Glenn Reynolds approvingly quotes Rich Karlgaard’s ill-informed comments on Rachel Carson:

FORBES’ RICH KARLGAARD ASKS how many people died because of Rachel Carson?

Buried in paragraph 27, and paraphrasing the Congressman, The Washington Post concedes that “numerous” deaths might have been prevented by DDT.

Let’s stop here. Any curious reader would ask, Just how “numerous” is numerous? Wouldn’t you ask that question? The Post never asks that question. Why?

Because the answer devastates Rachel Carson and her followers. According to these CDC figures, malaria kills more than 800,000 children under age five every year.

Every year, 800,000 small children die from malaria, a disease once nearly eradicated. Ponder that.

And all The Washington Post can say is “numerous?”

That’s scandalous.

The answer is that many lives have been saved because of Rachel Carson and it’s scandalous the way Reynolds and Karlgard mislead their readers.

Because of Carson, the agricultural use of DDT was banned, but not the anti-malarial use of DDT and it has continued to be used to this day. You can buy it from Yorkool Chemical:

In the past several years, we supplied DDT 75% WDP to Madagascar, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Africa, Namibia, Solomon Island, Papua New Guinea, Algeria, Thailand, Myanmar for Malaria Control project, and won a good reputation from WHO and relevant countries’ government.

And banning the agricultural use of DDT saved lives by slowing the development of resistance. Furthermore this is exactly the case Carson made in Silent Spring, warning that overuse would destroy the effectiveness of insecticides:


No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored. The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse. The world has heard much of the triumphant war against disease through the control of insect vectors of infection, but it has heard little of the other side of the story – the defeats, the short-lived triumphs that now strongly support the alarming view that the insect enemy has been made actually stronger by our efforts. Even worse, we may have destroyed our very means of fighting. …

What is the measure of this setback? The list of resistant species now includes practically all of the insect groups of medical importance. … Malaria programmes are threatened by resistance among mosquitoes. …

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.

Karlgaard is also wrong to claim that malaria was almost eradicated. It was almost eradicated in some places like Sri Lanka, but then returned with a vengeance, not because DDT was banned (again, it wasn’t) but because mosquitoes developed resistance to DDT.

Update: Steven D tried to educate Reynolds on DDT and malaria, without much effect.

Comments

  1. #1 Thom
    May 21, 2007

    If there are conressional hearings on DDT, I’m sure that House Republicans will request Glenn Reynolds to come and testify. Just as they requested blogger Roger Pielke Jr. to show up for climate change hearings.

  2. #2 c4logic
    May 21, 2007

    Glenn Reynolds is stupid. Glenn Reynolds has an agenda. Glenn Reynold’s agenda is stupid. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing in the hands of a stupid man with a stupid agenda.

  3. #3 AnswerMan
    May 21, 2007

    Just curious, when was malaria “nearly eradicated”?

  4. #4 speedtats
    May 21, 2007

    Gleen Reynolds is not stupid. Glenn Reynolds is a ideological hack. If he were stupid, he might be unaware of things like truth and reality. The fact is he’s not unaware of either, but – like so many of his fellow disingenuous rightwingnut hacks – rather actively and vigorously denies both. And the fact that he will actively rail against truth and reality (rather than simply being unaware of it) coupled with his stupid agenda, is what makes him dangerous.

  5. #5 fudd
    May 21, 2007

    The really scary thing is that Reynolds is a professor at an accredited American college.

    Yikes….

  6. #6 bleat my little impotent, ineffective, invalid, unconvincing, weak idiot bleat
    May 21, 2007

    Read Reynolds. Read Carson. Surely even an idiot can clearly see who writes more cogently (much more cogently in this case).

  7. #7 bleat my little impotent, ineffective, invalid, unconvincing, weak idiot bleat
    May 21, 2007

    Read Reynolds. Read Carson. Surely even an idiot can clearly see who writes more cogently (much more cogently in this case).

