John Berlau has responded to my post on his accusations that environmentalists were racists. Berlau starts by describing me as:

a computer science professor who fancies himself an expert on everything from DDT to climate change.

Berlau, I should note, is a journalist with (to my knowledge) no scientific training who fancies himself as an expert on everything from DDT to hurricanes. Berlau also thinks he knows more about biology than Rachel Carson, who was an actual biologist:

Lambert is one of the “DDT deniers” I reference in my book Eco-Freaks: Environmentalism Is Hazardous to Your Health. Following the lead of his idol, Silent Spring author Rachel Carson, Lambert continues to promote the untruth that third-world countries ceased using DDT because the insecticide became ineffective due to mosquito resistance.

But here’s what a standard malaria text book (Malaria: Principles and Practice of Malariology) says:

[In Sri Lanka] the malaria situation deteriorated once more between 1972 and 1975. Apart from operational and administrative shortcomings, the main reason for this second increase was the development of vector resistance to DDT, to such an extent that it was necessary to change to the more expensive malathion in 1977.

Nor did Rachel Carson, writing in 1962, say that any country has stopped using DDT because of resistance. What she did do was warn that overuse of pesticides would lead to the development of resistance and to avoid this:

It is more sensible in some cases to take a small amount of damage in preference to having none for a time but paying for it in the long run by losing the very means of fighting [is the advice given in Holland by Dr Briejer in his capacity as director of the Plant Protection Service]. Practical advice should be ‘Spray as little as you possibly can’ rather than Spray to the limit of your capacity’ …, Pressure on the pest population should always be as slight as possible.

Berlau continues with:

Eco-Freaks explains the concept of resistance and details Carson and Lambert’s misunderstanding and/or misrepresentations of these facts. (Tim, to use an analogy from your field of computer science, you wouldn’t forgo the best antivirus software simply because a hacker could develop a new super-virus that could get around it.)

Berlau has simply misunderstood Carson. She did not say that you should not use pesticides because insects could develop resistance, but that the more pesticide you use, the more selection pressure you put on insects to evolve resistance, and that consequently you should use insecticides sparingly. The fact that Berlau made this error suggest that he doesn’t really understand the concept of natural selection.

Now to Berlau’s defence of his claims that environmentalists were racists. Berlau:

In my post, I included the allegation of EDF’s original attorney Victor Yannacone that EDF’s chief scientist Charles Wurster said that the side effects of the DDT ban were nothing to worry about because a more acutely toxic DDT substitute “only kills farm workers, and most of them are Mexicans and Negroes.” I also noted that Wurster denied making this statement.

Lambert asserts that “after Yannacone was fired by the EDF, he came up with the claim” and calls it “the unsupported statement of a man with an axe to grind.” …

I see no reason why I should assume automatically that Yannacone has any less credibility than Wurster. After he left EDF, Yannacone went on to become one of the most prominent environmental attorneys. He successfully argued the case for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange in their lawsuit against Dow Chemical.

Actually, Yannacone didn’t win the case but was ousted from it:

Victor Yannacone Jr., the Patchogue lawyer who filed the first case in 1979 and represented Ryan and others around the country, said he looks back with great disappointment.

“The attorneys who settled this case, sold out the children,” said Yannacone, who was ousted in a dispute with other attorneys before the deal.

Hey, same pattern as with EDF: Yannacone does not work well with others and after he gets the boot, he bad mouths them.

And as for his being “fired” by EDF, as Lambert confidently asserts, Yannacone maintains that he resigned — and did so precisely because of what he saw as the callousness of Wurster and others at EDF toward the disadvantaged. When I interviewed Yannacone last year for Eco-Freaks, he told me, “It was one of the things that led to my parting from the Environmental Defense Fund: their total insensitivity to people who were poorer and less well educated.”

At the time though, he said something different. Science (Dec 26 1969, p 1603):

Earlier, EDF had rejected as unpromising
Yannacone’s proposal to bring a $30-billion damage
suit against DDT manufacturers as a “class action” on
behalf of all citizens of the United States; Yannacone
finally filed this action with his wife as plaintiff.
The Long Island Press recently quoted Yannacone as
attributing his problems with EDF partly to this suit,
which he said some trustees regarded as an embarrassment
to EDF in its efforts to obtain a grant from the
Ford Foundation. However, according to Reginald C.
Smith, an attorney EDF hired several months ago to
represent it in its dealings with its general counsel, the
suit had nothing to do with the “strained relations” between
EDF and Yannacone. The trouble, he said, grew
out of Yannacone’s “evident lack of respect [for] the
EDF trustees” and his failure to take direction.

Roderick A. Cameron of Stony Brook, an attorney
and executive director of EDF, told Science that EDF
was getting a “bad deal” and that Yannacone, who,
besides representing EDF, has carried on a private law
practice of his own, had not been doing enough work
for EDF to earn his $5,000-a-month retainer.

Back to Berlau:

Do I know for certain that Yannacone’s charges against Wurster are accurate? No I don’t. And neither does Lambert know for sure that Wurster’s version is the truth, given that neither one of us were privy to the original exchange.

