Why is Yale Environment 360 spreading the DDT ban myth?

Yale Environment 360 has damaged its credibility by publishing a piece by Fred Pearce claiming:

When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged.

But the public health use of DDT was not banned. Look at the graph below (from Nature Vol 294 26 November 1981 page 302) plotting DDT usage against malaria cases in India during the malaria resurgence in the 70s.

Malaria vs DDT, India

It is arguable whether the increased use of DDT caused a resurgence in malaria (by promoting DDT resistance in mosquitoes) or alternatively the resurgence caused an increase in DDT use in an attempt to get it under control, but it cannot be honestly argued that a blanket ban on DDT caused the resurgence.

Shame on you, Yale Environment 360.


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Welcome back from hols Tim!

Fred Pearce. The reason why I stopped subscribing to New Scientist, many years ago. Precisely because this is 'arguably' typical of the man...

Yes, but what do you think of his article?

(And he didn't say DDT was banned, he said enviros developed blanket opposition to its use, by implication, given the article's thrust, regardless of scientific evidence on efficacy and harm. Not dissimilar to the blanket opposition to GM, or nuclear, or hs other examples. So take on the article, don't invent a 'lie'.)

By Roddy Campbell (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

Sorry Roddy, but Pearce, as often is the case, writes from an empty basket.

His take on GMOs was utter drivel. Speaking as a scientist there is major concern over the takeover of the food chain by the transnational elite, and there are volumes of evidence to suggest the technology has serious risks, let alone the fact that it is used as a mantra for adaptation to other serious threats posed to the environment. In other words, another case of humans dealing not with the disease (the very scale of the human enterprise) but the symptoms.

The DDT story, as Tim says, is simply not true, but like many myths its been said so many times that it has become the accepted norm. And of course DDT, like other synthetic organic pollutants, accumulates up the food chain; we now know its effects on birds of prey, piscivorous birds, another organisms.

I could go on, but Pearce, like many pseudo-environmentalists (I use this term very seriously here) is quite clueless.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

Sorry to be pointing out the bleeding obvious again, but Pearce does say that DDT was "Banned", which I think is the point you are taking issue with. Why you feel the need to add your own wording and then violently object to it is bizarre!

The quote you highlight is the only reference to DDT!, Fred uses the term "Blanket Opposition" [from Environmentalists] which is undeniably true. See BBC article, from 1999, below for example,

Sci/Tech: Ban DDT says wildlife group

some excerpts.

"The chemical DDT is so dangerous that it should be banned everywhere, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). "

"DDT is such a potent chemical that as long as it is used anywhere in the world, nobody is safe", said Clifton Curtis.

"The report says the chemical can be sprayed in an African village and end up in the fat of polar bears in the Arctic."

Ah, thought for a moment that the Polar Bears had been left out of this one, but No.

The problem is you guys never seem to be able to evaluate anything properly -a lack of objectivity- distort the evidence (in this case the FP article) so you can claim it is flawed and that somebody has done something wrong. Desparate isn't the word. Oh well, Enjoy your delusions Deltoids!

Def: Delusion. A delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.

Just in case you think it means something else.

Sorry typo in the first line, "does" should read "does not" obviously.

GSW - you make the same point I do, only let yourself down by saying 'does' instead of 'doesn't' in first sentence? :) It's clear he doesn't claim DDT was banned, only that there was 'blanket opposition' from enviros. I can't understand why Tim picked up from the article something different.

Jeff - you let yourself down with 'Speaking as a scientist there is major concern over the takeover of the food chain by the transnational elite' - which I think supports the thrust of Pearce's article! Good to know that 'transnational elites' are the business of science.

Your passage 'let alone that ......' demonstrates that your opposition to GM is in good part ideological, as successful adapatation might justify 'the scale of the human enterprise', or, as you put it, 'the disease'.

On the basis of your short comment I'd say you are exactly the sort of person Pearce is writing about?

By Roddy Campbell (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

" let yourself down by saying ‘does’ instead of ‘doesn’t’"

Indeed. Mea culpa.