  8. #8 bleat my little impotent, ineffective, invalid, unconvincing, weak idiot bleat
    May 21, 2007

    Read Reynolds. Read Carson. Surely even an idiot can clearly see who writes more cogently (much more cogently in this case).

  9. #9 bleat my little impotent, ineffective, invalid, unconvincing, weak idiot bleat
    May 21, 2007

    Read Reynolds. Read Carson. Surely even an idiot can clearly see who writes more cogently (much more cogently in this case).

  10. #10 nobodie
    May 21, 2007

    Scary is right.

    One thing, it would be more correct to say “evolved resistance to DDT” rather than “developed resistance to DDT.” This is evolution happening here. It’s not the same as when an individual gets a vaccination and “develops” resistance to a disease. Of course you might antagonize some people by using the word “evolved”.

  11. #11 guthrie
    May 21, 2007

    bleat, I think you need another comma between the last three words thus:
    weak idiot, bleat

  12. #12 Robert D Squared
    May 21, 2007

    Uhmmm ..yeah. Pretty unbelievable, but the guy IS actually a perfessor, isn’t he? Any chance, ideological hack that he is, he’d actually post an update if one came to him from a .edu address?
    Ahh ..what the hell am I thinking. Hack is hack…

  13. #13 Edwin Pister
    May 21, 2007

    I am reminded of a quote I now use under my signature file:

    “To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.”

  14. #14 Edwin Pister
    May 21, 2007

    I am reminded of a quote I now use under my signature file:

    “To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.”

  15. #15 Esbey
    May 21, 2007

    We ought to provide the whole truth here. Carson did not advocate for the complete ban on DDT, but many donors and donor nations eventually did push poor countries to completely avoid DDT, pushing mosquito nets and other relatively ineffective methods instead. The problem is that “Anti-DDT” became almost a religion at some point in the late 70s through the 90s; Carson didn’t want this but it did happen. And the fact is that millions did die because of this extreme attitude.

    Here:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6083944
    is an NPR story showing how recently the World Health Organization changed its mind to “actively support” the use of DDT, in small amounts, to stop malaria.

    So, Carson is being slandered here, but the broader environmental movement got this wrong for quite awhile and only fixed the mistake recently.

  16. #16 Disturbance
    May 21, 2007

    Typical Republicans. They don’t know what they’re taling about but they project their own ignorance on everyone else and assume that no one knows anything and its all just a postmodern political power tournament.

    What people like Reynolds hate is the fact that they are greedy hateful little lying fucks. The only way they can deal with this is to tell themselves everyone else is a greedy hateful little lying fuck too. So they imagine Rachel Carson is just as ignorant and dishonest as are the dirty hippies portrayed on South Park.

    What kills them is not everyone is a greedy hateful little lying fuck. Rachel Carson was a good human being. Glenn Reynolds is decidedly not.

  17. #17 Sortition
    May 21, 2007

    Regarding accredited professorship of said political hack: To paraphrase J. K. Galbraith, education is extremely useful as a means for the educated to increase their standard of living. As far as other uses are concerned, education is over-rated. Is there any data suggesting an association between educational attainment and either good character or wisdom?

  18. #18 sj
    May 21, 2007

    No, Esbey, the NPR article you cite seems to have tapped from the same stream of misinformation as the professor. Resistance to DDT is the primary problem with its use as an anti-malarial agent, as the NPR article seems to acknowledge way down.

  19. #19 Ian Gould
    May 22, 2007

    Esbey: “mosquito nets and other relatively ineffective methods instead.”

    Actually Esbey mosquito nets (which are typically treated with DDT or another insecticide) are MORE effective than indoor residual spraying under some circumstances.

    Spraying requires a functioning government apparatus able to organise and fund spraying teams and send them to every house on an annual or biennial basis. Netting costs less, lasts longer and nets can be distributed more easily in war zones and other areas government spraying teams can’t reach.

  20. #20 Kevin
    May 22, 2007

    Ian,

    In what circumstances is netting more effective? When spraying is inconsistently performed?

