi is either polite or factual. Otherewise you would have to retract your lie – well you would if you weren’t an obscene wholly corrupt Nazi animal.

    I have at all times, ensured that I neither say anything which is not prvably true and of at least the level of politeness the ecoNazis use agaqinst me. Sharon can confirm this.

    Greg the fact that nobody else on any of the science-hater-blogs was able to successfully frbate on fact & most of them were forced to resort to insult or obscenity & ultimately to censorship proves I made my op poi8nts succesfully.

    In the same way that the fact that nobody here has even attempted to factually dispute that DDT never harmed anybody proves I am correct here.

    Of course I am fighting with the disticnct advantage of the truth, so that does not prove I am smarter than you.

    When I asked Greg L to name a single scientist who supported the warming scam & wasn’t paid by the state he named himself, as a climate scientist in position. Greg is, as I assume you know, a state funded assistant anthropology teacher and therefore also proven wholly corrupt. Were “Scienceblogs” (or indeed his employer) in some slight way honest that would have made his position untenable. Fortunately for him neither are.

    J Bowers I don’t know if yopu have ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition. They always phrased their decisio9ns that they were simply handing over their victims and asked the state cto be merciful. Equally, your Nazi friends always insisted they weren’t killing Jews but just resettling them. Not being a comoplete hypocrit you will equally be publicly on record as saying they didn’t kill anybody either because of that. I would enjoy reading your links to where you said it.

  33. #34 Mal Adapted
    September 30, 2012

    TomT:

    Please provide the evidence and not these baseless attacks.

    OK, my first responses to Neil were lame. Evidence is good. As a non-Dunning-Kruger-afflicted non-expert, I’ll defer to Bug Girl on Neil’s claim that Carson and/or the “obscene green movement” are responsible for 85 millions deaths. DDT’s effect on bird’s eggshells is well documented (starting on pg 73 of the PDF). As for Neil’s claim “We know that DDT has never harmed a human being”, “we” don’t know any such thing. The Endocrine Society backs me up.

  34. #35 J Bowers
    September 30, 2012

    Neil Craig — “J Bowers … your Nazi friends”

    And again (it works on Sesame Street)….

    EPA: DDT – A Brief History and Status

    “DDT is one of 12 pesticides recommended by the WHO for indoor residual spray programs. It is up to countries to decide whether or not to use DDT. EPA works with other agencies and countries to advise them on how DDT programs are developed and monitored, with the goal that DDT be used only within the context of Integrated Vector Management programs, and that it be kept out of agricultural sectors.”

  35. #36 Liz
    Canada
    September 30, 2012

    Hank, thanks for the suggestion. Who is Tiptree?

    I am disgusted by the way in which Monsanto et. al. have been engineering crop plants to produce pesticides which the pests quickly become resistant to. It was obvious this would happen, and what they’ve done is outright stupid from a biological perspective. I’ve been complaining about it for years, and have no intention of imitating them.

    I’m thinking more of microbes that produce bioidentical hormones or other medications, or that act as biosensors for methyl mercury in fish.

    That’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves, as we’ve only just started up and haven’t synthesized anything yet. We should have the capacity to engineer bacteria and yeasts, but plants are likely to be beyond our capabilities for a very long time yet. If we could engineer plants, what I’d like to do most is increase drought and heat resistance, while outcrossing to keep genetic diversity. A fair amount of that could be done through conventional breeding, but bringing in some genes from plants that handle drought well could add tools that are not available in the crop’s genome.

    Monocultures in general are asking for trouble with pests and diseases, and I think a lot of the problems we’ve been seeing with GMOs stems from the fact that they are planted as monocultures. Then of course there are all the issues with terminator seeds and/or people getting sued because their seed-saved corn crossbred with the GMO corn next door… I am aware of the issues involved. That’s one major reason why I’m involved in this community lab, because I think if we take this technology out of the hands of corporations there is a lot of potential for this technology to be used well. Think it’s worth a try, at least.

  36. #37 dean
    October 1, 2012

    nc, your paper presents that 2 million number without real attribution. i note that it also does not discuss ddt but instead cites dislocation from warfare and other unrest as primary causes of malaria’s spread, and concludes without prevention of those effective battling of malaria is made much more difficult. From the end of the article:

    Therefore, the
    prevention of civil wars, especially in tropical countries, and
    the control of its causes are very important for the
    development on the control of malaria. However, more effective control methods will not mean the end of malaria if civil conflicts make their application impossible. An example of a simple device made in the twentieth century that was
    crucial in stopping malaria transmission in Europe and
    North America is the window screen. Obviously, homeless
    refugees fleeing from civil wars and walking through forests
    and dumping sites are not likely to have any protection
    whatsoever against repeated biting by Anopheles mosquitoes.
    Our estimates point out that approximately 13.2% of the
    yearly cases of malaria during the period 1962–1997 can be
    attributed to dislocation, by contrast with geography or
    poverty. Therefore, any effort to reduce the spread of civil
    wars and control their causes can help to moderate, at least
    partially, the extension of malaria transmission and its
    impact on economic development.

