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?”
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.