What Channel 4 Got Wrong

Following in the footsteps of The Great Global Warming Swindle Channel 4 has produced a new documentary that also appears to favour being controversial over being accurate or fair: What the Green Movement Got Wrong.

Adam Werbach who was in the documentary protested that his views were misrepresented and tried to have his contribution removed. He writes:

In one scene they interspersed heart-wrenching photos of starving children in Zambia, their emaciated mouths crying out for help, with a story of how the environmental movement blocked the delivery of food aid to Zambia from the United States because the grain was genetically modified. To clear up the story, I might mention that the environmental movement doesn't run the country of Zambia. Greenpeace has since published a letter that it sent African governments at the time encouraging them to accept food aid despite fears that genetically modified seeds would 'pollute' local seedstock.

And this isn't he only thing they got wrong. A Channel 4 spokesperson claimed that the program had "been meticulously researched over a six-month period", but they repeated the myth that greens were responsible for a ban on DDT that killed millions.

It doesn't take six months of research to find that this is wrong but more like six seconds.

The documentary gets the myth from Stewart Brand's book, which states:

"Environmentalists were right to be inspired by marine biologist Rachel Carson's book on pesticides, Silent Spring, but wrong to place DDT in the category of Absolute Evil (which she did not). Most of her scientific assessments proved right, some didn't -- such as her view that DDT causes cancer. In an excess of zeal that Carson did not live to moderate, DDT was banned worldwide, and malaria took off in Africa. Quoted in a 2007 National Geographic article, Robert Gwadz of the National Institutes of Health said, "The ban on DDT may have killed 20 million children."

But there is evidence that DDT does cause cancer. DDT is not banned for malaria control this company sells the stuff:

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.

The National Geographic article that Brand quotes from has some inaccuracies, but even it contradicts Brand:

But it was also clear that the campaign was far too ambitious. In much of the deep tropics malaria persisted stubbornly. Financing for the effort eventually withered, and the eradication program was abandoned in 1969. In many nations, this coincided with a decrease in foreign aid, with political instability and burgeoning poverty, and with overburdened public health services.

In several places where malaria had been on the brink of extinction, including both Sri Lanka and India, the disease came roaring back. And in much of sub-Saharan Africa, malaria eradication never really got started. The WHO program largely bypassed the continent, and smaller scale efforts made little headway.

Contrary to Brands' claims, his own source shows that those evil environmentalists had nothing to with the abandonment of the eradication campaign. Nor is it possible for the abandonment of the eradication campaign to have caused malaria to take off in Africa since that campaign bypassed Africa. The National Geographic article continues:

In 1962 Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, documenting this abuse and painting so damning a picture that the chemical was eventually outlawed by most of the world for agricultural use. Exceptions were made for malaria control, but DDT became nearly impossible to procure. "The ban on DDT," says Gwadz of the National Institutes of Health, "may have killed 20 million children."

The Stockholm Convention, adopted in 2001, does ban the agricultural use of DDT with an exception for malaria control, but did not make it "nearly impossible to procure", as the list of countries using it shows. Gwadz's claim is clearly false. In fact the ban on the agricultural use of DDT has saved lives by slowing the evolution of resistance.

In the film, Brand made a challenge:

I would like to see an environmental movement that's comfortable noticing when it's wrong and announcing when it's wrong.

So George Monbiot challenged Brand to notice and announce that he's wrong about DDT. So far it hasn't happened. Unless it does, I think we should be skeptical about the rest of Brand's thesis.

More like this

Alicia Colon has written the usual rubbish about how Rachel Carson killed millions of people (see DDT ban myth bingo for corrections to the stuff she gets wrong). After claiming that DDT is banned she writes: Within two years of starting DDT programs, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Madagascar,…
Now it's the "Rachel Carson killed millions" nonsense over at Uncommon Descent and it's based upon this WSJ editorial from Dr. Zaramba, the health minister for Uganda. What's really embarrassing is how they link the entire article and it's clear they didn't even read it. BarryA writes: When I got…
Yes, the DDT ban myth is back, this time in "DDT Returns" by Apoorva Mandavilli that reads like a press release by DDT advocacy group Africa Fighting Malaria. It's in Nature Medicine of all places and is subscription only, but because I'll be quoting the bits that are wrong or misleading you'll see…
A NY Times article on Arata Kochi, new chief of the World Health Organization's global malaria program wrongly stated that DDT was banned and had to be corrected: An article in Science Times on Tuesday, profiling Dr. Arata Kochi, the new chief of the World Health Organization's campaign against…

...and Monbiot refers to you and John Quiggin in the process, I note!