"he said enviros developed blanket opposition to its use, by implication"

However, he is not correct. He is implying this, but it says far far more about his attitude to the environmental movement than it does about the environmental movement.

"Not dissimilar to the blanket opposition to GM"

Hey, deniers oppose GM too.

"or nuclear"

And the USA opposes nuclear too.

Roddy, what I am saying is that the motives of the agri-biotech companies is not to provide sustainable alternatives to intensively manufactured agrocultural crops, but to maximize profit. Corporations are legally obligated to maximize returns for their shareholders, period. Whether their activities are ecologically and environmentally sound is of no consequence; they are drivcen by a single agend: the 'bottom-line'. David Cromwell and Joel Bakan have discussed this at length in their recent books, 'Why are We the Good Guys'? and 'The Corporation'. I suggest that you read them.

What Pearce has written is puerile and simplistic on several accounts (no news there, given his track record). First, he assumes that the developed world is tirelessly trying to reduce poverty in the developing world, and that the technologioes we produce offer much potential to those in the south. The first myth is so indoctrinated into our imperial western mindset that it is taken as a 'given', depsite ample evidence to the contrary. If the corporate/state media spent more time challenging this myth than amplifying it (acting as stenographers instead of critics), they's realize that these technologies constitute intellectual property to be sold for profit and hoarded by the north (point one) and that poverty elimination, social justice and democracy are nowhere to be seen on the radar screens of the United States, Britain and their proxies (point two). We live in democratic facades in which the imperial midset has been well and truly indoctrinated, characterized by abundant myths of our 'noble intentions'. The late Harold Pinter rightfully described this as a quite witty form of propaganda. While we bathe ourselves in the glow of our alleged humanitarianism and altruism, millions of people are consigned to lives of grinding poverty and malnutrition in the south, a form of genocide in slow-motion and a direct result of western policies. Read any number of state-corporate planning documents in which the agendas of western governments are laid bare: none speak of creating a better world for those in the poor lands of the world, but instead the agendas are primarily aimed at expanding the interests of a suite of businesses and corporations. This is done at the expense of democracy, social justice and freedom because these just do not matter to those in power. Patrick Bond wrote a great article a couple of weeks ago on Counterpunch: 'Obama Whacks Africa'. Again, I suggest that yoiu read it before any more discussion of Pearce's quite abhorrent piece.

The final point I wish to make is that people like Pearce think technology is the mantra to save us (well, at least we in the rich world, because,as I said, those in the south often suffer the 'resource curse' and their lands are simply there to be plundered and looted by western corporations). Of course this is pure folly: new technologies in many instances are more environmentally damaging than those they replace and in the end they trick us into believing that there are no limits to material growth. In other words, do not draw back on the rapacious practices that are pushing our global ecological life-support systems towards the brink, because as we devour more and more of the natural economy human ingenuity will intervene and develop technologies to forver allow us to increase the human carrying capacity, irrespective as to the state of nature. This is pure Julian Simon-Bjorn Lomborg neoclassical economic bilge, and by now we should realize that there are limits to what technology can do as natural systems continue to shrink under the human onslaught. There are no techoloigical substitutes for most critical ecosystem services, and that should certainly be enough to alert us to the myth of technological salvation.

Lastly, to reiterate what i said above, they key to solving most of the planet's environmental ills is political, not scientific. The equity dilemma is the major problem: the fact that, whether we like toi admit it or not, the wealth of the north is bulit on the poverty of the south. Governments, banmks and corporations work closely together to ensure that capital flows remian largely uni-direcitonal: from the underdeveloped south to the rich developed norht. Read Kenna, Or Nitze. Or Kissionger. Or any number of declassified planning documents and the picture should become abundantly clear. Our western imperial culture pays lip service to poverty, because addressing this vital area would require a siesmic shift in ongoing polcies. Why else are resource-rich countries like the Congo mired in poverty? Thirty-eight corporations control the raw materials in that country: all are based in the G-8. The real threat to western eliutes comes in the foem of indigeouns nationalism. That countries will embrace governments that attempt to use the profits from their own resources for internal development to benefit their own people. This is what the US-UKisNATO axis has been suppressing for years. Don't belive it? The go to any public library and read the decassified files, written by western state planners. Its all there in black and white. The primary aim of our governments is and has always been to support the interests of our own businesses, and to try and influence decision making processes in these countries to that end. Nowhere is democracy promotion, freedom or poverty elimination in sight. Mark Curtis detalied this in his two books, 'Unpeople' and 'Web of Deceit'. Economist Patrick Bond wrote about if in his book, "Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation", and economist Tom Athanasiou wrote about it in his book, 'Divided Planet"The Ecology of Rich and Poor'.