    Sj,

    Are you asserting the WHO policy change is misguided? Because not only did NPR publish that story but the WHO changed its policy position.

  21. #21 Thom
    May 22, 2007

    Ian Gould writes: Spraying requires a functioning government apparatus able to organise and fund spraying teams and send them to every house on an annual or biennial basis. Netting costs less, lasts longer and nets can be distributed more easily in war zones and other areas government spraying teams can’t reach.

    Kevin writes: Ian, In what circumstances is netting more effective?

    Kevin can’t read.

  22. #22 Jody Aberdein
    May 22, 2007

    Regarding malaria control: this is a phenomenally complex field, and is not done justice by mentioning one tool as being superior to the other. To start with one must distinguish eradication from control, the latter aiming to reduce morbidity and mortality but not to free us of the disease. The CDC tried eradication globally starting in 1955, the program being wound up as a failure in the late 60s having absorbed enormous funds, and has been re born as a control program under the name ‘roll back malaria’, which also isn’t doing too well I don’t think.

    We must understand how we failed despite USA money, a universally effective insecticide, and importantly a universally effective drug (chloroquine). We now have a virtually useless insecticide (DDT against anopheles in Africa), a still useful insecticide alternative (pyrethroids e.g. permethrin), and real problem on the drugs front which just may be solved with artemisinin combinations. In addition control requires massive infrastructural dedication and a huge managerial input. There are also other measures such as water engineering (e.g. Mussolini and the Pontine marshes), larvicidal agents, biological agents (e.g. larvae eating fishes). You need expert entomologists, few of whom are trained nowadays, although those surviving will give you a host of reasons why anopheles gambiae is a harder nut to crack then the European anophelines. Sorry to provide a somewhat garbled rant, but I get rankled when people wade in to an area that many good scientific careers have been dedicated to. For the record bed nets rock, and I’ll post the references later when I finish work. A good starting point if you can get it is ‘Essential Malariology’, David Warrell and Herbert Gilles

    Dr Jody Aberdein

  23. #23 Paul G
    May 22, 2007

    The use of DDT appears to have been so stigmatized by Western countries, that while the use of DDT was not completely banned, there was little encouragement (and even less funding) available to countries who could have benefitted from our assistance and with funding targetted DDT programs.

    Environmentalists now seem extremely sensitive and defensive regarding their past attitudes to the use of DDT, and while Rachel Carson had a reasoned approach to the use of pesticides, many environmentalists and their associated groups, did not during much of the ’70s, 80’s and 1990’s.

  24. #24 Hans Erren
    May 22, 2007

    Indeed, between 1992 and 2006 there was a blanket DDT ban in place in Tanzania.

    http://english.people.com.cn/200605/08/eng20060508_263856.html

  25. #25 MikeJ
    May 22, 2007

    The linked article from the People’s Daily doesn’t address why Tanzania banned DDT. It may have been misguided, or it may have been that DDT was becoming ineffective there. It’s impossible to say if it was a wise decision or not based on a few paragraphs from your comrades.

  26. #26 Thom
    May 22, 2007

    Paul G.: while Rachel Carson had a reasoned approach to the use of pesticides, many environmentalists and their associated groups, did not during much of the ’70s, 80’s and 1990’s.

    Um, didn’t we go over this? In fact, didn’t we go over this, and over this, and over this? Ah, yes, here it is, where you raised the same pontless issue just a week ago.

    (psst…..Paul G., you devious little troll. You tricked me into responding to you again!)

  27. #27 Abe G.
    May 22, 2007

    MikeJ,

    There is only one way to interpret that article, especially if you have fantasies of a siegheiling Rachel Cason goosestepping through Africa in shiny, shiny boots.

  28. #28 Valuethinker
    May 22, 2007

    Can someone speak up for the ecosystem here?

    Birds are still dying in the Arctic, from concentrations of DDT in their bodies, which weaken their egg shells.

    Seals and polar bears show concentrations of DDT which are beyond the safe levels allowed for human consumption of their meat.

    This on a substance *banned* in use in North America over 30 years ago.