Just to be on topic momentarily, I only caught the last two minutes, where Brand, rather uncomfortably I thought, said "We should probably compare sources ... yeah, let's do that." in response to being put on the spot by Krishnan Guru-Murthy following GM and the Greenpeace guy's (Parr?) "demolition" of Brand's thesis. It's good that GM seems to be carrying the discussion on in his column.

Now going off-topic slightly a moment (but you did open with TGGWS!), one of Channel 4's favourite sons has a new documentary aired next Thursday at 21:00 GMT, namely Britain's trillion pound horror:

Film maker Martin Durkin explains the full extent of the financial mess the UK is in and presents his argument of what needs to be done to make the economy boom again.

I wonder if there'll be as much misrepresentation in it as there was with TGGWS?

I don't think we're as bad as the USA yet, but not for want of trying. (This sort of stuff needs to go to Media Watch.)

I came across this rather horrifying clip, showing the sort of lies that the USA allows to be broadcast on television and radio:

[Rachel Maddow Explores Right Wing Lying Echo Chamber](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBxzMMCokpI)

I can tell you in my experience in trying to deal with environmental organisations is that they are arrogant, anti technology and highly suspicious of business. I had no idea of this until I tried to deal with them in project I was involved in. Since then I found the solutions in "big business" not in the environmental groups. Yes, before the accusations start flying, I fully support the theory of climate change. I don't own a car and I don't fly.

That is why it's so easy for people to believe this program. The represenetative were pricky, defensive and in the cases of Nuclear and GM pathetic in their scrambling for arguments against the technologies.

Surely there isn't such a shortage of documentary makers that the channel needs to use unreliable material to fill a schedule.

By Donald Oats (not verified) on 06 Nov 2010 #permalink

I can tell you in my experience in trying to deal with environmental organisations is that they are arrogant, anti technology and highly suspicious of business.

I can tell you, in my experience, pink elephants can drink flying pig under the table. Like, dude, if you're looking for a night out, go with the technicolour pachyderms. Leave the pigs at home.

I had no idea of this until I tried to deal with them in project I was involved in.

I had no idea of this until myself and this one pink elephant (think his name was Ringo or something) got really, really wasted one night. Like we smoked, like, three bowls of really top shelf Purple Haze. Really top shelf stuff. Ringo knew a guy who knew a guy. Then we played XBox alllllll night... wait, what were we talking about?

I found the solutions in "big business" not in the environmental groups.

And I found the solutions in global communism and a dictatorship of the proletariate, not in "big business". Let's split the difference and take a Keynesian approach, shall we? Or Fascist. You're choice. See, who says a commie can't compromise?

Yes, before the accusations start flying, I fully support the theory of climate change. I don't own a car and I don't fly.

I'm not sexist... but...

That is why it's so easy for people to believe this program. The represenetative were pricky, defensive and in the cases of Nuclear and GM pathetic in their scrambling for arguments against the technologies.

Just like the gubmint when they tried to cover up that Roswell was really an invasion by muslim aliens. Truman was prickly and defensive. Say did anyone see Truman and the alien in the same place at the same ti... Oh. My. God.... WE'RE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS HERE PEOPLE!

Overall, I took an optimistic note from the programme that a broad coalition was possible to put measures in place to mtitgate global warming. This would be bsed on human survival instincts and self-interest primarily, and ethical considerations secondarily.

I think this is the only combination that will succeed.

Re sou at #3 and the lies in US media, you'll note that most of the lies come from Rupert Murdoch's network (Fox News is owned by Murdoch's NewsCorp). So, is it really a US problem?

Michael Tobis was completely incredulous when I told him Stewart Brand had become a close-minded and deceptive salesman for market fundamentalism. I wonder if his promulgation of the "environmentalists killed millions by banning DDT" myth will help?

I still remember Brand's long screed from the 1970s about how anything that was socialist (and in his estimation, that was practically everything) was like a "cornfield." Controlled and sterile. Whereas unregulated absolutely laissez-faire capitalism was like a beautiful forest, and that was why environmentalists were idiots, because they didn't realize that capitalism is Nature and natural, and restricting a capitalist's right to do whatever he wanted with Nature was unnatural.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 06 Nov 2010 #permalink

Wo:
"I can tell you in my experience in trying to deal with environmental organisations is that they are arrogant, anti technology and highly suspicious of business."