    The paper you cite does not support your ddt rant. Standard operating procedure for you.

    Speaking of rants, this

    Dean is, of course, a digusting (sic), wholly corrupt, Nazi animal, who will be denounced as such by every remotely honest “environmentalist” here.

    summarizes to a T your “ability” to debate. No facts, no building of an argument, simple name calling. I’m sure it served you well in grade school (/snark). Around grownups – well, it doesn’t fly.

    But with your last outbursts I’m now at a dilemma: given your behavior here, and how you spewed filth like a little baby when your “arguments” on Greg’s blog were shown to be substance-free, I’d concluded you are simply a vile person, not very intelligent, racist, a bigot, unwilling to learn even the most basic scientific concepts, unable or unwilling to carry on a polite discussion, fundamentally dishonest and a congenital liar. In short, a person to be treated with contempt. (Your web site reinforced that conclusion.)

    Now, however, I’m not so sure: it seems likely that you are in serious need of mental health assistance, and are more to be pitied for your inability to obtain, or unwillingness to seek, such help.

    Whichever is the case, your asinine rants are not worth the eye-soiling that results when they are read.

  37. #38 Ewan R
    October 2, 2012

    Quick disclaimer up front, I’m a Monsanto employee, the following comments derive entirely from my own muddled mind and not from the muddled hive mind of my employer.

    Predominantly in response to Liz, although its highly likely I’ll meander off and waffle about other stuff too

    Iam disgusted by the way in which Monsanto et. al. have been engineering crop plants to produce pesticides which the pests quickly become resistant to. It was obvious this would happen, and what they’ve done is outright stupid from a biological perspective. I’ve been complaining about it for years, and have no intention of imitating them.

    Why does this disgust you? Pests have not ‘quickly’ become resistant to the bioengineered insecticides (there are some instances where populations have developed resistance, but given that Bt has been on the market for many years this is hardly quick, and it is not limited to GM crops (indeed the first established cases of Bt resistant insects arose from sprayed Bt which is a permissible insecticide in organic agriculture – any –cide is going to promote evolution of resistance, this however is hardly an argument against using them, more an argument to continue developing better versions (for whatever value of better you fancy))) – these insecticides remain effective today and have, for the past ~10 years, massively reduced insecticide use and increased on farm profit (both for adopters and non-adopters in the US) – that a technology may eventually stop being useful is, as already stated above, hardly an argument against ever deploying it.

    f we could engineer plants, what I’d like to do most is increase drought and heat resistance, while outcrossing to keep genetic diversity. A fair amount of that could be done through conventional breeding, but bringing in some genes from plants that handle drought well could add tools that are not available in the crop’s genome.

    This is precisely what Monsanto (and others, although Pioneer’s drought transgenic is likely 3-5 years away) are doing – droughtgard hybrids were deployed in massive on farm trials this year and will be commercialized next year – these are a biotech/breeding approach utilizing a transgene which has been shown to improve drought tolerance and lines which are drought tolerant. Like any and all traits produced it is outcrossed to multiple different varieties.

    nd I think a lot of the problems we’ve been seeing with GMOs stems from the fact that they are planted as monocultures

    How exactly are you using the terminology here? Monoculture from a species perspective or from a varietal perspective? This varies farm to farm, growers in the Midwest may vary between 1 variety per 1500 acres or worse (real monoculturing however you look at it) to 1 variety per 100 acres (all of which have GM traits associated)

    Then of course there are all the issues with terminator seeds

    There really aren’t you know, terminator seeds have never been deployed commercially, the only issue with them is that people keep erroneously bringing them up in the discussion.

    and/or people getting sued because their seed-saved corn crossbred with the GMO corn next door

    Another one that doesn’t happen – transgene presence has to be clearly on purpose before one falls afoul of the law, it does get trumped up to be some big huge deal when really it isn’t.

    And a brief response to Sharon’s diatribe against high tech ag and its non accessibility to poor farmers…

    If in the 50 years and more that we’ve had all those things, we have not made the accessible to most of the world’s poorest people, why do we think it is likely that a high cost new technology will be different?

