Washington Times spreads DDT ban myth

Via Ian Hart I find Paul Driessen in the Washington Times offering alarmist claims that action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be economic suicide. We see how important the DDT ban myth is to these folks:

It's a classic bait-and-switch tactic, repeated endlessly by activists, scientists, journalists, bureaucrats, celebrities and politicians. They used similar tactics 35 years ago to excise DDT and other insecticides from disease control programs.

Tens of millions died from malaria -- and none of the perpetrators have ever apologized, admitted error or been held accountable for the unconscionable disease, brain damage and death they perpetuated.

Now they say we should trust them on climate change.

DDT was not excised from disease control in the 70s. In fact, while malaria was resurging in the 70s DDT use was increasing. And part of the reason why there were more malaria cases was the continuing use of DDT in agriculture, which helped breed DDT-resistant mosquitoes.

And the Washington Times thinks we should trust Paul Driessen on climate change.

The DDT ban myth is such a staple with right-wing pundits that two days later, there it was in the Washington Times. This time the Washington Times was promoting a book by John Berlau. The theme of the book being that greens are the evilest people ever. Berlau was interviewed by Robert Stacy McCain:

Q: You are very critical of Rachel Carson, author of "Silent Spring," who is viewed as a hero by the environmentalist movement. Why?
A: For both her results and her intentions. The results are clear. Two million dying every year in Africa of malaria, a disease proven to be preventable by killing and repelling the mosquitoes that carry it with DDT. DDT wiped out malaria in much of the world, including the southern U.S. Carson vilified DDT based on distortion of facts known even then. For instance, she implied DDT was developed as poison gas, when history shows it was developed to protect our troops in World War II from typhus and malaria.

Berlau is, of course, lying. (Did I mention that he worked for the Competitive Enterprise Institute?) Here's what Carson actually wrote about the development of DDT:

DDT (short for dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane) was first synthesized by a German Chemist in 1874, but its properties as an insecticide were not discovered until 1939. Almost immediately DDT was hailed as a means of stamping out insect-borne disease and winning the farmers' war against crop destroyers overnight. The discoverer, Paul Muller of Switzerland, won the Nobel Prize.

... one of its first uses was the wartime dusting of many thousands of soldiers, refugees, and prisoners, to combat lice.

And one of the reasons Carson was opposed to the overuse of DDT was that it would lead to resistance and render it useless against disease. I'll bet that Berlau never mentions resistance in his book.

The interview continues:

Q: Mr. Limbaugh famously dubbed environmentalists "tree-huggers" -- do you wonder what he might say if he were to read the chapter of your book where you explain how tree-hugging leads to problems like forest fires, Lyme disease and even increased air pollution?
A: I imagine he would say some things that were very profound, just as he has all these years about the tragic effects of the DDT ban. He deserves credit for bringing the facts to millions of Americans.

Except that Limbaugh's "facts" aren't so much facts as fiction.


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Paul Driessen has been around a while and his theme is to say that environmentalist are racist.

He peddles malicious lies. His idiotic strategy is to think of something that everybody thinks is bad, and then say your opponent is that.

By Joseph O'Sullivan (not verified) on 30 Jan 2007 #permalink

By the way, Roger Pielke Jr. has finally been caught in bed with the Republicans and he's kinda' losing it on his blog.

Wow...it's a little scary.

It's fascinating how there's apparently this single coherent "they" which determined chemical safety policy in the 1970's and which 30 years later is determining climate change policy.

I wonder whether "they" are the Jews, the masons or the Trilateral Commission?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 30 Jan 2007 #permalink

Thanks for the gnxp ref, Agnostic. Very interesting to watch the commentors' disgust at "greenies and lefties" overwhelm what respect for objectivity they began with.

Berlau is, of course, lying.

That's not fair Tim. You haven't shown that Berlau read Carson's book.

Berlau is either an idiot or a liar. He has continued to repeat the "environmentalists caused the flooding in New Orleans" meme despite no evidence and even counterevidence to his claim.

He started it in National Review, just days after Hurrican Katrina, capitalizing on the suffering of New Orleans' residents.

"Greens vs. Levees"

It was nicely marbled, juicy red meat for a right-wing audience. The argument got amplified on Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and all the wing nut news sites.

Just a month later, the Government Accountability Office reported to Congress:
"None of the changes made to the project, however, are believed to have had any role in the levee breaches recently experienced as the alternative design selected was expected to provide the same level of protection. In fact, Corps officials believe that flooding would have been worse if the original proposed design had been built."

Still, Berlau continues to peddle this nonsense whenever given a chance. It's how people like him make a living.

Instead of bleating, suggest that he/she just shut up, move to America, and get to work on solving the serious problems of our future. Good bloody grief.

Imagine the reaction if a Palestinian blogger suggested people stop wasting time on trivial issues like research on vaccines for AIDS and malaria.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 03 Feb 2007 #permalink

Actually, I would encourage everyone to follow that link.

Obadiah's rant is so poorly reasoned and so factually challenged that it is a minor classic of the form - even AEI or Steve Milloy would be embarassed.

Since English almost definitely isn't his first language I think we should give him a pass on the various areas of grammar et cetera. Let's just say that his placing his anti-GW spam on a totally unrelated thread (because surely nobody else would waste their time shilling his nonsense) is probably indicative of his general level of comprehension skills.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 03 Feb 2007 #permalink