    DDT is an environmental toxin, dumped into the environment, that is still around 30 years later, killing birds and endangering the human inhabitants of the Arctic.

    Is this *really* something that we want infecting around our ecosystem?

    What would the mosquito problem be in Africa if major insect-eating species of birds disappeared?

    Where malaria has been beaten, eg in the US Deep South during the New Deal, or in Italy, it was the product of major programmes of civic action and civil works. *not* simply pesticides.

    We have a duty of care to the planet on behalf of future generations.

  29. #29 mgr
    May 22, 2007

    A better focused article on Tanzania and the reintroduction of DDT:

    http://www.ippmedia.com/ipp/guardian/2007/01/18/82542.html

    One should also consider that not only is DDT’s persistence in the environment a concern, the primary aerobic breakdown products, DDE and DDD have their own eco toxicity issues as well.

    Mike

  30. #30 Davis
    May 22, 2007

    Wow. So Rachel Carson is worse than Hitler?

    The idea that developing resistance to DDT happens is not a consideration for people who don’t believe in evolution.

  31. #31 Paul G
    May 22, 2007

    Re: Post #23 by Thom

    Thom, unaddressed by environmental organizations is any culpability or acknowledgement of their role in the excessive restrictions and denial of funding imposed on DDT spending programs. I realize that this is a sensitive issue to address, but it can not be simply swept under the rug as you appear to wish.

  32. #32 Davis
    May 22, 2007

    Paul G, looking back at that thread it appears Thom was asking for specific citations supporting claims like this:

    …[environmental organizations'] role in the excessive restrictions and denial of funding imposed on DDT spending programs.

    I’d also like to see specifics; I’m not making any arguments one way or the other on this, but I’m not willing to accept it based only on bald assertion. Do you have evidence of environmental organizations acting as an obstacle to the use of DDT in malaria control?

  33. #33 QrazyQat
    May 22, 2007

    Ian Gould writes: Spraying requires a functioning government apparatus able to organise and fund spraying teams and send them to every house on an annual or biennial basis. Netting costs less, lasts longer and nets can be distributed more easily in war zones and other areas government spraying teams can’t reach.

    Kevin writes: Ian, In what circumstances is netting more effective?

    Kevin can’t read.

    Nonsense, he’s just performing an homage to Bob and Ray classic skit about the Komodo Dragon expert.

  34. #34 blf
    May 22, 2007

    This is going to seem very naive, but I’ve never quite grokked why some people attack the banning of DDT for uses other than the control of malaria. Is this some sort of anti-“green”/anti-environmentalism thing, or anti-regulation thing, or cretinism in disguise, or are those people just (wing?-)nuts. or exactly what is the rationale? (I realise that if they are wingnuts, then there may not be any rationale other than people who are not wingnuts support the ban.) I presume there is probably a number of different reasons/rationales, but does something have a pointer (or can quickly enumerate and evidence) the apparent rationales?

    Apologies if this has been discussed previously, but I’m afraid this whole anti the ban on non-malaria-control thing is new (to me)…

  35. #35 dhogaza
    May 22, 2007

    Is this some sort of anti-“green”/anti-environmentalism thing

    Yes.

    or anti-regulation thing

    Yes.

    or cretinism in disguise

    No, some at least are very smart, and strike at one of the icons of American environmentalism deliberately hoping to smear all environmentalists. And remember DDT was banned by a Republican, so this also strikes at the nasty, old, science-friendly part of the party so loathed by the ultra rightwingnuts who’ve taken over

    or are those people just (wing?-)nuts.

    Yes to both, but that’s my personal opinion regarding rightwingnuts in general :)

  36. #36 Ian Forrester
    May 22, 2007

    Tanzania did ban DDT back in the early 90’s. However, it wasn’t because of any pressure by environmentalists. The reason was that the Government feared that the export of cut flowers and other high value horticultural and agricultural products to Europe would be curtailed because of the large non-approved use of DDT in the country. A large quantity of DDT was available in Tanzania which was supposed to be used for malaria control but was being used on just about anything.