    Bt cotton in India, Burkina faso and Pakistan (sure, not food, but it helped poor farmers regardless)

    Pam’s own floodtolerant rice (not transgenic due to regulatory issues, but a high-tech solution (unless one views marker assisted breeding to be a low tech wossname, particularly when the trait was first discovered and shown to work by use of transgenics) which is pretty much designed for Bangladesh (and if I’m not utterly mistaken is deployed there to good use)

    The GMO food grown in the US doesn’t have to make it out to be of a benefit to poor farmers (I’d be massively surprised if this model would ever work, but it’s a silly straw man of a model anyway, so it doesn’t need to) the GMOs really need to operate in the countries which are poor and require more food/agricultural security (Bt as the flagship example here – it works, it raises farmer income, it reduces farmer use of insecticides, given that we haven’t yet got to the stage where other technologies are ready yet – here’s hoping the WEMA project works some magic there, likewise golden rice)

  38. #39 Neil Craig
    October 2, 2012

    Good post Ewan. Good to see somebody who clearly knows the facts and sticks to them.

    Dean I note that while you are still denouncing the figure of 1.75 million malaria deaths, let alone 2 million yoy make no attempt to provide another figure..

    Worse yet – neither you not anubidy here has even attempted to provide evidence of even 1 person harmed by DDT. If you cared about humanity that difference would easily put you on my side even if you could find 1 death – that you can’t just makes tour ecoNazism more despicable.

    The rest of your rant is just the normal sort of obscene lies to be expected – but even there you cannot dispute that Greg Laden’ proved himself, by claiming to be the world’s only “climate scientist” warming supporter not to be feed out of the government trough, to be a wholly corrupt liar who would never be tolerated on “scienceblogs” were in some way scientific.. That he had to descend to such lying, obscenity and ultimately censorshi[p is proof in itself that my case is proven correct..

  39. #40 dean
    October 2, 2012

    let alone 2 million yoy make no attempt to provide another figure..

    Liar. Look at earlier posts.

    ..you cannot dispute that Greg Laden’ proved himself, by claiming to be the world’s only “climate scientist” warming supporter not to be feed out of the government trough, to be a wholly corrupt liar who would never be tolerated on “scienceblogs” were in some way scientific.

    Bull crap. One need only look at the discussions in question, in which your butt, at the same level as your brain, was rhetorically handed to you by others’ comments.

    The reason for your banning was, as has been pointed out, for repeatedly doing the same action you do here: pulling out your overused, hyperbolic, nazi card.

  40. #41 J Bowers
    October 3, 2012

    Neil Craig throws ‘Nazi’ and ‘fascist’ about like confetti but is a secretary of UKIP (affectionately nicknamed ‘BNP in blazers‘). Priceless :)

    Ummm, Neil….. Decades of federal dollars helped fuel gas boom

  41. #42 Mal Adapted
    October 4, 2012

    Sharon,

    My comment of 9/30 at 4:29PM is stuck in moderation. Is that because it has three links in it?

    It’s my serious response to Neil Craig, after my initial frivolous efforts 8^}. Probably way past its due date, though.

  42. #43 Liz
    October 4, 2012

    Ewan,
    with reference to the definition of monoculture I would consider even the lower number you gave to be a monoculture. The point I’m making there is that if you have enormous fields growing one crop, ESPECIALLY if that crop has no genetic diversity, if a pest or disease gets going it can destroy the entire crop. If you have that same area, say 100acres, growing 5 different crops then the farmer is much less likely to lose everything. There’s then less need for either pesticides or Bt producing corn, and it is more likely that in an extreme weather event there will be something to harvest. Also, if many farmers are growing just one or two varieties of a crop, it is harder to come up with genes for more resistant plants in the future.

    My issue with the Bt-producing corn is that it seems better to me to use a pesticide only when required, rather than having the plant produce it all the time as I would expect resistance to take longer to develop. Mis, over and long-term use of antibiotics has been a major cause of bacteria developing resistance to antibiotics.

    On a slightly related note, I prefer to consume less in the way of pesticides rather than more. I know Bt is not supposed to have any harmful effect on mammals, but there are so many chemicals out in the environment due to human efforts and we don’t know all that much about their synergistic effects. It’s impossible to study their interactions in enough detail to know every possibility, and if something does go wrong it’s hard to trace to it’s source.

    I have heard of Monsanto’s drought efforts and it is certainly an improvement in goal over engineering corn to resist glyphosate, but they are very new and I’m not sure what results in the fields have been. Do you have more information on that?