Berlau seems to have skated over this part of my post, perhaps because he has no answer to it:

It seems that after Yannacone was fired by the EDF, he came up with the claim that Wurster made the statement above at a press conference. At a press conference. You would think that an outrageous statement like that would have been reported by at least one reporter, but no, there is no contemporary record of him saying it, just the unsupported statement of a man with an axe to grind.

It’s not a question of he said/he said as Berlau tires to make it appear. If Wurster had really said what Yannacone claims, then there were witnesses who would have reported the story, and EDF’s enemies would have made sure that the matter was not forgotten.

Next we turn to John Muir. Despite Berlau’s artful quoting, not even his colleague at CEI, Eli Lehrer believed the the charge of racism:

The quotation from Muir that you cite perfectly reflects his romantic mindset: he had strong, personal emotions about the world and wanted to share them. He understood the majesty of nature, talked about it forthrightly, and sought to preserve it for its own sake.

Berlau claims that this article by Klingle and Taylor supports his charge of racism against Muir, but what they criticise him for is elitism and say:

some of the most venerated conservationists and environmentalists demonstrated a decidedly misanthropic streak.

They are certainly not afraid to criticize Muir, and the fact that the don’t criticize him for racism completely undercuts Berlau’s argument.

Next we have Paul Ehrlich. On page 82 of the Population Bomb I found this quote, where he doesn’t call for sterilization, but argues that an Indian proposal for this would not work.

What about vasectomies? A few years ago, there was talk in India of compulsory sterilization for all males who were fathers of three or more children. Ignore for a moment the socio-political problems that would be raised by such a program. Consider just the logistic problems, as A.S. Parkes did. Even if those eligible could be rounded up, it would take 1,000 surgeons or para-surgeons operating eight hours a day, five days a week, a full eight years to sterilize the candidates who exist today. And the stock of candidates is growing very rapidly. Can you picture the probably results of a government attempt to sterilize 40 million American males? What a problem it would be in our country, with its relatively informed populace and efficient transport and communications system! Imagine such an attempt in India, where the difference between castration and sterilization (still not clear to many Westerners) would be almost impossible to explain. As one might expect, the principal Indian official thinking in such tough-minded terms, Dr. S. Chandrasekur, ended up in a less influential position in a government shuffle.

I thought that this was another case where the full quote did not support Berlau’s claims and said so. I was wrong. Berlau quotes from page 151:

When he suggested sterilizing all Indian males with three or more children, we should have applied pressure on the Indian government to go ahead with the plan. We should have volunteered logistic support in the form of helicopters, vehicles, and surgical instruments. We should have sent doctors to aid in the program by setting up centers for training para-medical personnel to do vasectomies. Coercion? Perhaps, but coercion in a good cause.

I don’t why, after deciding that the plan was unworkable, he said that the US should support it anyway, but he did. I don’t agree with forced sterilization and Ehrlich seems to have backed away from it now.

In any event, the Ehrlich quote does not support Berlau’s charge of racism.

Finally, Alexander King. Berlau comes up with an ridiculously strained interpretation of King’s last sentence:

Lambert takes me to task for leaving out King’s next sentence, which was, “Of course I can’t play God on that one.” Lambert then charges, “Berlau made it look like King was arguing that [the] Guyanese should have been left to die from malaria by leaving out the sentence where King made it clear that he didn’t want that.”

I don’t know, Tim. To me, and to some of your other commenters, it sure sounded like King was saying that if he were God, this result is exactly what he would want.

Yeah, right. If you really believed that you wouldn’t have left the sentence out.

And indeed, this is the result that happened when environmentalists got to play God and pushed through polices that curtailed DDT’s use in the Third World.

Once again Berlau demonstrates that he doesn’t understand natural selection. Ending the agricultural use of DDT saved lives by slowing the development of resistance.

Besides, if King didn’t really desire this result, why did he express this desire in the first place with his complaint about the “population problem” that DDT created.

He didn’t express a desire for such a result. You can be concerned about the “population problem” without wanting to solve it by killing people. Maybe King felt that promoting birth control would help? Maybe Berlau could have found out King’s views by reading more than a paragraph from him?

Comments

  1. #1 dsquared
    May 5, 2007

    hahaha, “DDT denialists”, I love it. Can we get a badge made?

  2. #2 Thom
    May 5, 2007

    John Berlau describing Lambert: a computer science professor who fancies himself an expert on everything from DDT to climate change.

    Besides the fact that Berlau gets everything wrong and Lambert works hard to do the opposite, there is one other notable difference between the two. Berlau’s opinions on environmentalism regularly appear in the national media, in publications such as Investor’s Business Daily and TV programs hosted by CNBC, MSNBC, and Fox News.

    So one would expect that Berlau would be well prepared to deal with the subject matter. That is, after all, his purported profession.

    Meanwhile, Lambert researches these issues in his spare time, and then writes about them on a blog. But he pays the mortgage through his job as a computer scientist.

    So how does it feel, Mr. Berlau, to be proven wrong by a hobbyist?