Where are these salient little facst in Pearce's discourse? Instead, we get a kindergarten level essay, devoid of any political reality on the ground. And to think this crap is considered 'journalism'. No wonder the profession is rotting as the corporate filter continues to select for certain ideas at the expense of others. There are more people now working in public realtions industries in the United States now than in journalism. Whether is it Burson-Marstellar, Hill-Knowlton, Porter-Novelli, Edelam, Sandwick and many others, its clear that we live in the age of 'perception management'. Journalists are a vital cog inb the wheel of corporate PR: but they are joined by an army of information warriors spewing out the kind of drivel that would make any corporation proud.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

FP does say blanket opposition instead of ban. However, it doesn't stop there. He adds "it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged." This clearly suggests that some kind of ban at the smaller level resulted from the supposed blanket opposition and that millions died as a result .... As Tim has pointed out countless times, including in this post, this is just factually incorrect.

By Andersand (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

Jeff, gosh, the Congo is poor because of Kissinger, I don't know.

Andersand - Fred's point is (and it's a TINY part of his article, DDT) that the debate can't be had. That attitudes get fixed, eg nuclear, so can't be debated sensibly, that wrong causes get supported which cause harm, eg biofuels, then opposed, which may cause harm, eg gen2 biofuels, that the moral superiority of environmentalists (see his last para) causes damage.


Does Lambert REALLY think 'Yale Environment 360 has damaged its credibility' by publishing this Pearce piece? If he does, then his head is so far up his fundament that Pearce's last paragraph is virtually proven.


By Roddy Campbell (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

"That attitudes get fixed, eg nuclear, so can’t be debated sensibly,"

Yup, fluffers for Nuke or GMOs have their attitudes fixed. NOTHING said by someone against either can be sourced from anything other than dogmatic refusal.

Look at the current refusal to look at the growing evidence of the pesticides on bees.

Deniers also deny the effects of Agri-business chemicals.

They INSIST that all the increase in agricultural output is due to the "plant food" of CO2.

I.e. nothing left for those billion-dollar-profit companies to have procured by their efforts.

Roddy Campbell,

DDT was not banned for such use, therefore 'millions' cannot 'arguably' have died. Can they?

This is called 'logic'.

I suggest you stick to removing your own head from your own orifice, Sunshine.


Your remark is quite witless.

Kissinger's famous comment was this (as part of Memo 200, 1975, also involving Cyrus Vance, Alexander Haig etc).:

"Depopulation should be the highest priority of foreign policy towards the third world, because the US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries"

If this does not spell out the primary aim western agendas with respect to the developing world, nothing does. Your glib remark was essentially a straw man. Grow up.


By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

or, Roddy C, to put it another way, Fred's point (that is, his argument) is based on a complete fabulation (in other words, a lie). You're right (so thanks)—the fact is that he is talking 'CRAP ABOUT DDT IN AN ATTEMPT TO SMEAR ENVIRONMENTALISTS AND GET ATTENTION'. Although those are your thoughts, not mine. Love it when the trolls feed you instead of you having to feed them.