    With reference to the Bt cotton, I seem to remember that it doesn’t repel pests very well if the plant is stressed, and that the combination of lack of repelling power and the high cost of the Bt cotton seed resulted in a rash of small farmer suicides. The 1st article below also alleges sheep and cattle deaths.
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/farmersSuicidesBtCottonIndia.php
    http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/Bt+cotton+has+failed+admits+Monsanto/1/86939.html
    Obviously these aren’t peer-reviewed journal articles, but it looks to me like Bt cotton in India is not a good advertisement for GMOs in the developing world.

    I appreciate the opportunity to have a discussion with you on this. People tend to get very emotionally invested in this topic.

    Lizzie

  43. #44 Neil Craig
    October 4, 2012

    Mal a serious, or even honest, response would be a welcome change here.

    Clearly, to be so it must contain your dissociation from liars such as Dean whose post claims that he has produced a different figure for malaria deaths and that Greg laden neverl lied about being a climate scientist & not paid by the state.

    Clearly, bt definition, no remotely honest person on his side here could fail to publicly dissociate themselves from the obscene, lying, fascist parasite and I am looking forward debating with some remotely honest “environmentalist” – one of these days.

  44. #45 J Bowers
    October 4, 2012

    Neil Craig, as a prominent member of UKIP you should pause for some more thought before slinging ‘Nazi’ and ‘fascist’ around like confetti.

  45. #46 Ewan R
    October 4, 2012

    no remotely honest person on his side here could fail to publicly dissociate themselves from the obscene, lying, fascist parasite

    Taking Neil’s sage advice here I’d like the audience to ignore the fact he agreed with my post, stopped clocks and all that.

  46. #47 Liz
    October 4, 2012

    If everyone on here thinks Neil is being a troll, why are you continuing to debate with him?

  47. #48 Liz
    October 4, 2012

    Ewan,
    it looks like my reply to your post has gotten caught up in moderation, probably due to links. Here it is without the links:

    Ewan,
    with reference to the definition of monoculture I would consider even the lower number you gave to be a monoculture. The point I’m making there is that if you have enormous fields growing one crop, ESPECIALLY if that crop has no genetic diversity, if a pest or disease gets going it can destroy the entire crop. If you have that same area, say 100acres, growing 5 different crops then the farmer is much less likely to lose everything. There’s then less need for either pesticides or Bt producing corn, and it is more likely that in an extreme weather event there will be something to harvest. Also, if many farmers are growing just one or two varieties of a crop, it is harder to come up with genes for more resistant plants in the future.

    My issue with the Bt-producing corn is that it seems better to me to use a pesticide only when required, rather than having the plant produce it all the time as I would expect resistance to take longer to develop. Mis, over and long-term use of antibiotics has been a major cause of bacteria developing resistance to antibiotics.

    On a slightly related note, I prefer to consume less in the way of pesticides rather than more. I know Bt is not supposed to have any harmful effect on mammals, but there are so many chemicals out in the environment due to human efforts and we don’t know all that much about their synergistic effects. It’s impossible to study their interactions in enough detail to know every possibility, and if something does go wrong it’s hard to trace to it’s source.

    I have heard of Monsanto’s drought efforts and it is certainly an improvement in goal over engineering corn to resist glyphosate, but they are very new and I’m not sure what results in the fields have been. Do you have more information on that?

    With reference to the Bt cotton, I seem to remember that it doesn’t repel pests very well if the plant is stressed, and that the combination of lack of repelling power and the high cost of the Bt cotton seed resulted in a rash of small farmer suicides. The 1st article below also alleges sheep and cattle deaths.

    Links went here. Obviously these aren’t peer-reviewed journal articles, but it looks to me like Bt cotton in India is not a good advertisement for GMOs in the developing world.

    I appreciate the opportunity to have a discussion with you on this. People tend to get very emotionally invested in this topic.

    Lizzie

  48. #49 dean
    October 4, 2012

    If everyone on here thinks Neil is being a troll, why are you continuing to debate with him?

    Good point. For me it is the natural disgust at being called a nazi.

    I need to force myself to remember the source of the outbursts.

  49. #50 J Bowers
    October 5, 2012

    Lies left unchallenged are successful lies.

  50. #51 Mal Adapted
    October 5, 2012

    Neil,

    Forget about my “serious response.” I’m just going to say the same thing I said on RealClimate: you are defending a fantasy of personal freedom that makes no allowances for other people, other species, or the physical limits of a crowded planet. No argument from intersubjectively-verifiable evidence can have any influence on you. By now that’s clear to all reality-based readers, so I’m just going to let you convict yourself.