That is complete junk and has hints of deliberate skepticism based on ideology.
I have been a involved with environmental groups for some time.
Maybe you were the problem?
But it also depends on what you mean by an environmental group, there are many sorts and even within FOE there are lots of different people and groups.

Businesses are criticised, it would be wrong not to criticise businesses, but environmental groups look for ways of negotiating change. Most environmental groups are very pro green business and actively promote businesses that are ethical and green.

You want errors? WTGMGW includes the largest misstatement so far of the number of people in Asia who rely on glaciers for their water: 2 billion according to Tim Flannery (who is erroneously described as a 'climate scientist'). The real number is more like 100 million.

By Vinny Burgoo (not verified) on 06 Nov 2010 #permalink

My own experience of environmental groups is that they are well-meaning, and often completely in disagreement with one another. This can be incredibly frustrating, particularly for pragmatists.

There's the anti-windmill people looking out for the bats, and the anti-nuclear people keeping the coal industry in business.... and those are just the two examples that bubbled to the surface first.

Brand should have had plenty of material without lying about things.

By Didactylos (not verified) on 06 Nov 2010 #permalink

Why do we enjoy condemning our kids to their graves with CO2 death warrants and CO2 death threats?
Why are there thousands of more scientists than protesters?
Why are CO2 levels rising when we are contributing less with the world economic downturn?
Why didnât plants show effects before the climate would show effects?
Why does the leftwing hope for this misery and the rightwing discount the âdangerâ?
Why are scientists not called what they are, fallible human beings and lab coat consultants?
Didnât scientists pollute the world in the first place with their chemicals?
Why donât the countless thousands of scientists march in the streets?
Doesnât Climate Change deny ancient climate and therefore evolution too?
Why donât people know that the UNâs warning predicts the effects of CO2 to be anything from ânothingâ to âunstoppable warmingâ (death)?

By Meme Mine (not verified) on 06 Nov 2010 #permalink

@8:

...most of the lies come from Rupert Murdoch's network (Fox News is owned by Murdoch's NewsCorp). So, is it really a US problem?

I don't see why not. Rupert is a US citizen.

Meme Mine,

Perhaps try trolling the open thread instead?

This is a thread about DDT and malaria.

Didactylos:
>There's the anti-windmill people looking out for the bats.

And there is a large group who want wind turbines.You will probably find a lot that want to protect bats are mysteriously also AGW skeptics.

Don't get confused between conservationists and environmentalists, they are often not the same.

But is this surprising?

No, because in the real world people have different views, this isn't unique to environmentalists.

Didn't His Lordship once protest wind turbines on conservation grounds? This was around the time he spoke in favour of mountaintop removal in the US IIRC.

I gave it a miss (shouting at the TV doesn't help my blood pressure), but Brand jumped the shark some years ago (Amory Lovins points out his friends lack of knowledge of energy economics here http://www.rmi.org/cms/Download.aspx?id=1550&file=2009-09_FourNuclearMy…). On the other hand, How Buildings Learn is a great book...

In many ways I'm more annoyed at Mark Lynas, whose increasingly seems to be the go to guy when you want to do a bit of hippy punching. For instance, he wrote an article for the Guardian about the Lewes windfarm being blocked last year (amoungst other things http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/24/activists.conservation) , while forgetting to mention that the project was on top of a peat bog (locked up carbon?) and wasn't viable without a yet to exist grid connection to the rest of the UK energy market.

I wrote a reply to the Guardian which almost got published, before they realised that I wasn't the well-respected oil geologist (my namesake), but instead a completely unknown archaeologist who can use Google. His arguments took a couple of hours to refute, but his 'we need to something to protect the plant from these greens' meme appeals to news editors looking to create a story.

There are others as well (Chris Goodall seems to reverse his arguments every five minutes), but Mark Lynas used to be one of the good guys. Of course Channel 4 should get most of the blame for this - after TGGWS they should have learnt their lesson, but didn't, and suffered nothing for it. Time for Ofcom again? (although for all the good it did last time, why bother....)

Hmmm, sounds a bit one sided itself this article.