By Andersand (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

Here's the crux of why Pearce's article deserves to go straight to the bin:

1. His attempt at a heart-wringing narrative assumes that environmental NGOs and the movement in general have a significant impact on public policy. That's a joke. The major players in determining policy related decisions are not the ordinary people. Democracy has long been co-opted by corporate power and by the banks. They have infiintely deeper pockets when it comes to detrermining the course of economic policies; just look at how much is spent on lobbying and corporate PR, and one should see realize that policy is determined by the powerful few.Heck, the US government is a revolving door between industry and public office. Regulations have been so watered down oiver the past 30 years that many are virtually non-existant.

2. Pearce assumes that environmentalists oppose technology.A classic straw-man. Many of the technologies - GM crops for isntance - have never been scrutinized intensively for their effects of the environment. There is ample evidence that there are health risks, but these are suppressed heavioly by the corporate juggernauts who have invested billions in the technology. In 'Toxic Sludge is Good for You' Sheldong Rampton and John Stauber illustrate some of the more nefarious tactics used by agro-biotech/pesticide companies to intimidate local grassroots opposition, as well asinvesting heavily in PR campaigns under the specter of global hunger. Moreover, many of the technologies deal only with symptoms and not the disease: over population and unsustainable overconsupmtion of natural capital. Some technologies - like current fishing practices and mineral extraction regimes - are more envrionmentally destrcutive than older, traditional ones. They allow us to plunder nature more effectively, and not for natural systems to be able to reapir the damage.

3. Pearce assumes that the environmental movement has a lot to apologize for even though, as I said, its influence on public policy has been virtually invisible. At the same time, I have yet to see an anti-environmental organization (or an industry with an appalling environmnetal record) come out and give a heart-wrenching apology for the destruction they have wrought on the planet and society. Given their influence on social and political decision-making processes is a billion plus times greater than any environmental group, Pearce would be being more realistic if he were to target those whose actions really matter when it comes to the future welfare of humanity and environmental quality. As it is, his piece is a complete pile of nothing.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink


In answer to your original question Roddy, Yes, Jeff is exactly the sort person Fred was complaining about. Although I think you've probably worked this out for yourself from the comments posted.

That is to say, informed and professionally involved in the field, as opposed to a second-rate journalist with a track record of touting distortions and therefore much beloved by the anti-science crew as personified by Griselda Smileyface Wanker above.

Griselda Smileyface Wanker, that's good, I don't remember commenting on this blog before, although I may have done, I came here from Mann's twitter feed I think; I must say it is an experience. The thoughtful politeness, readiness to discuss, open-mindedness ..... I am amazed. Jeff can't be exactly the sort of person Fred meant, can he? He's too unique. If he is, as chek states, 'informed and professionally involved in the field' then I am even clearer than before that policy should be taken away from those professionally involved..

But I may get my coat now.


By Roddy Campbell (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

Ah, I see you choose to focus on the treatment of our visiting passive-aggressive trolls-with-a-history, rather than the main issue which is of course the second-rate journalist with a track record of touting distortions.
Still, as you were.

chek, if you'd put a smileyface after Griselda Wankey Smileyface :-) then this would have been allowed past the tone trolls, because EVERYONE knows that an unsult followed by a smileyface is unimpeachable.

"At the time of independence in 1947, of a population of 330 million, about 75 million people were estimated to be infected with malaria every year, and the direct mortality due to the disease was estimated at 0.8 million per annum.[2,3] To combat this menace, the Govt. of India launched the National Malaria Control Programme in April 1953. The programme proved highly successful and the number of malaria cases significantly declined to just 100,000 in 1964. Encouraged by this, the programme was changed to a more ambitious National Malaria Eradication Programme in 1958. By 1961 the incidence dropped to a mere 50,00 cases a year. But since then the programme suffered repeated set-backs due to technical, operational and administrative reasons and the cases started rising again.[3] Early set backs in malaria eradication coincided with DDT shortages. Later in the 1960s and 1970s malaria resurgence was the result of technical, financial and operational problems. In the late 1960s malaria cases in urban areas started to multiply, and upsurge of malaria was widespread. As a result in 1976, 6.45 million cases were recorded by the National Malaria Eradication Programme (NMEP), highest since resurgence."