  51. #52 grandmother watching
    Mi
    October 5, 2012

    Sharon’s writing about gmo’s and Monsanto is thought provoking and valuable. She doesn’t try to second guess Rachel Carson….thanks for the wisdom. As for so many of the comments, I see a private debate between a few noisy folks obscuring the value of the essay and of Rachel Carson’s work. I’d prefer Mal Adapted, Neil, and some others write their own personal blogs for name calling instead of using Sharon’s work. After reading through all these comments I find little of merit and will probably choose to just stick with Sharon’s writing after this. Time is short. Name calling uses up valuable time.

  52. #53 Neil Craig
    October 6, 2012

    Liz if you have actually read any pf this you will know perfectly well that nobody here has even attempted to debate anything because they & presumably you, know they cannot.

    Instead they go straight to insults thereby proving they are wholly corrupt Nazis. Except that, by supporting the genocide of 85 million people they have already proven that.

    This is why Mal is openly opposed to personal freedom and I favour it.

    And still nobody even pretends to have evidence of a single person being harmed by DDT, to justify their support of such genocide. Nor has anybody evebn attemopted to dkissociate themselves from lies of the the obscene child murdering Nazi animals here.

  53. #54 Mal Adapted
    October 6, 2012

    Neil:Now that my “serious” post has made it out of moderation (thanks, Sharon), you can read the Endocrine Society statement I linked therein. Do you think they’re pretending? Or are they “obscene child murdering Nazi animals?”

    Grandmother watching, you’re right about the name-calling, but wrong about the private debate. As J Bowers commented, “Lies left unchallenged are successful lies.” Neil hijacked Sharon’s post as he often does, for his own selfish reasons. He’s perpetuating the libels made against Carson in her lifetime, by those who reject any constraints on their greed. They should be always be challenged, not with name-calling but with documented facts, so that the uncommitted can judge for themselves.

  54. #55 Neil Craig
    October 8, 2012

    Mal asserts that the Endocrine Society provides the evidence of DDT hatming people.

    Well Mal having checked that link I caqn, once againsay that evet honest person on your side lof the argument has, once again, said that you are alying, genocidal Nazi parasite.

    The article is not specifically about DDT. DDT is generally mentioned only as one of 10s of thousands of other chenmicals & that “there is no known association between its exposure and prostate cancer risk”. The only thing linked specifically to DDT is its aphrodisiac effect on women (“?) which is so strange it would need serious confirmation and is not an unalloyed disbenefit.

    You have now made multiple claims that this time now you have proof of the claim that DDT has harmed people and on each occasion it has been proven worthless. Nobody else has done better.

    However one point has been made. The article you have put complete faith in does acknoewledge there was a DDT ban so, not beiing an obscene lying child murdering Nazi animal whom no remotely decent human beng could ever fail to denouce as scum, you must have already denounced the Nazi scum here who claimed there had never been any ban.

    Oops – looks like I am wrong – toy didn’t. Guess you are an obscene lying child murdering Nazi animal whom no remotely decent human beng could ever fail to denouce as scum

  55. #56 Mal Adapted
    October 8, 2012

    Neil:

    The article is not specifically about DDT. DDT is generally mentioned only as one of 10s of thousands of other chenmicals & that “there is no known association between its exposure and prostate cancer risk”. The only thing linked specifically to DDT is its aphrodisiac effect on women (“?) which is so strange it would need serious confirmation and is not an unalloyed disbenefit.

    Sigh. From the article:

    Prospective studies that measured exposure several years before cancer diagnosis revealed a positive link between breast cancer and chemical exposure to toxaphene (129) and DDT (130). In particular, a study linked DDT with an increased risk of breast cancer when the exposure was measured before 14 yr of age.

    Your first comment here was:

    We know that DDT has never harmed a human being

    Unless you can document that assertion, Hank would call it overpluralization, because you’re the only person that ‘knows’ it. The professional society of endocrinologists finds evidence that DDT may be harmful in humans. The burden of proof that it’s harmless is on you.

  56. #57 Steven Earl Salmony
    Chapel Hill, NC
    October 10, 2012

    For too long a time human population growth has been comfortably and pseudoscientifically viewed by politicians, economists and demographers as somehow outside the course of nature, somehow disconnected from the population dynamics of other evolved species on Earth. The possible causes of human population growth have seemed to them so complex, obscure and numerous, so they have said for many too many years, that an adequate understanding of the cause of human population growth, much less a strategy to address the emerging and converging ecological problems posed by the unbridled growth of the human species, has been assumed to be unapproachable. Their preternatural grasp of human population dynamics has lead to widely varied forecasts of human population growth. Some forecasting data indicate the end to human population growth soon. Other data suggest the rapid and continuous increase of human numbers ad infinitum, and like the endless expansion of the global economy, without adverse impacts. The dogmatic adherence of these politically correct experts to erroneous, unscientific theory regarding automatic population stabilization around the midpoint of Century XXI and a benign demographic transition to a good life for the human community at large cannot be accepted any longer as if it is based upon the best available evidence.

