WSJ spreads DDT ban myth

The Wall Street Journal editorial board is infamous for their reckless disregard of the evidence for global warming. They’ve just published an op-ed by Pete Du Pont which manages to get pretty well every single factual claim wrong. As with most of these things, correcting every single false claim would result in a post about five times as long as the original piece, so I will just do some of the more egregious ones.

Solar radiation is reducing Mars’s southern icecap, which has been shrinking for three summers despite the absence of SUVS and coal-fired electrical plants anywhere on the Red Planet.

See Coby Beck.

environmental scholar Bjorn Lomborg, citing a 1997 atmosphere-ocean general circulation model, observes that “the increase in direct solar irradiation over the past 30 years is responsible for about 40 percent of the observed global warming.”

Classic cherry picking. Why cite a ten year old study? The graphs in the new IPCC report show that climate models indicate that all of the warming in the last fifty years was man-made.

According to “Climate Change and Its Impacts,” a study published last spring by the National Center for Policy Analysis, the ice mass in Greenland has grown, and “average summer temperatures at the summit of the Greenland ice sheet have decreased 4 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since the late 1980s.”

Gee, who should you believe, Du Pont’s own think tank, or NASA Satellites?

Data gathered by a pair of NASA satellites orbiting Earth show Greenland continued to lose ice mass at a significant rate through April 2006, and that the rate of loss is accelerating, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study.

The study indicates that from April 2004 to April 2006, Greenland was shedding ice at about two and one-half times the rate of the previous two-year period, according to CU-Boulder researchers Isabella Velicogna and John Wahr. The researchers used measurements taken with the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, to calculate that Greenland lost roughly 164 cubic miles of ice from April 2004 to April 2006 — more than the volume of water in Lake Erie.

The new study, published in the Sept. 21 issue of Nature, follows on the heels of a study published in Science in August by a University of Texas at Austin team using GRACE that showed Greenland lost 57 cubic miles of ice annually from 2002 to 2005. The new CU-Boulder study indicates the speed-up in ice mass loss charted by the researchers has been occurring primarily in southern Greenland, said Velicogna. …

Studies by several research groups indicate temperatures in southern Greenland have risen by about 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the past two decades, she said.

Back to Du Pont.

the IPCC has halved its estimate of the rise in sea level by the end of this century, to 17 inches from 36.


The IPCC confirms its 2001 conclusion that global warming will have little effect on the number of typhoons or hurricanes the world will experience

Gee, that’s more than a bit deceitful. They concluded that intense tropical cyclone activity is likely to increase. It’s the intense cyclones that do almost all the damage…

The IPCC does not explain why from 1940 to 1975, while carbon dioxide emissions were rising, global temperatures were falling

Yes they do. Aerosols.

And then Du Pont trots out the DDT ban myth:

Sometimes the consequences of bad science can be serious. In a 2000 issue of Nature Medicine magazine, four international scientists observed that “in less than two decades, spraying of houses with DDT reduced Sri Lanka’s malaria burden from 2.8 million cases and 7,000 deaths [in 1948] to 17 cases and no deaths” in 1963. Then came Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” invigorating environmentalism and leading to outright bans of DDT in some countries. When Sri Lanka ended the use of DDT in 1968, instead of 17 malaria cases it had 480,000.

Sri Lanka didn’t end the use of DDT in 1968. They switched from DDT to Malathion in 1975, not because of environmentalism, but because the mosquitoes had developed resistance and DDT was no longer effective.

With his characteristic carelessness, Andrew Bolt swallowed Du Pont’s story, but gets taken to pieces by his commenters.


  1. #1 Thom
    February 22, 2007

    Uh-oh….You started talking about hurricanes which is likely to invoke the wrath of Roger Pielke Jr. He’s been riding a wave of press coverage on hurricane damages for a couple of years now, based on some study he published in Energy & Environment.

  2. #2 bigTom
    February 22, 2007

    Well he was almost partially right about Greenland. The interior of the ice sheet is thickening. This is expected from climate models as increased temperatures and increased precipitation are predicted/observed. Of course the loss of ice near the edges has more than cancelled out the increase in the interior.
    The “best” lies contain partial truths.

  3. #3 theo
    February 22, 2007

    They even spelled “Pierre” wrong!

  4. #4 richard
    February 22, 2007

    Oh God, I suppose that means there will be another “DDT ban kills millions” column by Margaret Wente in the Toronto Globe and Mail!

  5. #5 JB
    February 22, 2007

    The WSG editorial board has no credibility left on any subject.

    Everyone with a brain knows that — even the real journalists who work at WSG.

  6. #6 RightWingRocker
    February 22, 2007

    Tell you what, everyone.

    Let’s all start up our cars, and especially SUVs – everyone in America, no hell let’s make it everyone in the world – and rev up the engines for fifteen minutes full throttle Next Tuesday at the same time.

    We’ll all die within the hour, and there won’t be anything to worry about now will there?



  7. #7 llewelly
    February 22, 2007

    – everyone in America, no hell let’s make it everyone in the world – and rev up the engines for fifteen minutes full throttle Next Tuesday at the same time.

    ‘at the same time’ means very little. CO2 has a long residence time and takes decades to do its damage. Finally – 15 min engine revving is probably equivalent to morning rush hour traffic. Not good, but it would take a long time to kill someone.
    I’m sorry, but your bizarrely distorted depictions of your opponents views make your own cause appear foolish.

  8. #8 Dano
    February 22, 2007


    you obviously didn’t check RWR’s vanity site before replying to him. How do I know it’s a him? I made the mistake of visiting his site. I’ll never get that 30 seconds back, ever.



  9. #9 Steve Reuland
    February 22, 2007

    Classic cherry picking. Why cite a ten year old study?

    Better question: Why cite Lomborg who cites a ten year old study? When did looking things up yourself become too much work?

  10. #10 Dano
    February 22, 2007


    Why cite Lomborg who cites a ten year old study

    Another question: why read someone who calls him environmental scholar Bjorn Lomborg?




  11. #11 Ender
    February 23, 2007

    From the op-ed piece:

    “When Eric the Red led the Norwegian Vikings to Greenland in the late 900s, it was an ice-free farm country–grass for sheep and cattle, open water for fishing, a livable climate–so good a colony that by 1100 there were 3,000 people living there.”

    I cannot see how people can be this stupid. I have encountered this before and it still throws me.

    An ice free paradise!!! I wonder if it had hula girls as well?

  12. #12 guthrie
    February 23, 2007

    Seeing as I’ve recently read that chapter in “Collapse” by Jared Diamond, I’d like to point out that Greenland was not in fact particularly good for cattle. The cattle could only be kept by the richest members of the settlement, and had to be pampered by being kept indoors and fed on hay for the winter, simply because there was insufficient food for them otherwise. The open water thing- well they had to travel for days to the North to be able to hunt seals, and for some reason they never really got into fishing, which restricted their protein supplies somewhat.
    Liveable is relative. You can live in the stone age, with no metal tools, but I wouldn’t want to do it, would you?

  13. #13 JB
    February 23, 2007

    “Right Wing Rocker” reminds me of the names that kids come up with for themselves in junior high.

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