Facts, much?


By Vincent Wong (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

@ Roddy Campbell

Jeff – you let yourself down with ‘Speaking as a scientist there is major concern over the takeover of the food chain by the transnational elite’ – which I think supports the thrust of Pearce’s article! Good to know that ‘transnational elites’ are the business of science.

Now you have put words in Jeff's 'mouth' and twisted them to create a straw man.

What you do not seem to have grasped is that the type of science that Jeff is involved in informs us of the trajectories of ecologies under the pressures of human development and climate change. Just as others inform us on how climate is changing and why?

The science that is funded to promote GM crops is used to restrict the choices of farmers in developing countries under the mask of being better for deteriorating geo-biological conditions. Before you start tarring all scientists with the same brush as Monsanto and their allies Cargill then I suggest that you actually research this topic.

For starters it has been clearly demonstrated that neo- nicotinoid pesticides are a hazard to bees including bumble bees.

Typically government has downplayed studies under the familiar mantra of 'more research needed'. Maybe DEFRA should look at this study - 'Combined pesticide exposure severely affects individual- and colony-level traits in bees' reported on here:

Pesticides put bumblebee colonies at risk of failure, study finds.

You see, agriculture is BIG business and with powerful lobbyists. And yes I have been following this story for a few years now.

Oh! Griselda Wankey Smileyface was not aimed at you Roddy. You seem poor at putting things in context.

Of course you have probably finished your drive-by by now.


Worldwide malaria deaths may be almost twice as high as previously estimated, a study reports.

The research, published in the British medical journal the Lancet, suggests 1.24 million people died from the mosquito-borne disease in 2010.

This compares to a World Health Organization (WHO) estimate for 2010 of 655,000 deaths.

The DDT ban, born of Rachel Carson’s hysteria, has cost the lives of tens of millions of people - mostly children. DDT saved millions of lives during World War II. And despite decades of testing DDT has never been shown to have any ill effects on humans. If our leaders could have summoned the political will to use DDT in the one New York county that was infected with West Nile Virus in 1999 we might have been able to stop the spread of the deadly virus to the rest of North America. Now, this killer disease is with us forever - annually killing millions of mammals and birds, and dozens of people. More death and destruction each year than DDT has ever caused (even in the minds of eco-zealots).

Admittedly, some resistance to DDT took place in selected mosquito strains. However, this was the result of widespread agricultural use - not as a result of vector control. Resistance testing can be done in problem areas and DDT or another pesticide may be used if DDT resistance is found. Pesticides can be use in an alternating fashion to prevent resistance.

Recently, Dr. Samuel Koffi Moise, head of Malaria Control in West Africa's Ivory Coast told international news agencies that, nearly 200 children die every day in his country of malaria. He further remarked, that more than nets, "...we need pesticides like DDT."

Furthermore, in his recent book, "An Excellent Powder", Donald Roberts, professor of tropical medicine at the U.S. military's Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, and Richard Tren, head of lobby group Africa Fighting Malaria, argue that DDT is the only effective weapon against the deadly mosquito-borne parasite.

Professor Roberts states, "There are an almost endless list of claims that DDT causes one kind of harm or another but ... with each claim, the evidence that the DDT is the cause is simply not there."

It should be noted here that the inventor of DDT, Paul H. Muller , won the 1948 Noble Prize in Medicine. Why? Because DDT has saved more lives than any other chemical invention in history.

During World War II thousands of U.S. soldiers dosed themselves regularly with the "excellent powder" to prevent vector born disease and entire cities in Asia and Europe were spayed to prevent epidemics - millions of lives were saved by this practice. No human harm has ever been noted.

Wind turbines - the darlings of P.C.- B.S. Science - have killed more birds, and continue to do so, (including raptors) then DDT ever has.

Finally, anyone may go to, "The Lies of Rachel Carson", "DDT: A case Study In Scientific Fraud, or "junkscieince.com., for information on the beginnings
of the DDT/Environmentalist hysteria that has now grown into the quasi State Religion of Western Civilization.... "Environmentalism".