    Recent scientific evidence appears to indicate that the governing dynamics of absolute global human population numbers is knowable as a natural phenomenon. Despite all the misleading, intellectually dishonest and deliberately deceptive ‘scientific research’ to the contrary, Homo sapiens can be shown to be, and now seen, as a species that is a part of and definitely not separate from the natural world we inhabit. Experts in politics, economics and demography have consciously fostered and continue obdurately to countenance a perilous disconnect between ecological science and political economy. Perhaps politics, economics and demography are themselves disciplines that are fundamentally disconnected from science. They appear to have more in common with ideology rather than science. To suggest as many too many politicians, economists and demographers have been conveniently doing that understanding the dynamics of human population numbers does not matter, that the human population problem is not about numbers, or that human population dynamics has so dizzying an array of variables as not to be suitable for scientific investigation, seems wrongheaded and dangerous.

    According to research of Russell Hopfenberg, Ph.D., and David Pimentel, Ph.D., global population growth of the human species is a rapidly cycling positive feedback loop in which food availability drives population growth and the recent, skyrocketing growth in absolute global human numbers gives rise to the misconception or mistaken impression that food production needs to be increased even more. Data indicate that the world’s human population grows by approximately 2% per year. All segments of it grow by about two percent. Every year there are more people with brown eyes and more people with blue ones; more people who are tall as well as more short people. It also means that there are more people growing up well fed and more people growing up hungry. The hungry segment of the global population goes up just like the well-fed segment of the population. We may or may not be reducing hunger by increasing food production; however, we are most certainly producing more and more hungry people.

    Hopfenberg’s and Pimentel’s research suggests that the spectacularly successful efforts of humankind to increase food production in order to feed a growing population has resulted and continues to result in even greater human population numbers worldwide. The perceived need to increase food production to feed a growing population is a widely shared and consensually validated misperception, a denial both of the physical reality and the space-time dimension, a colossal misunderstanding. If people are starving at a given moment of time, increasing food production and then distributing it cannot help them. Are these starving people supposed to be waiting for sowing, growing and reaping to be completed? Are they supposed to wait for surpluses to reach them? Without food they would die. In such circumstances, increasing food production for people who are starving is like tossing parachutes to people who have already fallen out of the airplane. The produced food arrives too late. Even so, this realization does not mean human starvation is inevitable.

    Consider that the population dynamics of humankind is not biologically different from, but essentially common to the population dynamics of other species. Human organisms, non-human organisms and even microorganisms have similar population dynamics. In all cases the governing relationship between food supply and population numbers of any living thing is this: food is independent variable and population numbers is the dependent variable. We do not find hoards of starving roaches, birds, squirrels, alligators, or chimpanzees in the absence of food as we do in many “civilized” human communities today because non-human species and what we call “primitive” human communities are not engaged in food production. Please note that among tribes of people in remote original habitats, we do not find people starving. Like non-human species, “primitive” human beings live within the carrying capacity of their environment. History is replete with examples of early humans and more remote ancestors of “civilized” people not increasing their food production and distribution capabilities annually, but rather living successfully off the land for thousands upon thousands of years as hunters and gatherers of food. Prior to the Agricultural Revolution and the production of more food than was needed for immediate survival, human numbers supposedly could not grow beyond their environment’s physical capacity to sustain them because human population growth or decline is primarily determined by food availability. Looked at from a global population perspective, more food equals more human organisms; less food equals less human beings; and no food equals no people. The idea that food production must be increased to meet the needs of growing human population has been actually giving rise to skyrocketing human population numbers, not only since the Industrial Revolution but even more recently and intensively with the onset of the Green Revolution that began sixty years ago.

  57. #58 Neil Craig
    October 12, 2012

    Mal “may” is not the same as “does”.

    In fact statistical randomness makes it inevitable some subgroup of a subgroup is going to have more of something than average. What you are bringing up is a data dredge where they keep separating out the numbers – girls – under 14 – not under 15 or 13.

    Perhaps you could enlighten us all by saying exactly how many of the people in their sample were girls – and how many of those were under 14 – and how many of those got non-benign breast cancer, compared to what is expected among 14 year old girls. I would be really interested to know if your statistical sample is more than 1.