1. While Greenpeace may or may not have written to Zambia telling them to accept GM corn, the very reason that they were reluctant to accept it was because of the misinformation that had been pumped out by Greenpeace for years about the technology and the subsequent fear of the technology in Europe. If GP made a last ditch attempt to repair the damage they had done and it wasn't successful they are still to blame.

2. DDT was banned for several years and millions of people died. This was done prior to the Stockholm Convention which targets a range of nasty old chemicals. DDT shouldn't have been on the list but was included and there is still considerable pressure on the countries that continue to use it to find an alternative. The reason why the exemption for malaria control was included in the Stockholm Convention was in direct response to the cries of genocide from the third world. The problem is that there are no safe alternatives at the moment that are as effective (the alternatives do cause cancer and despite your assertions the evidence on DDT and cancer is not conclusive).

I wish the environmental movement would come back to science - where it started - and stop this ridiculous posturing by self important hippie wannabees. We need better and so does the environment.

Find out THE FACTS about DDT. See: www.3billionandcounting.com
http://www.facebook.com/3billionandcounting
http://www.youtube.com/user/3billionandcounting

Dr. Rutledge, a medical doctor, explores the myths, lies, and coverups surrounding the banning of DDT. He presents 9000pages of EPA Hearing Testimony which finds DDT to be Safe, but was banned anyway. Find out THE TRUTH for yourself. It's time TO BRING DDT BACK! It's the Safest, Cheapest, and most Effective way TO ERADICATE BLOODSUCKERS!

And the liers have arrived. They just want to believe that environmentalists and so many government officials are evil.

"Dubious" and bev, it would be great if you actually read what Tim Lambert wrote.

By Chris From Europe (not verified) on 07 Nov 2010 #permalink

bev,
Where, exactly, has DDT ever eradicated mosquitoes? Or put another way, you do realize that there are still plenty of mosquitoes in places where malaria has been eradicated don't you?

Feeling down, moonbats? That's understandable, with all those mad green scams evaporating fast. Here's an idea, intoned to "I'm a Believer!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx-t9k7epIk&feature=player_embedded#!

I was a Green, really
heh heh-heh heh-heh
I hated SUV's
heh heh-heh heh-heh
I used to cringe when the cows would cut the cheeeeeeeese

Then I checked the facts
Now I'm a denier!

Comment by Dubious blocked. [unkill]â[show comment]

Comment by bev blocked. [unkill]â[show comment]

Comment by Graham blocked. [unkill]â[show comment]

Ah... blessed relief.

I was in Zambia at the time of the GM scandal and had many conversations with Lovemore Simwanda, the main opponent of the grain import.

To say this was a purely environmental issue misses the point. True, Dr. Simwanda was head of the Environmental Conservation Association (literally a two-bit operation - Dr. Simwanda & his assistant in a two-room prefab on the Department of Agriculture grounds). But the environment was the least of the governments worries at the time (we held an ecology workshop in Lusaka that was opened by the new Minister for Agriculture & the Environment who arrived late, said about 10 words, fell asleep during the first round of discussions and left before lunchtime).

More important to the relatively new president, the much-missed Levy Mwanawasa and his government was the idea of national sovreignty over the decision making process. Let's not forget GM crops were a very new technology and Zambia, along with other African governments, had zero legislation regarding their use. The US were perceived to be pushing GM food on African nations before governments could establish legislation and infrastructure to evaluate and monitor it. Dr, Simwanda is quoted by the BBC in 2004 saying "They want to dump the products of the technology on to Africa, and then say 'you can manage it by putting the laws in place'. But we think it should be the other way round. We need to know what the technology is, and then have the capacity to handle the technology, have the infrastructure in place, have the legal framework and policies in place, and then you have the right expertise to implement this."

As far as I was aware, Greenpeace had nothing at all to do with the process, the only Western influence I detected in Dr. Simwanda's office was some literature & posters sent to him by the British anti-GM movement which was in full swing at the time in opposition to the GM Field-scale Experiments being carried out in the UK. Having worked on said experiments I was able to demonstrate the flaws in the activist's propaganda, yet the decision to prevent the distribution of GM aid went ahead anyway, because environmental concerns were not key to the deliberations.

Chris S., very much appreciate someone who knows what went on, telling us what really happened.

P.S.: I advise against googling for D. Rutledge Taylor, the "Dr. Rutledge" bev refers to. Scary stuff. "physician-to-the-starts" in Hollywood should tell you enough.