  3. #3 Thom
    May 5, 2007

    I pose the same question to Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., who is regularly cited in the press as an environmental scientist and sometimes as a climate scientist.

    How does it feel to be proven wrong by a guy who works on your area of expertise as a hobby?

  4. #4 QrazyQat
    May 5, 2007

    How does it feel to be proven wrong by a guy who works on your area of expertise as a hobby?

    Well, it’s still better than Tim Blair being beaten out, knowledgewise, by a six-year old. :)

  5. #5 Ian Gould
    May 5, 2007

    “But here’s what a standard malaria text book (Malaria: Principles and Practice of Malariology) says:”

    But Tim all you’re doing is digging up a lot of boring old facts.

    Berlau, like such commentators here as Nanny-govt-sucks has no need for such trivia when he has The Truth.

  6. #6 tom
    May 5, 2007

    Oh, No! Facts! You know wingnuts can’t deal with facts!

  7. #7 Paul Smith
    May 6, 2007

    Lambert makes an embarrasing gaff but it takes him hundreds of words to finally admit he was wrong. What a big man. At least the fan club are as worshipful as ever.

  8. #8 Paul G.
    May 6, 2007

    === Tim Lambert says in his post above: ===

    “Once again Berlau demonstrates that he doesn’t understand natural selection. Ending the agricultural use of DDT saved lives by slowing the development of resistance.”
    =================================================

    But did environmental groups ever argue for this distinction (no agricultural use of DDT) concerning the use of DDT?

    I remember the vocal opposition of environmental organizations calling for the complete banning of the use of DDT worldwide. Not once do I recall environmental groups advocating a balanced, sensible, logical or coherent approach to DDT and malaria control.

    Regards,

  9. #9 Thom
    May 6, 2007

    Hey guys, just wondering if you were really trying to say anything, or if both comments are just typical, run-of-the-mill, average, everyday trolls.

    I’m gonna’ put aside my cynicism and take it at face value that you’re not trolling, and ask you to cite some evidence.

    Paul Smith: Please cite Lambert’s “embarrassing gaff.”

    Paul G.: Mainstream science has found that limitted spraying of DDT, meaning on the inside walls of residences, can be effective at controlling malaria while potentially limitting harm to wildlife. Please cite an environmental group that has opposed such a targetted program.

  10. #10 Alex Higgins
    May 6, 2007

    Exhibit:

    “Lambert makes an embarrasing gaff but it takes him hundreds of words to finally admit he was wrong. What a big man. At least the fan club are as worshipful as ever.”

    Observe argument-dodging and psychological projection in action. And as Steven Poole would conjugate the verb:

    I hold an independently-derived, rational view

    You mindlessly worship a guru

    He, She mindlessly worships a guru

  11. #11 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    Thom:

    “Besides the fact that Berlau gets everything wrong….

    So how does it feel, Mr. Berlau, to be proven wrong by a hobbyist?”

    From Lambert’s post (which you obviously didn’t read), he wrote:

    “I was wrong.”

    DOH!

  12. #12 Thom
    May 6, 2007

    TomB, the issue at hand is whether Berlau has found evidence that Ehrlich was racist. Not whether there is evidence that Ehrlich once supported forced sterilization.

    Read the complete post. Follow the argument. And quit trolling.

    My offer still stands for the two Pauls. It’s Sunday and I’m feeling forgiving.

  13. #13 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    Thom, I will quote you AGAIN:

    “Besides the fact that Berlau gets everything wrong….”

    I think it is obvious that he didn’t get “everything” wrong. And that is a point of fact in this argument. Whether or not he is racist is an opinion that must be supported by the facts. That Lambert got such an easily researched point completely wrong doesn’t speak well for him.

  14. #14 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    BTW, that answers your first question to Paul Smith regarding Lambert’s “embarrassing gaff.”

    He bases his defense of Erlich on that one point, and he is forced to correct it.

  15. #15 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    Here are your environmental groups who want an outright ban on DDT:

    From Beyond Pesticides (http://www.beyondpesticides.org/DDT/beyondDDT.pdf)

    The world community has agreed to phase out DDT in an international treaty. We strongly support the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants’ call for the ultimate elimination of DDT, while allowing short term use of this persistent and bioaccumulative pesticide in countries that demonstrate an immediate need. The treaty also calls on the international community to mobilize resources to help put safer and more effective alternatives inplace. The 144 governments around the world that are parties to the Stockholm Convention have endorsed this approach.

    We, the undersigned, call on the U.S. government to actively promote safe and effective malaria control that protects children and families around the world.

    Signatories:

    AGENDA for Environment and Responsible Development,Tanzania
    Advocates for Environmental Human Rights
    Alaska Community Action on Toxics
    Beyond Pesticides
    Black Family Land Trust
    The Black Leadership Forum
    Center for Biological Diversity
    Center for
    Center for International Environmental Law
    Center for Food Safety
    Citizens Environmental Coalition
    Indigenous Environmental Network

    _________________________

    There are 30 or so more signatorites at the link. I didn’t want to type them all.
    International Indian Treaty Council Native Movement

  16. #16 Bongob
    May 6, 2007

    An outright ban? It says “while allowing short term use of this persistent and bioaccumulative pesticide in countries that demonstrate an immediate need”.