    And yet this rubbish is the very closest anybody has got to any evidence of DDT harming anybody.

    I do not believe that all the people on here are drooling morons (not even you Mal, determined though you are to use that as an excuse). In which case you all know that that I am correct.

    Nor is there any serious denial that the ban has killed in the region of 85 million people quire deliberately. And you are happy with that.

    Clearly there are much worse things to be than drooling morons.

    Steven you have boilerplated your rubbish everywhere. It is irrelevent (as well as being nonsense(.

  58. #59 J Bowers
    October 12, 2012

    “Nor is there any serious denial that the ban has killed in the region of 85 million people quire deliberately.”

    Complete bollocks. Your own pathway would have left mosquitoes resistant to DDT. Your accusation of genocide is bonkers tinfoilhattery of epic proportions, but only to be expected from an extreme anti-science political party that fields a science policy advisor who proposes scientists shouldn’t be allowed to practise unless they qualify as being religious (preferably Christian).

    You are the company you keep.

    “Mal “may” is not the same as “does”. “

    It’s precisely that kind of moronic thought process, incapable of risk assessment, that would have allowed the ozone layer to deplete before taking action on CFCs which, I’ll add, many of your libertarian-in-arms brethren would gladly have seen happen.

  59. #60 Mal Adapted
    October 12, 2012

    Neil,

    We know that DDT has never harmed a human being

    There is evidence that DDT may have harmed a human being. We’re still waiting for you to produce evidence that DDT has never harmed a human being (good luck with that).

  60. #61 dean
    October 13, 2012

    Neil,
    you clearly have no understanding of statistics or science. And the fact that you continue your unsubstantiated claim

    Nor is there any serious denial that the ban has killed in the region of 85 million people quire deliberately.

    shows again that you have no concern for honesty.

    Do I remember correctly that you’ve made similar comments that smoking has never been shown to cause harm?

  61. #62 Neil Craig
    October 17, 2012

    Thank you for that link Bowers it is a very interesting bit of philosophising & I assume you didn’t actually read it.

    The nearest it gets to what you claim is he says that scientists should have some ethical standards & that this is usually supplied by religion. I would agree that they should & though not religious myself would agree that it can be..

    Far from being a religious tract I quote

    “The reason why this belief – and it is no more than a belief – is permissible is that the laws of physics are now proven to have come into existence a minuscule fraction of a picosecond after the Big Bang. Therefore, all of our systems of measurement, which depend upon the laws of physics, are of no avail when we study the Big Bang: for they did not apply at the instant when it occurred.

    Accordingly, science can never prove wrong the proposition that it was Almighty God who, directly or indirectly, caused the Big Bang to occur and thus brought our universe into existence. Nor can it dismiss the notion that an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator might have designed the Big Bang to occur in just such a manner, and according to just such laws, as would allow the universe to unfold in accordance with His will.”

    To be fair Monckton is outstanding even among UKIP members. But I do not think Romney would have had the intellectual capacity to write such an article. I doubt if Obama would have had the capacity to read it all.

    On CFCs we were assured that so great was the danger & need for immediate action that even with an instant ban the ozone hole would continue expanding for at least 50 years.

    It didn’t.

    If you, or anybody here, or anywhere else, knows of a single worldwide eco-catastrophe story which turned out to be true please name it. Note that I have asked ecofascists this elsewhere with predictable results.

    If Dean had the evidence he claims he would produce it – indeed if he had any trace of personal integrity the lying Nazi scum would have produced it. He hasn’t.

    Nobody here has yet produced any actual evidence of DDT harming a single person – nor that the DDT ban the econazis support, did not kill around 85 million.

  62. #63 Wow
    October 17, 2012

    “Accordingly, science can never prove wrong the proposition that it was Almighty God”

    The null hypothesis is that no such entity exists, you must prove its existence.

  63. #64 Mal Adapted
    October 17, 2012

    Neil:

    Nobody here has yet produced any actual evidence of DDT harming a single person

    So you’re backpedaling on your earlier assertion:

    We know that DDT has never harmed a human being

    If you don’t like the evidence of harm that the Endocrine Society found, you must convince us that your expertise is greater than theirs. Otherwise, we must assume that you’re a victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect. For those unfamiliar with the D-K effect, Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill (e.g. Environmental Toxicology), incompetent people will:

    1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
    2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
    3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
    4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of
    skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.

    Note that the fourth feature offers hope for you. Training in the field of Environmental Toxicology to the needed level is going to be a lot of work for you, though. The rest of us, not afflicted with the D-K effect, can acknowledge that the Endocrine Society represents those with skill greater than our own, and move on.