Even Amir Attaran didn't think much of 3 billion and counting:

>Knowing a good story, and telling a good story, are two substantially different things. The cineasts behind 3 Billion and Counting certainly know a good story: their film explores the medically incorrect, damaging campaign against dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), when the scientific evidence is overwhelming that DDT has saved millions of lives from malaria and continues to do so. Their telling of that story, however, is anything but good, so what could have been an educational and entertaining documentary is instead woefully narcissistic, hectoring, and often inaccurate. ...

>For this, Taylor blames the foreign aid industrial complex, in particular contractors with secure jobs selling anti-malaria bednets to the very poor. But his fiercest, most over-the-top invective is laid at the feet of the environmental movement. While environmentalists from Rachel Carson onward often exaggerate DDT's risks and belittle its benefitsâas seen in this film's interview with a Ugandan environmentalist, who calls DDT use âprimitivityâ, and urges armed resistance and to âlet one dieâ insteadâTaylor is similarly guilty of losing factual moorings. He claims DDT is suitable for many other diseases, some of which are not even insect-borne, and equates its rejection with genocideâoverblown statements that are scientifically and legally untrue. Although cinematic exaggeration can make a point when done comically or ironically à la Michael Moore, here the assertions are merely aggressive and wrong.

By Tim Lambert (not verified) on 07 Nov 2010 #permalink

dubious:
>I wish the environmental movement would come back to science - where it started - and stop this ridiculous posturing by self important hippie wannabees. We need better and so does the environment.

Shorter dubious:

"We need better and so do we."

The point being that GM and anything we do, has nothing to do with the 'environment'. The 'environment' doesn't need GM or DDT, the 'environment' will find a balance without them.
What you are referring to is some humans desire these things to support their own population.

In future get your facts correct. I have no problem with people wanting to protect their lives, that is 'natural'. I do have a problem when people start putting 'Disneyesque' personalities unto Elephants, trees and fish, as if they were requesting DDT to be used.

> What you are referring to is some humans desire these things to support their own population.

You misspelt "profit" at the end there, Paul.

It's all about the greenbacks.

A good test to weed out the ones *proclaiming* their altruism in the UK would be to offer only cost-plus-10% on drugs for the NHS. After all, more goes on marketing than R&D and the NHS is a captive market, so no need for marketing. There's still the private health system (where you can get quicker service because you're paying directly for service), so plenty of opportunity to make the monopoly rents so desired.

At the least it would stop drug companies paying for court cases for people who demand expensive and unsuited drugs on the NHS. If they REALLY want to save lives, cost is all they *need*. A big buyer like the NHS would let them get economies of scale.

Likewise, with all this about orange rice and so forth, what's the crop most pushed? Roundup-ready staples with terminator genes.

A profitable product that doesn't really help the first world, never mind the third...

> I can tell you in my experience in trying to deal with environmental organisations is that they are arrogant, anti technology and highly suspicious of business.

Reasons for which can be seen in the Gulf Of Mexico.

Your complaint is rather like people being suspicious when a convicted serial killer and child molester is released into the public.

Yes, they are suspicious and, to apologists for the rapists of the planet and serial killers (Bhopal), their insistence that mere protestations of having turned a new leaf is not enough, their stance will seem arrogant: "How DARE they disbelieve someone with so much money who says they SINCERELY regret their actions! It's as if they think they are as successful as a CEO making 22Million a year!!!".

> You'll note that most of the lies come from Rupert Murdoch's network (Fox News is owned by Murdoch's NewsCorp). So, is it really a US problem?

Yes. If some person is able to "disappear" some unpleasant people legally, then even though they aren't native, it's the country that lets them do this with impunity that is at fault.

PS isn't Rupes naturalised now (to take advantage of tax avoidance)

> and the anti-nuclear people keeping the coal industry in business....

Yawn....

Do you want some cheese?

Avoiding nuclear isn't keeping coal in business. Dissing renewables is.

> You will probably find a lot that want to protect bats are mysteriously also AGW skeptics.

Nailed it.

> Didn't His Lordship once protest wind turbines on conservation grounds?

He stopped a fossil fuel power station because it would be visible from his land (and cited Scientific Interest [conservation law] to do so).

IIRC.

Extra jobs and the rights of the corporation took second place to "the view from his window".