    The EU would have banned the imports if they showed DDT residues. The Government then put a blanket ban on all uses of DDT to protect this export market.

  37. #37 Valuethinker
    May 22, 2007

    blf

    As other posters have explained, such as dzogha, this is about politics.

    The viewpoint of various ‘libertarian’ and ‘conservative’ groups is that government interference in the economy is unwarranted. Private markets can and will create the best outcomes.

    Step forward Public Enemy #1 : Greenies. Who destroy human prosperity by their attacks on private property rights, utilising alarmism and public opinion and ‘junk science’. Greenies are leftists in a modern garb, Greenies are all confiscatory socialists at heart.

    Global Warming is merely the latest incarnation of chicken little’s ‘the sky is falling’ a series of grossly overtrumped warnings to mobilise the public against positive and beneficial science and human activities.

    It’s a mindset, and it is fully believed. The ‘green environmentalists are killing Third World babies, we could have beat malaria except for the DDT ban’ is an egregious rewriting of history in the cause of contemporary politics.

    I don’t know if you live in the USA, but if one does not one has no idea how powerful these people are. Polls show 85% of Republican Congressmen don’t believe in man-made global warming. Republicans are about 47% of the Congressmen, and 50% of the Senators in the US.

    For them, this is about rhetoric and political advantage, they have already decided the ‘truth’ of the matter, it’s simply a matter of making their case in the most effective way possible.

    They are backed up by a huge, ill informed, newsmedia that runs their policy briefs as ‘news’. The story about DDT has reached the pages of The Economist, probably the leading right wing journal in the world (audience of over 1 million). And of course the Wall Street Journal, which also denies global warming. The Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph here (not to mention the largest newspaper in the country, the Daily Mail– circulation 3 million) are also ripe fodder for these sorts of stories.

    DDT is a wonderful poster child for the ‘junk science’ movement (they call their science ‘sound science’). Rachel Carson was a government scientist. She is dead. That makes her a soft target to say the least.

    You are eyewitness here to a political argument and a well engineered and distributed political campaign. There is as much real science content as there is in the Israel-Palestine question.

  38. #38 Valuethinker
    May 22, 2007

    By which I mean (last para) that Israel-Palestine is a debate about political reality and outcomes, *not* about scientific facts. Possibly a bad example.. it’s late.

  39. #39 Dano
    May 22, 2007

    Expanding on VT’s comment, DDT is a powerful totem for the FUD industry.

    Totems are create as a simple way to elicit emotional reactions. In the DDT case, green weenies killing babies is a powerful reaction. In the Hockey Stick case, intractable and uncooperative researchers covered up inconvenient data; this simple fact shows the AGW hoax. In the embryonic stem cell case…

    Well, you get the picture.

  40. #40 Paul G
    May 22, 2007

    Re: Post # 29 by Davis:
    ==”I’d also like to see specifics; I’m not making any arguments one way or the other on this, but I’m not willing to accept it based only on bald assertion.’==

    An article published in The Lancet in the year 2000 chronicled the then current sitution in regards to DDT.
    The full article is available for free at http://www.thelancet.com if one registers, but here are some quotes.

    The Lancet, Volume 356, Number 9226, 22 July 2000
    DDT house spraying and re-emerging malaria
    DR Roberts PhD, S Manguin PhD and J Mouchet MSc

    “Since the early 1970s, DDT has been banned in industrialised countries and the interdiction was gradually extended to malarious countries. The bans occurred . . . because of environmental concerns.”

    “Global trends of decreasing numbers of sprayed houses started with changing strategy from the vectorcontrol approach to malaria control. . . . was progressively strengthened by WHO’s malaria control strategies of 1969, 1979, and 1992. These strategies were adopted even though published WHO documents and committee reports have consistently and accurately characterised DDT-sprayed houses as the most cost effective and safe approach to malaria control.”

    “Additionally, assistance from industrialised countries was often specifically contingent on not using DDT.”

