You know what’s coming when a post starts with:
“At times it seems that there are more sites honoring Rachel Carson that Josef Stalin at his peak.”
J. R. Dunn has written the usual Rachel-killed-millions post, but has added some fabrications that seem to be original with him:
In 1958 Carson received a letter from her close friend Olga Huckins, which told a strange and alarming story. A short time previously, Huckins’ bird sanctuary north of Cape Cod had been sprayed for insects, leading to a mass die-off of birds. The pesticide implicated was DDT. …
Along with a thirty-week run on The New York Times bestseller list, the book was discussed in the Senate, debated by Congressional committees, analyzed by the presidential Science Advisory Committee and widely covered on television. All of which was a deep pity, because Silent Spring was an extremely dishonest and flawed piece of work.
Carson’s book was rife with omissions, misrepresentations, and errors. She neglected to mention that the spraying of Huckin’s bird sanctuary was accompanied by fuel oil, which would have harmed the birds in and of itself.
But Carson only mentioned Huckins in the acknowledgments:
In a letter written in January 1958, Olga Owens Huckins told me of her own bitter experience of a small world made lifeless, and so brought my attention sharply back to a problem with which I had long been concerned.
I guess it’s true that Carson didn’t mention the fuel oil, but she didn’t mention the DDT either or base any arguments on it. In the body of the book she does mention that spraying includes solvents as well and that harm may be caused by the solvent rather than the pesticide, but:
From the practical rather than the medical standpoint this distinction is of little importance, however, because these petroleum solvents are in inseparable part of most common spraying practices.
The fact that DDT had eliminated malaria in the northern hemisphere went unnoted.
Possibly because DDT had not eliminated malaria in the northern hemisphere. To give just one counter-example, Mexico (see below).
But far worse was the tone of hysteria permeating the entire work. DDT was not simply a chemical compound, to be analyzed dispassionately like any other. No – it was representation of absolute evil, a demonic threat to all forms of life, one that had to be ousted from the environment at all costs.
This is directly contradicted by Carson’s actual words:
It is not my contention that chemical insecticides must never be used.
Dunn appears to have looked at my blog and learned nothing:
Of course, what I have explained, over and over again, is that the public health use of DDT was not banned, just the agricultural use. Which is exactly what the EPA release says:
Public health, quarantine, and a few minor crop uses were excepted, as well as export of the material.
Dunn continues with the usual Carson-killed-millions stuff, but I think this one he made up himself
The Clinton administration demanded that Mexico give up DDT as a condition for NAFTA being put into effect. This was done, and malaria rates shot sky-high.
After Mexico switched to pyrethroids, malaria rates went down. Oh, and:
The Director of Mexico’s malaria control program declared that it is 25 percent cheaper for Mexico to spray a house with other chemicals — synthetic pyrethroids — than with DDT.