It is sort of amusing to think that environmentalists are supposed to be anti-technology.
Yes, indeed, anti-wind turbine, anti-electric vehicles, anti-new energy science. You name it, environmentalists don't like it.

The reality of course is that the vast majority are technology selective, are extremely interested in science and engineering that solves problems they are interested in, but won't accept any old crud just because it has a few bells and whistles.

Unlike the luddite attitude of many skeptics who base their taste in science and technology on contradictory aesthetics, political ideology, money etc.

Re: Sou at #3

Thanks for that splendid link to Rachel Maddow - and I recommend any of you do a search in her site of 'Climate Change' - some splendid stuff there.

& Graham # 16, your link just goes to Survey Monkey for me, with no inkling of Scientific American's involvement. I am interested in this because a tedious AGW denier on another forum I post on has also raised this supposedly anti- AGW survey.

(Just Checked up in SA - the survey is attached to an article about Judith Curry (Smiles sarcastically). )

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=taking-the-temperatu…

Looks to me the 'integrity' of the survey is much worse than the Oregon petition.

By clippo (UK) (not verified) on 08 Nov 2010 #permalink

clippo @ #36
Yes, rattlebrained right-wing propaganda machines menace the media, as do lunatic left-wing lamebrains. Consider the "pseudoscientific fraud" of AGW. Notwithstanding empirical evidence to the contrary, the idiotic religion persists. Thank the MSM and corrupted science publications for that!

As but one example of how it works, look at question 5 in Scientific American's "survey". Why was "adapt to changes" - an eminently pragmatic strategy - mentioned in the last option but not the first? Scientific American, which has promoted AGW with knobs on, seemed intent on skewing the results. Epic fail. Despite this manifest lack of "integrity" as you call it for other reasons, readers roundly dumped on the scam.

@clippo

Aside from its overall uselessness, that survey does have some interesting stats to take away - most notably the correlation between the numbers that view Dr Curry as a peacemaker, and the most blatantly anti-AGW responses.

Dr Curry should be under no illusions as to the makeup of her audience - and one cannot be a peacemaker if one speaks exclusively to (or aligns oneself strongly with) a single faction.

Why no mention is ever made amongst the "the DDT ban killed millions"-crowd that there is ample scientific evidence that one of the major reasons for the resurge of malaria was the increasing resistance of anopheles to DDT after its rampant spraying is beyond me.

>"Why no mention is ever made amongst the "the DDT ban killed millions"-crowd that there is ample scientific evidence that one of the major reasons for the resurge of malaria was the increasing resistance of anopheles to DDT after its rampant spraying is beyond me."

Well, it's not beyond me. It contradicts the story or the point of view they want to push (that greenies/lefties/scientists are dangerous), thus no point in mentioning it.

Relevant recent interviews with and re Stewart Brand:
http://www.ecoshock.info/search/label/climate

On the malaria thing, has nobody inquired of Dr. Gwadz about the 2007 quote attributed to him in that National Geographic article? I've looked and can't find it anywhere _except_ in quotes from the NG article. Writer Finkel has a past history of fabricating material. http://www.google.com/search?q=national+geographic+fabricating+finkel

The attribution for the 'millions of deaths' claim seems to have been displaced -- from the Finkel/National Geographic Gwodz quote, to Patrick Moore who has a book coming out:
http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/11/06/correspondence-with-stewart-…
>From Stewart Brand to George Monbiot, 6th November 2010
>From: Patrick Moore
>... the short section on DDT from my upcoming book
>âConfessions of a Greenpeace Dropoutâ.

If I read the excerpt there right, Moore calculates "millions" thus:

"... When the use of DDT was either banned or discontinued ... malaria continued to take an average of more than a million lives per year .... During the time it was banned as many as 50 million people died from malaria.... While malaria infections plummeted by 90 percent in South Africa, they remained very high just across the border in Mozambique ...."

Nasty numbers from that assume no downside to spraying.
But spraying wasn't the best use of DDT even at the time.

If spraying had been ubiquitous, without a reservoir of unsprayed mosquitos, how much faster would resistance have developed? The 'millions' number seems to assume the 90 percent success rate would be apply with ubiquitous spraying.

Another--what's the DDT/DDE sediment level in agriculture and in rivers downstream of the sprayed areas, compared to areas that were not sprayed?

Another--big agribusiness is moving into Africa buying up land to grow food. http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1462&fuseaction=topics.e…
Is there any difference in future value in previously sprayed and unsprayed areas?