    “Other mechanisms also have been used by environmental advocates to stop use of DDT for malaria control. A recent example is the agreement of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) that forced Mexico to stop producing and using DDT for malaria control.”

    “On a landscape scale, a sprayed house will only have a very small amount of DDT enclosed in the walls. Nevertheless, environmentalists are still seeking a global ban arguing that if DDT is produced for use in improving public health, it will also be used for agriculture and lead to global pollution of the environment.”

    “The replacement of DDT by organophosphate, carbamate, or pyrethroid insecticides is commonly proposed even though price, efficacy, duration of effectiveness, and side-effects (eg, unpleasant smell), are major barriers to their use in poor countries. High costs and downward trends in foreign assistance discourage many countries that cannot afford the switch to DDT alternatives.”

    I hope this post is not too long. Also, the article provides many references which in the interest of brevity, I did not include here.

  41. #41 Thom
    May 22, 2007

    Lambert, I think you’ve landed a big one.

    Google the authors (DR Roberts PhD, S Manguin PhD and J Mouchet MSc) in Paul G.’s Lancet article, and what’s the first hit?

    A reprint of the Lancet article that is being hosted at Malaria Foundation International, a group that has a long tortured history of running with front groups selling the Eco-Imperialism narrative, which goes “the West is hypocritically depriving developing countries of the right to use DDT…” and so on, and so on.

    And other such rubbish. For further references on the Eco-Imperialism Narrative, see also other posts by Paul G.

    (psst….Paul G…..Next time you try and make hay over your “Lancet” study, you might want to mention that it’s clearly marked as an opinion.)

    (psst….for other readers, go read the Lancet article and see how many times Paul G. misquotes, shaves quotes, and basically cherry picks to serve his own purposes.)

    Paul G. you dirty little troll. You got me again!

  42. #42 Herb West
    May 23, 2007

    Tim: “Because of Carson, the agricultural use of DDT was banned, but not the anti-malarial use of DDT and it has continued to be used to this day.”

    DDT isn’t used in Australia as it has been completely banned the last 20 years.

    http://www.environment.gov.au/settlements/publications/chemicals/scheduled-waste/ocpfactsheet4.html

  43. #43 Alex
    May 23, 2007

    Herb, DDT was banned in Australia in 1987 largely due to the fact that Malaria was eradicated here in 1981.

    A little bit of information is a dangerous thing.

  44. #44 Alex
    May 23, 2007
  45. #45 Paul G
    May 23, 2007

    Re: Post # 38 by Thom

    I really have no idea what you are going on about Thom. You sound like the victim of a poor quality post-secondary education.

    The article was posted in The Lancet. Large numbers of references are supplied, and the authors have expertise in this field. Try commenting upon, or refuting, the points raised in The Lancet article.

  46. #46 Dano
    May 23, 2007

    Oh, look! Googlers!

    Has The Google installed a ‘context’ or ‘wisdom’ button yet?

    Best,

    D

  47. #47 LogicallySpeaking
    May 23, 2007

    Isn’t that what the “I’m feeling lucky!” button is?

  48. #48 blf
    May 24, 2007

    Valuethinker and others, thanks for the synopsis of what seems to be driving the people who are against the ban on non-malaria-control uses of DDT.

    To answer one small question asked of me, I don’t live in the States, and haven’t for 20 years. However, I was educated there. I cannot recall anyone being anti-anti-DDT-ban (if I can put it that way) when I did live there, excepting the historical (even then) objections raised following the publication of Carson’s book. Those objections (along the lines of food crops would be eaten by hoards of bugs if it weren’t for DDT and there would be not be enough left for humans to eat) have self-evidently proven nonsensical, which–guessing–is why I don’t (didn’t?) grok what the current round of ranting is all about.

  49. #49 Davis
    May 24, 2007

    I finally found some time to read the article Paul posted. Even taking everything in that (opinion) piece at face value, it seems the authors don’t consider opposition from environmental groups to be the full explanation for lack of DDT spraying in households:

    The failure to include DDT house spraying results from antagonism between the horizontal medical structures and the vertical ones that are needed to restart house-spraying programmes. In other words, more is involved than some undefined opposition to use of DDT.