  17. #17 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    Yes, an outright ban:

    “the ultimate elimination of DDT”

    It cannot, in any way shape, matter or form, get ANY clearer than that.

    The rest are just weasel words. Perhaps you can tell us what “short term” means?

  18. #18 Bongob
    May 6, 2007

    Ohhhh those weasel words. I hate those. They’re the worst. I find it easier to ignore them, and just read the ones that support my opinion, even if I post weasel words that contradict it. But no, it gets worse!
    “The treaty also calls on the international community to mobilize resources to help put safer and more effective alternatives inplace.”

    More worse Weasels! Fetch the frying pan!

  19. #19 Thom
    May 6, 2007

    TomB, you’re starting to irritate me now. The issue at point is not whether Berlau is a racist, but if Ehrlich is a racist. Are you aware that they are not the same person?

    Again, I repeat. Read the complete post. Follow the argument. And quit trolling.

    As for your citation on the DDT ban. My question, once again, “Mainstream science has found that limitted spraying of DDT, meaning on the inside walls of residences, can be effective at controlling malaria while potentially limitting harm to wildlife. Please cite an environmental group that has opposed such a targetted program.”

    You citation does not address the issue of environmentalists seeking a ban of DDT for indoor spraying or bednets.

    Again, for those not taking their meds. Read post; follow argument; quit trolling.

  20. #20 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    “You citation does not address the issue of environmentalists seeking a ban of DDT for indoor spraying or bednets.”

    Here is the quote AGAIN!:

    “The world community has agreed to phase out DDT in an international treaty. We strongly support the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants’ call for the ultimate elimination of DDT, while allowing short term use of this persistent and bioaccumulative pesticide in countries that demonstrate an immediate need. The treaty also calls on the international community to mobilize resources to help put safer and more effective alternatives inplace.”

    Uh, if DDT is banned, it won’t be available for indoor spraying. They only support the use of DDT in the “short term”.

    You said:

    “Mainstream science has found that limitted spraying of DDT, meaning on the inside walls of residences, can be effective at controlling malaria while potentially limitting harm to wildlife. Please cite an environmental group that has opposed such a targetted program.”

    Obviously, these groups oppose the program, seeing as how they want to ban DDT.

  21. #21 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    Bongob, this issue isn’t whether they want to fight malaria, it is whether the want to ban DDT. They say they would allow short term use, but only as a prelude to a outright ban. Thom said that no environmental groups oppose limited spraying of DDT. Well, given that they want to ban it, it seem logical that they don’t support limited spraying.

  22. #22 cce
    May 6, 2007

    Since they would allow short term use, it seems logical that they support limited spraying. Since everyone agrees that DDT has significant disadvantages, everyone should agree that its use should be limited, and that it should eventually be replaced (and banned) by something better.

  23. #23 Thom
    May 6, 2007

    “while allowing short term use of this persistent and bioaccumulative pesticide in countries that demonstrate an immediate need.”

    TomB…troll.

    Here’s a funny thought. Why is that the only time when right-wingers start foaming at the mouth over the myriad of problems in Africa is when DDT comes up?

    Better yet, why is it that American right-wingers constantly seek to defund and deny access to social programs that obviously benefit Blacks such as Head Start or Affirmative Action, but get apoplectic about the plight of Africans not having access to DDT?

  24. #24 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    “Since everyone agrees that DDT has significant disadvantages,”

    I don’t agree. Can you support that statement?

    The original post by Thom stated that “Mainstream science has found that limitted spraying of DDT, meaning on the inside walls of residences, can be effective at controlling malaria while potentially limitting harm to wildlife.” I believe that is saying that “mainstream science” doesn’t agree that it should be replaced.

  25. #25 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    “Here’s a funny thought. Why is that the only time when right-wingers start foaming at the mouth over the myriad of problems in Africa is when DDT comes up?”

    Why is it that you can’t address the issue at hand? You call me a troll, but I’m the only one who bothered to give a link to prove my point.

    Now, if mainstream science has found that DDT can be used in limited situations, why do all those environmental groups call for its banning?

  26. #26 ponte
    May 6, 2007

    “Better yet, why is it that American right-wingers constantly seek to defund and deny access to social programs that obviously benefit Blacks such as Head Start or Affirmative Action, but get apoplectic about the plight of Africans not having access to DDT?”

    Wait, let me guess, does it have anything to do with Reagan starting his 1980 presidential campaign by advocating ‘States Rights’ in Philadelphia, Mississippi? No wait, maybe it has something to do with Trent Lott’s belief that segregation would have avoided “all these problems”? Nah, that can’t be it. It must be because the rising tide of the unfettered free market lifts all boats. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

  27. #27 ponte
    May 6, 2007

    “Now, if mainstream science has found that DDT can be used in limited situations, why do all those environmental groups call for its banning?”