__________
I think one relevant question is -- what will DDT cost if produced and distributed in controlled quantities, for use on bed nets and for residual spray in sleeping areas, controlled to limit excess dispersing to the outdoors.

I suspect it would cost like a prescription drug--and likely not be profitable to manufacture.

Surely someone in the industry has done the numbers on this?

This is very good. If there had been a completely comprehensive DDT-spraying program in recent decades, the problems described here would have emerged faster and would now be considerably worse than they are.

Evolution in action.

Ferguson HM, Dornhaus A, Beeche A, Borgemeister C, Gottlieb M, et al. (2010) Ecology: A Prerequisite for Malaria Elimination and Eradication. PLoS Med 7(8): e1000303. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000303

Published: August 3, 2010

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed…

---excerpt---

... Leading vector control technologies such as insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) can suppress transmission by one or even two orders of magnitude [4],[6] and dramatically alleviate disease burden [7],[8].

Nevertheless, these measures alone are not sufficient to eliminate transmission in large tracts of tropical Africa where the entomological inoculation rate (EIR), the most direct measure of human exposure, can exceed a thousand infectious bites per person per year [9],[10].

Expressed in terms of the parasite's reproductive number, this means that if the local parasite population were entirely eliminated by mass drug administration, for example, a single infected person moving into the area could give rise to as many as ten thousand new infections and readily re-establish stable transmission [10].

Under such conditions, simulations predict that even 100% coverage of an entire population with ITNs exhibiting near-ideal properties will fail to push the EIR below the threshold required for local elimination [11].

Although massive benefits of increasing ITN and IRS coverage have been achieved in many parts of equatorial Africa, elimination has remained elusive except for regions on the edge of stable transmission in Kenya, Tanzania and The Gambia (e.g. [12]â[14]).

Evidence from the previous malaria eradication drive [4],[15] and contemporary initiatives [8],[16],[17] indicate that transmission remains robust in areas where it has been historically high. We argue here that a failure to appreciate the biological complexities that allow vector populations to resist or evade interventions has substantially impeded control efforts.

In particular, we identify seven ecologically imposed obstacles that have limited the effectiveness of vector control, and must be tackled in order to move from control to eradication ...."

----end excerpt---

Wow! It's like a bees next has been hit when anyone says that they have investigated for themselves ..and have found the facts surrounding DDT, show it to be safe for humans and the environment. You would think those who still are on the "ban" wagon .. would at least check into it. But I have found, all they do is continue to post outdated junk science and attack anyone who is sincere at getting the truth out. I went to http://3billionandcounting.com and was grateful that this doctor, with his own money, uncovered documents that we had never been privy to before. To actually see them, does not leave you with questioning the safety of DDT any longer, however, leaves you wondering why so many are still opposed to this?
I also found something interesting that you might want to check as well: Steve Milloy publishes http://JunkScience.com and is the author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.
I think the time has come for truth to be known. And the funny thing about Truth .. it sets you free! Try it .. you'll like it!

galight, the mere idea of going to the cesspool that is the website of industry lobbyist and chronic liar and fraud Steve Milloy is revolting to anyone interested in good science. Also, the fact that you trundle into this forum with your vague rubbish marks you like a bright flare stuck up your arse. He makes Anthony Watts seem reasonable. Run along little troll, be a good boy!

Gaslight....you really have no idea what your doing when you recommend anything by Steve Milloy on this site.

Please check him out on Sourcewatch. Save yourself!

40 JasonW,

I know that was a rhetorical question but I'll answer anyway:-

Because they are a combination of: dishonest, delusional, and incompetent.

By TrueSceptic (not verified) on 10 Nov 2010 #permalink

47 galight,

Thanks for showing us just how credulous and stupid some can be.

By TrueSceptic (not verified) on 10 Nov 2010 #permalink

It's like a bees next has been hit

Bees next??

BEES NEXT???!!!

By Ezzthetic (not verified) on 10 Nov 2010 #permalink

Monbiot is giving Brand the Plimer-treatment. He's not letting go and keeps pounding the same question. In between he keeps pointing his readers to Brand's unwillingness to seriously engage the question. This is a really good tactic. It shows people if a source is credible or not.

I don't know Stewart Brand so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. But if he doesn't come with an honest answer that is to the point soon he will go on my black list of untrustworthy sources.