    The following sentence hints at Paul G’s suggestion:

    Additionally, some sponsors make the banning of DDT a condition of their support and also require that malaria control be done within a primary health-care system.

    But again, it’s not clear whether this is due to pressure from environmental groups — it could be, but no evidence is provided. Many of the references in that article are not readily available, but the only environmental organization I found specifically referenced as opposed to DDT use was the WWF (there’s also Physicians for Social Responsibility, but I’m not sure it’s correct to call them an environmental organization).

    The WWF does indeed want to eliminate DDT use, but (based on the reference in that piece) they favor an approach that phases it out and replaces it with other pesticides. It’s not clear if they play any role in preventing DDT’s use; their stance suggests they wouldn’t just flatly oppose it in all cases.

  50. #50 Matt McIrvin
    May 24, 2007

    I read the Washington Post article they’re talking about, and that paragraph annoyed me too, for almost the same reason–all Kaarlgard and Reynolds get wrong are the underlying facts that the article omitted, namely that the accusation is completely bogus.

    It was the worst kind of lazy, tokenistic false balance in an article that was otherwise a good tribute to Carson.

  51. #51 Kevin
    May 25, 2007

    Thom,

    It’s odd that you snipped the part where I put my question in context. Well, not that odd considering all you care for is rhetoric. I was simply expressing disbelief that Ian’s chief objection to the efficacy of malaria as used for a pesticide was when it is used *inconsistently*. This tends to point to it being a good pesticide, doesn’t it? Oh well, I guess that reading one sentence further was too onerous for you.

  52. #52 Ian Gould
    May 25, 2007

    Kevin,

    DDT is a good pesticide in the right circumstances.

    We’ve seen that insects develop resistance to it relatively quickly.

    This means we need to limit its use to the applications were it is mot effective at protecting human health – which means either spraying houses or treating bednets (or both) depending on the other circumstances I outlined.

    It also means that using DDT in the areas where resistance has already become widespread (like Sri Lanka) is a bad idea.

    For that matter, it may make sense to rotate DDT with other insecticides such as malathion BEFORE resistance develops.

  53. #53 Valuthinker
    May 25, 2007

    blf

    The political tone in the US is completely different than it was in the late 70s/early 80s.

    Then, concern for environmental issues was taken as a given. Now, it is seen as a block on progress and economic growth, and part of the great left-wing liberal conspiracy.

    You can find people who think that the ban on CFCs was a bad idea, that the ozone layer threat was much overstated/ the problem is not caused by human action (a line of argument which *should* sound familiar ;-).

    What is different now is the mainstream media gives such ideas credence. The emphasis is on ‘balance’ and ‘he said then she said but he replies’. Not on conclusion against scientific fact. Post modernism has taken over the media, you might say.

    Added to that is an extraordinarily effective and well-organised network of think tanks (to produce opinion pieces on conservative views), outlets (think radio Jock Rush Limbaugh, the Washington Times, the National Post in Canada, Fox News) to deliver ‘talking points’ on each issue.

    http://www.prwatch.org/books/experts.html

    all the books by Sheldon Rampton are meticulously documented and insightful (they have horrific, cartoonish covers). But they explain this structure and modus operandi very well.

  54. #54 z
    May 25, 2007

    “We ought to provide the whole truth here. Carson did not advocate for the complete ban on DDT, but many donors and donor nations eventually did push poor countries to completely avoid DDT, pushing mosquito nets and other relatively ineffective methods instead. ”

    Many months have gone by, and I still don’t understand how something can be completely banned when it’s still in use. Is it a complete ban, limited only to those who don’t use it? I have a complete ban on tampons, I guess.

    It does take something away from the grandeur of the accusation, however:
    “Rachel Carson is the greatest murderer of recent times, solely responsible for millions of malaria deaths”*

    (*this statement invalid anywhere it is false)

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