    Probably because “limited situations” tend to get short shrift when it becomes expedient, especially on a continent where short-term goals dominate the fabric of society. Not to mention that there are plenty of other less harmful ways to control mosquito populations.

  28. #28 melaleuca
    May 6, 2007

    I checked the WWF’s archival documents re DDT anhere’s what they actually say about the Stockholm Convention on DDT:

    “The Stockholm POPs Convention, a treaty to phase out persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including DDT, is currently open for ratification. WWF welcomes this historic agreement which involved provisions for phasing out DDT, while still allowing for its continued limited use for malaria control.http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/policy/toxics/problems/our_chemical_world/ddt/index.cfm

    It is simply untrue to say environmental groups like WWF called for an outright ban on the use of DDT.

  29. #29 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    “Probably because “limited situations” tend to get short shrift when it becomes expedient, especially on a continent where short-term goals dominate the fabric of society.”

    In all honesty, I have no idea what you are trying to say there.

    “Not to mention that there are plenty of other less harmful ways to control mosquito populations.”

    How is DDT harmful? And what are the “better ways”?

    You seem to be proving my point to Thom, though. He says that scientists agree that DDT can be used in limited situations with little or no harm to the environment, I see you feel differently.

    Perhaps you two should be debating.

  30. #30 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    “It is simply untrue to say environmental groups like WWF called for an outright ban on the use of DDT.”

    I don’t recall anybody saying the WWF did. However, other groups, as demonstrated by the post above, have called for the eventual ban of DDT.

  31. #31 Thom
    May 6, 2007

    TomB….troll, with a bonus dash of insipidity, borne of diligence in ignoring fact.

  32. #32 TomB
    May 6, 2007

    Are you going to answer my questions or are you going to continue to shout “troll”. Because it really does nothing to advance you argument.

  33. #33 ponte
    May 6, 2007

    “In all honesty, I have no idea what you are trying to say there.”

    I don’t think it was so hard to understand. Limited use of DDT is fine IMHO, but what’s to prevent abuse of those limits?

    “How is DDT harmful?”

    http://www.mos.org/events_activities/videocasts&d=1160

    “And what are the ‘better ways’?”

    http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/control_prevention/vector_control.htm

  34. #35 Thom
    May 6, 2007

    TomB….You pulled 4 responses out of me and you never addressed a single one of my points. And you ignored evidence that cce, melaleuca, Bongob, and ponte that countered your ridiculous claims.

    TomB, you dirty little troll. You tricked me 4 times. But you’ll never trick me again.

  35. #36 Ian Gould
    May 7, 2007

    “Perhaps you can tell us what “short term” means?”
    http://www.pops.int/documents/convtext/convtext_en.pdf

    “The Parties, within their capabilities, to promote research and development of safe alternative
    chemical and non-chemical products, methods and strategies for Parties using DDT, relevant to the
    conditions of those countries and with the goal of decreasing the human and economic burden of disease.
    Factors to be promoted when considering alternatives or combinations of alternatives shall include the
    human health risks and environmental implications of such alternatives. Viable alternatives to DDT shall
    pose less risk to human health and the environment, be suitable for disease control based on conditions in the
    Parties in question and be supported with monitoring data.”

    There’s a review every three years of the continuing need for DDT and a minimum three year phase-out if its determined suitable alternatives exist.

    Additionally, only 148 out of about 200 countries have signed the agreement and any signatory country that’s dissatisfied can simply withdraw from the Convention.

    It took me about five minutes o find all that.

    Maybe you could have found it yourself if you weren’t so busy trolling.

  36. #37 Jeff Harvey
    May 7, 2007

    Paul G proves his pro-coporate anti-environmetal views when he writes “Not once do I recall environmental groups advocating a balanced, sensible, logical or coherent approach to DDT and malaria control”.

    Note that he included the words “balanced” and “sensible”. This is straight out of the corporate school of greenwash. You’ll see words like these bandied about endlessly by corporate funded astroturf groups, think tanks and PR firms. The father of anti-environmental PR, E. Bruce Harrison, pioneered the use of ‘rational language’ in promoting environmental deregulation which was effectively aimed at eviscerating public control in the pursuit of private profit. I’ve given many lectures over the years illustrating PR strategies at legitimizing rapacious corporate practices, and Paul G.’s post just makes my point even stronger. Harrisons’ sneaky tactic, gleaned from PR guru Edward Bernays, was to argue that if the anti-environmental lobby can make themselves look to be rational, thoughtful, balanced, and sensible, then they would make their opponents look like a bunch of fanatics. This is part of the ‘paradigm shift’.

    A whole slew of anti-environmetal organizations and lobbying groups cropped up during the 1980’s and 1990’s with names like ‘Sensible this’ and “Sound that’ and ‘Rational this’ etc. It is known as ‘aggressive mimicry’. All Paul G has done is to reveal his hand in this debate.

  37. #38 Jeff Harvey
    May 7, 2007

    One last point, which fits in with my last point:

    John Berlau is director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    If this doesn’t fully demolish any shred of credibility the guy might have in any scientific debate involving regulation, then I don’t know what does. The guy works for a think tank that receives huge amounts of corporate money. This is old hat, but if I am a lawyer, and I get paid a huge amount of money from a client, who am I working for?