  64. #65 Wow
    October 17, 2012

    “They cause tumors! Nonsense. There’s no plausible mechanism and when they do get a study, like this week’s joke of a study, it’s overblown and crap science. ”

    Mark, if that is overblown and crap science, then the science “proving” the safety of the product is ALSO overblown and crap science.

  65. #66 dean
    October 17, 2012

    NC – I did point out to you why your numbers were wrong, and I did give you the official numbers. The fact that you continue to lie speaks worlds about you, but since lying is what you do, no surprise. Maybe someone else can write, with small words and short sentences, small enough for you to digest, why simply calling people with whom you disagree Nazis does not make a reasonable argument.

    Am I correct about your denial that smoking is a danger? I honestly don’t remember, but it would be in line with your other groundless beliefs.

    Or, if you choose not to answer again, you could just go back to writing racist rants on your own site and associating with your own ilk.

  66. #67 Neil Craig
    October 19, 2012

    Dean you have never pointed out factually that anything I said was wrong – nor has any other ecofascist here.

    All you have done is assert and rant. Produce facts.

    Starting with some factual evidence that DDT has ever harmed a human being. Follow it up with some factual criticism of the calculation that econazi banning of DDT has killed 85 million. Then follow it up with some actual evidence that you are capable of understanding arithmetically, that if the calculation is not wrong, you econazis have murdered 85 million people.

    Mal you are a liar. You know DDT has never harmed a human being – I challenge you to prove you don’t.. If not you are an obscene wholly corrupt, child mudreing Nazi without the tiniest trace of human decency and every single “environmentlaist” here with the tinest trace of integrity has publicly dissociated themselves from such an anuimal.

    Is that backpedaled enough for you?

  67. #68 Wow
    October 19, 2012

    Where you say DDT was banned worldwide? Wrong. Factually wrong.

    “We know that DDT has never harmed a human being”

    Factually wrong.

    “On the other hand malaria deaths went from 50,000 a year to aroind 1.75 million”

    Factually wrong.

    “because of the “environmental” bans on the substance. ”

    Factually wrong

  68. #69 Mal Adapted
    October 19, 2012

    Neil:

    Mal you are a liar. You know DDT has never harmed a human being – I challenge you to prove you don’t.. If not you are an obscene wholly corrupt, child mudreing Nazi without the tiniest trace of human decency and every single “environmentlaist” here with the tinest trace of integrity has publicly dissociated themselves from such an anuimal.

    Is that backpedaled enough for you?

    Heh. I think we’re getting to him, Dean. This is fun. I wonder how long he’ll keep it up? Neil, I challenge you to prove that keeping the whole world covered in a thick layer of DDT is the only way to prevent malaria. I challenge you to prove you didn’t murder those 85 million people yourself. I challenge you to prove that you’re not Vlad the Impaler. I challenge you to prove you’re a human being, and not a spambot. Work on those, while I think of more ridiculous challenges.

  69. #70 Wow
    October 19, 2012

    Heck, why pick something so difficult.

    Why not just ask him to prove his name is Neil Craig.

  70. #71 dean
    October 20, 2012

    nc, you ignorant lying piece of human filth (language like that seems to be your stock in trade, perhaps it is all you understand)

    According to the world health organization,

    In 2010, malaria caused an estimated 655 000 deaths (with an uncertainty range of 537 000 to 907 000), mostly among African children.

    very far from your pulled out of your ass so you can get more air into your nose number. Projections from WHO indicate that the total number of deaths from malaria since the early 60s is less than 1/2 of the figure you made up. You need to work harder – your lies are continually getting easier to debunk.

    as has been pointed out many times here, ddt has not been banned worldwide. Its use is still allowed, but application to crops is discouraged, for various reasons – most of which seem to be too complicated for your intellect (and lack of integrity) to comprehend. The Stockholm Convention of 2001, which I am guessing you are basing your lies upon, does not ban the use of DDT, but lays out regulations and cautions.

    Not that facts will mean anything to you – you demonstrated that here several times, and truly demonstrated in the rhetorical ass-whipping you got when you spouted your stupidity at Greg Laden’s blog. So, continue to rant, but realize (can you realize anything, or are you like a bad science-fiction blob of semi-life, one that responds blindly to pokes and jabs but shows no signs of intelligence?) everyone here knows, and has known for some time, what you are.

    By the way, your continued avoidance of answering the question about your stand on smoking and health is beginning to speak loudly. (So will your complaint about being insulted and having people respond rudely. Note that nobody has referred to you as a Nazi, and I hope that continues to be so. That level of insane behavior belongs to people like you.)

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