Neven, look for PhilipD's comment at the Monbiot Guardian link: 10 November 2010 6:32PM. Seems to sum it up nicely.

> an honest answer that is to the point

SB said they need to compare their sources.

Monbiot or Brand must have a contact at the National Geographic to find out if NG checked Finkel's quotes for that article--either at the time or, um, recently. Or of course the guy Finkel quoted is right there on the Internet.

Fact check. Two words.

I emailed Gwadz and the quote does represent his position. However, Gwadz's justification is the claim that the US banned the production of DDT and hence countries couldn't buy it. This is, of course, not true in the slightest.

By Tim Lambert (not verified) on 10 Nov 2010 #permalink

> emailed

Thanks Tim.

Trying to imagine what could support what he says he believes: Could it be that US aid money was limited to purchasing only US products so couldn't be used to buy from suppliers in other countries? Must be market studies and records somewhere (sigh).

The Internet needs a good Reference Librarian.

"I emailed Gwadz and the quote does represent his position. However, Gwadz's justification is the claim that the US banned the production of DDT and hence countries couldn't buy it."

This is just laughable. The US is not the first (or second, or even fifth) place I would look to buy a commodity chemical even without considering the possibility of a ban. Gwadz is completely clueless on this topic.

Stewart Brand should be taken with a grain of salt in any case. He, the old Whole Earth and associated people can make for interesting reading, but they tend to worship in the cult of the generalized contrarian (motto: "Everything you know is wrong!"). Kevin Kelley likewise; he's promoted books like The Deniers and Julian Simon's idiocy.

Interesting to see the views on DDT - "But there is evidence that DDT does cause cancer." On clicking this link it took me to the Pine Rivers Statement, which concludes âAlthough we provide evidence to suggest that DDT and DDE may pose a risk to human health, we also highlight the lack of knowledge about human exposure and health effects in communities where DDT is currently being sprayed for malaria control.â [emboldened text added to draw attention to key words] May, might be, maybe, possibly, could be - these are all words that I have come across on reading so called âscientific studiesâ on DDT. Next time you read about DDT, do the same as me and really read with some degree of alertness and awareness. Ask yourself, is what is being presented fact based, peer reviewed, replicable science or is it emotionally based belief and opinions? There is a big difference between these two. Unfortunately, from what I have seen of what passes for science these days, opinions and beliefs are given greater credence than fact. By way of example, take another look at the Lancet reference mentioned above. Is this what passes for scientific review these days? If so, it reflects very poorly on what I had previously considered to be a first rate scientific journal.

By ShamScience (not verified) on 11 Nov 2010 #permalink

> highlight the lack of knowledge about human exposure and health effects in communities where DDT is currently being sprayed for malaria control.

But DDT is not banned for malaria control and cancer may be less of a problem for the fertile populations compared to malaria's problems to them.

Rather like the wildlife around Chernobyl, where the cancer and varied damaging results of the fallout are nowhere near as bad a problem for the animals as human habitation and predation.

Sham science indeed.

Since people have brought up Steven Milloy, may I point out how tragic it is that so few are aware of his status as a 9/11Truther? In the weeks after 9/11 he published several articles saying that the U.S. gov't had been complicit in causing those deaths at the towers because it stripped all the asbestos (good, pure, harmless stuff that it is) out of them, that the towers definitely would have kept standing forever if they'd had asbestos because there's no way the planes themselves could have caused enough damage to collapse them, and that one of the towers stood for longer than the other because they hadn't finished removing all the asbestos from the second one yet. Of course, he realized all the actual engineers and contractors would say he was wrong, so he incorporated that into his theory by calling it a government disinfo campaign as part of the corrupt govt investigation that was part of the conspiracy.

Anything that even hints at 9/11Truther / govt-did-it-ism is (justifiably) completely taboo even in the far-right circles of Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox, etc., so again it is a real shame that this particular episode has been largely forgotten.

Wow- tempest in a teapot! I'm sure everyone means well. The DDT soaked mosquito-nets are cheap and work well. Spraying DDT in every bayou, puddle and estuary to "prevent" mosquitoes will destroy bird life and who know what else. No one has really looked closely in a very long time. We are all victims of alarmism, junk science and mis-led visionaries. All these words flung around and no mention of the Bald Eagle's recovery from DDT usage in the US. This was a great thing we did here in our country, lets congratulate the brave scientists and environmentalists that made that happen.