    My advice to Tim L. is that you’re wasting your breath responding to verbiage peddled by the Berlau’s, Ebell’s, Bailey’s, Fumento’s etc. in this world.

  38. #39 Paul G.
    May 7, 2007

    ==== Post # 37 Jeff Harvey said: ====
    “Paul G proves his pro-coporate anti-environmetal views when he writes “Not once do I recall environmental groups advocating a balanced, sensible, logical or coherent approach to DDT and malaria control”.”===================

    My, aren’t you a touchy one Jeff. And to boot, you’re a mind reader!

    Left unanswered by you is the question of whether environmental groups did advocate a balanced approach to DDT, or did they work mostly for an outright ban worldwide.

    I appreciate the fact that groups like the WWF and Sierra both endorse the limited use of DDT now, but what were their policies and positions on DDT 10 or 15 years ago?

    ===========================

    ==== Jeff Harvey further states: ====
    “Note that he included the words “balanced” and “sensible”. This is straight out of the corporate school of greenwash.”==================

    Eh? The words “balanced” and “sensible have been around a long time. Lots of people use those two words. I sense a touch of paranoia Jeff.

    ============================

    ==== Jeff Harvey states: ====
    “I’ve given many lectures over the years illustrating PR strategies at legitimizing rapacious corporate practices, and Paul G.’s post just makes my point even stronger.”=====

    Well bully for you!. But in case you hadn’t noticed, the thread is discussing the use of DDT and how the stigmatization of DDT may have cost lives worldwide.

    Do you have any comments on THAT? Or are you going to engage
    in more nonsensical ranting?

    Regards,

  39. #40 Jeff Harvey
    May 8, 2007

    Talk about touchy, Paul! You wear your heart on your sleeve and it bothers you when somebody recognizes it! As I said, terms like ‘balanced’, ‘sound’, ‘rational’, and ‘sensible’ are plucked straight from the corporate lobbying groups. There’s nothing at all sensible or rational about their real agenda. The real culprit is poverty and the massive disprotion in wealth distribtion between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ – which the think tanks are not at all interested in addressing.

    Tim L has demolished all of the myths surrounding the use of DDT. Let’s be clear here – those advocating its use are in no way doing so because they care about the poor in the underdeveloped world (they don’t give a damn about this, because most of the same people are advocating World Bank and IMF policies that routinely devastate the lives of the poor). No what really irks them is that the partial ban on DDT use reflects regulations that the free-marketeers hate. Any kinds of regulations are seen as an impediment to profit maximization, hence why the far right have used DDT as a beating stick that camouflages their real agenda: promoting free-market absolutism.

    As Tim said, DDT has not been banned over much of the world, but its use has been restricted because of the fact that mosquito populations were becoming genetically resistant owing to the heavy use of DDT in agricultural as well as in medical applications. Within two years of its introduction in the west in the 1940’s, house fly populations in many places were becoming resistant. Two years! This salient point is glossed over by the usual band of scientifically illiterate scribes who write about it – I am a scientist, a population ecologist, and the link between genetic variation and adative radiation is a foundation of the field in which I work. Right now I am working with different populations of wild cabbage plants and with an invasive weed – various populations of these plants possess differing secondary chemistry making them either susceptible or resistant to a range of herbivorous insects and pathogens. If selection pressure from these antagonists is strong enough, the resistant strains will enjoy higher survival rates and/or seed production and this will enable these strains to become more common, unless some other mitigating factor – e.g. competiton – tilts the balance the other way. One this is certain with respect to pesticide use: this is a massive selection pressure, and resitant genotypes will be selected for. Insects generally have very short generation times, enabling selection to work very rapidly on them. Overuse of DDT and other pesticides means resitant genotypes can become prevalent in a very short time, hence the house fly example.

    In addition to giving lectures on the tactics of the anti-environmental lobby, I frequently speak on issues dealing with western economic policy in driving poverty and environmental destruction. Policies supported by the corporate funded think tanks which usually write the kinds of drivel Tim L discusses here are in fact those that are killing tens of thousands in the developing world on a daily basis. Basically, these so-called neoilberal policies based around the ‘Washington Consensus’ are all about looting the valuable resources of these countries.

    The bottom line is this: the limited use of DDT can be one small factor contributing to combat malaria. But the real success would come from poverty eradication and social justice, which the western elites and their proxies and client regimes in the south are not at all interested in addressing. In 1980, African exports accounted for just 4% of the world total – by 2003 this has dropped to a miniscule 1.3%. World Bank and IMF structural adjustment policies have routinely devastated the lives of the poorest. Let’s see you start talking about these areas, before you come at me with your one-dimensional views. I suggest you read books by economists like Tom Athanaiou (‘Divided Planet’) and Patrick Bond (‘Looting Africa’) so that you can use words like sensible and rational in an economic framework.

  40. #41 Dano
    May 8, 2007

    If I may make a point using Jeff’s excellent rant:

    Any kinds of regulations are seen as an impediment to profit maximization, hence why the far right have used DDT as a beating stick that camouflages their real agenda: promoting free-market absolutism.

    Propaganda is best when it personalizes the message for the reader, so the reader nods their head in recognition. As any salesman knows, once you get the head nod, you’re golden.

    Making simplistic totems gets recognition from the reader. Hockey Stick, DDT, Ehrlich bet, etc. are all totemized in order to inject the message when the reader nods their head yes.

    Best,

    D

  41. #42 Ian Gould
    May 8, 2007

    Paul G.

    “My, aren’t you a touchy one Jeff. And to boot, you’re a mind reader!

    Left unanswered by you is the question of whether environmental groups did advocate a balanced approach to DDT, or did they work mostly for an outright ban worldwide.

    I appreciate the fact that groups like the WWF and Sierra both endorse the limited use of DDT now, but what were their policies and positions on DDT 10 or 15 years ago?”

    Tell you what, Paul, you’re the one making the claim, to wit: “Not once do I recall environmental groups advocating a balanced, sensible, logical or coherent approach to DDT and malaria control.”

    You were obviously wrong in this claim (Although actually I suppose if you have a sufficiently selective memory this statement could be technically true.)

    Rather than expect us to continue to do your research for you (a typical troll tactic – ask open-ended questions that force the other party to waste time on research then simply move on to the next fallacious argument)why don’t you provide examples of environmental groups calling for an immediate and universal ban on DDT with no phase-out period and no exemption for disease vector control?

  42. #43 Ian Gould
    May 8, 2007

    “what really irks them is that the partial ban on DDT use reflects regulations that the free-marketeers”

    Don’t forget the desire to brand their political opponents as “worse than Hitler” and genocidal mass murderers.

    They want their 30 million murdered African babies, damn it!

    They’d be happier if it were 50 or 100 million but give them at least 30 million.

  43. #44 Paul G.
    May 8, 2007

    ==== Jeff Harvey states: ====
    “Talk about touchy, Paul! You wear your heart on your sleeve and it bothers you when somebody recognizes it!…..

    ….The bottom line is this: the limited use of DDT can be one small factor contributing to combat malaria. But the real success would come from poverty eradication and social justice, which the western elites and their proxies and client regimes in the south are not at all interested in addressing.” =====

    I wear my heart on my sleeve? Better then the prejudices you wear on yours.

    Poverty eradication is occurring in many parts of the world Jeff, in case you haven’t noticed. And when it is eradicated, it is almost always through a free market/liberalized trade mechanism.

    The United Nations has recognized that the most dramatic, uplifting of huge numbers of people out of absolute poverty is occurring in China then has ever been witnessed before.

    It is through the hard work of the Chinese people and the freer markets that allow their products to be bought and sold around the world that have accomplished this.

    True poverty reduction is best achieved through private property rights, education, and markets that are free to a large extent.

    You can stick with your failed rhetoric, I will stand with the results.

    Regards,

  44. #45 Paul G.
    May 8, 2007

    === Ian Gould said: ====
    Tell you what, Paul, you’re the one making the claim, to wit: “Not once do I recall environmental groups advocating a balanced, sensible, logical or coherent approach to DDT and malaria control.”

    You were obviously wrong in this claim (Although actually I suppose if you have a sufficiently selective memory this statement could be technically true.)

    Rather than expect us to continue to do your research for you (a typical troll tactic – ask open-ended questions that force the other party to waste time on research then simply move on to the next fallacious argument)why don’t you provide examples of environmental groups calling for an immediate and universal ban on DDT with no phase-out period and no exemption for disease vector control? ========

    I did not make a “claim” Ian, I merely recounted how the debate, to my mind, seemed to go. DDT was so villified and demonized that there is an assumption that environmental groups in the past opposed all of it’s use anywhere.

    My question remains, what was the official policy of Greenpeace, WWF, Sierra and other environmental groups on the use of DDT, say about the year 1995?

    Many of you here appear much more knowledgeable about DDT then I, so I assumed this would be a legitimate blog to ask the question.

    Regards,

  45. #46 dhogaza
    May 8, 2007

    The United Nations has recognized that the most dramatic, uplifting of huge numbers of people out of absolute poverty is occurring in China then has ever been witnessed before.

    It is through the hard work of the Chinese people and the freer markets that allow their products to be bought and sold around the world that have accomplished this.

    True poverty reduction is best achieved through private property rights, education, and markets that are free to a large extent.

    You can stick with your failed rhetoric, I will stand with the results.

    Yes, we all benefit from freer markets that let the Chinese drag themselves out of poverty by selling tainted pet food that kills pets here in the United States.

    Government regulations are SUCH a profit killer.

  46. #47 Thom
    May 9, 2007

    Paul…Paul G.! Yes, you! The guy with the cute smile and the oversized head filled with lots o’ brains and big thoughts.

    Focus.

    Way back. I asked you this question: Mainstream science has found that limitted spraying of DDT, meaning on the inside walls of residences (that means houses), can be effective at controlling malaria while potentially limitting harm to wildlife. Please cite an environmental group that has opposed such a targetted program.

    Can you answer it now? You seem to have pretty strong typing skills, judging from the length of your posts. (psst….hint. i’m asking for you to cite something, other than what you have stored in your head. that means do that google thing.)

    (extra secret “psst”….i’m not doubting what you have stored in your head.)

  47. #48 Jeff Harvey
    May 9, 2007

    Paul said, “And when it [poverty] is eradicated, it is almost always through a free market/liberalized trade mechanism”.

    If you really and honestly believe this, then I apologise for suggesting that I think that you are in need of medical treatment. Please enlighten me as to how free markets and liberalized trade – which does not exist under the current trade rules and dictates of the triad – has lifted people from the yolk of poverty. One in seven people receive such little nutrition today that their minds are literally wasting away. Three billion people subsist on less than 2 dollars a day. Your words must be of some comfort to the mass of people living in deep poverty – there are more of them than there were people alive in 1930. Where free market absolutism and structural adjustment have been forced onto developing nations, the result has been a concentration in wealth amongst the ruling elites and the total and utter disintegration of society for the bulk of the populations. Africa is a case in point. How many African countries have you visited lately? I have recently been to three – Kenya, Tanzania and Cameroon, and it was patently obvious what the IMF and World Bank have done to the economies (and to the rank and file poor) of these nations.

    To suggest that trade is ‘free’ is in itself a farce. The triad slap all kinds of tariffs and trade barriers on goods coming from the south, actions that routinely ravage local economies. Debt relief comes at a hefty price: opening up a countries resources to private control and subsequent profit repatriation to western banks. Capital flows from poor underdevoped countries to countries in the rich overconsumptive triad have increased, not decreased since the 1970’s. The current trade rules siphon resources and capital from the resource rich but poverty-ridden south to maintain disproportiote consumption in the north.

    But what do you know about it? Its clear that your worldview is shaped from the corporate-state mainstream media that are anxious to promote the status quo.

  48. #49 Jeff Harvey
    May 9, 2007

    One last point for Paul:

    I have no idea what the perspectives of NGO’s like WWF and the Sierra Club are or were towards DDT and other bioaccumulative pesticides. But it is plainly absurd to believe that the pesticide was banned because of them, particularly in underdeveloped countries, where there was no environmental movement in the 1960’s (there is hardly one in many of these countries now, where the vast majority of the populations are eking out an existence). In the USA, the corporate lobby is a million times more powerful than the environmental lobby: just look at the vast amounts of corporate money used to lobby members of congress and the senate, which runs into billions of dollars a year (all NGOs – not just including environmental groups – contribute a very small fraction of this). And this excludes campaign contributions and other monies used by corporations to set up front groups, lobbying organizations and the like. Most of the mainstream media is owned by uge corporations or depends on the for their advertising revenue, so they are hardly unbiased. This explains why the current regime in the US is a plutocracy, like many of the others that preceded it (its not much different over here in Euerope, either).

    DDT is, as I said, bioaccumulative, and concentrates towards the terminal end of the food chain. There was ample empirical evidence even by the late 1960’s and early 1970’s – a time when the science of ecology was just beginning to become a popular field of research – that DDT advsersely affected reproduction in predatory and piscivorous birds.

    Tim L has explained how resistance appeared in mosquitoes in places like Sri Lanka in the mid 1960’s where DDT was being used heavily in both medical and agricultural applications. I believe that DDT used sparingly can constitute part of an integrated pest management program to eliminate or to at least reduce malaria incidence. But this is not what the absolute free marketeers want – as I said yesterday, they are using DDT as a ‘model’ to force through deregulation on developing nations in the pursuit of private profit. Many of these same groups and individuals are also heavily in favour of rapaciously predatory neoliberal policies which, as I said and for which there is ample proof, have had devastating effects on the lives of millions of people trapped in poverty. This suggests that they don’t really care about human life at all but are promoting an alternate, much more sinister agenda.

  49. #50 Paul G
    May 10, 2007

    ==== Jeff Harvey said: ====
    Please enlighten me as to how free markets and liberalized trade – which does not exist under the current trade rules and dictates of the triad – has lifted people from the yolk of poverty.======

    Jeff, you can’t be serious. Really, are your ideological blinders so severe that you can’t see the dramtic improvements in huge swaths of the world’s populations?

    ==== Jeff Harvery further said: ====
    Your words must be of some comfort to the mass of people living in deep poverty – there are more of them than there were people alive in 1930. =========

    You are being intentionally disingenuous. The percentage of people living in deep poverty now is far, far lower then it was in 1930.

    ==== Jeff Harvey further states: ====
    Africa is a case in point……and it was patently obvious what the IMF and World Bank have done to the economies (and to the rank and file poor) of these nations.=====

    Well, when you have deep rooted prejudices, of course that is what you would see Jeff.

    Africa is a difficult problem. Whether we, through aid or other assistance, can alleviate their poverty, I do not know. What do you suggest?

    Regards,

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