By R.L. Schaefer (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

May not be the only thing Roddy wants to put in Jeff's mouth.

Roddy is a rather lonely man...

Its nice to see the know-nothing brigade here with a new member (Roddy) joining their ranks. Roddy, meet GSW, a similarly non-endowed fully affiliated D-K member. Hardly surprising that you two should get along famously.

To reiterate, environmentalists have absolutely nothing to apologize for. Their influence on public policy is zilch. This heart-wrencing soul searching diatribe coming from Pearce takes the cake. Time for him to retire IMHO. But this is typical of many who claim to be environmentalists but then strictly adhere to the establishment line. The same thing is manifest in journalism. So-called 'liberal' commentators like David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen cheerlead western wars and belittle critics of western foreign policy.

When will we see the corporate CEOs of Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Western Fuels, Monsanto or DuPont writing op-eds in the corporate media in which they are offering deep apologies for the environmental damage and human suffering their corporations have wrought over much of the world? When will the corporate funded think tanks, PR firms and astroturf groups issue heartfelt apologies for supporting neoliberal free market absolutist policies that are driving more and more people into deep poverty and destroying nature in their wake? Don't hold your breath waiting for any of these things to happen. Why doesn't Pearce get off of his backside and ask some really pressing questions to those who control the real power?

Finally, as i said before, Pearce should have acknowledged that (1) many new technologies are more damaging than the ones they replaced, and (2) that environmental concern over these unproven technologies lies at the heart of a truly democratic system. We are supposed to have safeguards, but many of these have been stripped away over the past 30 years as full-scale deregulation occurred under the banner of supposedly 'free-markets' that are not free at all. Western markets are highly protected and subsidized.

As an aside, Roddy sounds very much like David Duff: his closing 'toodle-pip' certainly sounds like Duff. As for GSW, note that he cannot counter a single point I have made here or on other threads. It must be immensely frustrating for him, making nonsensical remarks and having them rebuffed time and time again. He's given up trying to make rational arguments; hence why his last few comments have been nothing more than smears. Par for the course.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

I am still waiting for an apology from GE over its dumping of PCBs in the Hudson River....


I'll be waiting until hell freezes over....

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

It seems to me Jeff, that Griselda'n'Roddy'Duffer'n'all are prone to confuse science as reported by journalists and arts grad media 'commenters' with actual science.

In the same fashion as a Kalahari bushmen might confuse his scratched-in-the-sand representations of an aircraft drawn from afar with the actual six million precision engineered parts that make up a Boeing 747-400 series intercontinental airliner.

Hence the actual shock to their delicate nervous systems when they find themselves at the wrong end of Misinformed Street with nobody but themselves and their own gullibility to blame.

GriseldaSmileytwofacedWanker remember, was only too keen a while back to voluntarily brag about having "a background in nuclear physics" - a claim best taken with a large pinch of ionically bonded sodium and chlorine.

Ugh! What a repulsive comment culture you have here. On all sides.

Mr. Lambert, I have rarely visited here, and I don't plan to come back again, but in the spirit of constructive criticism, is this really the kind of blog you want to have?

R.L. Schaefer.

Which rabid anti-environmental source are you channeling?

Fact #1:

DDT has catastrophic impacts on many non-target species, including predatory birds. It's not a good thing to be wantonly dumping into the environment.

Fact #2:

20th century overuse of DDT both for agriculture and for disease vector control resulted in mosquito resistance, which subsequently reduced the chemical's effectiveness and increased malaria deaths.

Fact #3:

Although DDT has been banned for many agricultural uses it is still available for disease control: deaths resulting from malaria are not caused by bans on DDT use or by environmentalists attempting to maintain a viable global ecosystem.

Fact #4:

DDT does have human health effects.

Fact #5:

Even wholesale, carpet-bombing application of DDT would have had almost no chance of eradicating West Nile virus from the USA. Once it was in the reservoir host bird population it would have been immune to local ove-rapplication of organochloride pesticides, and it was on its way to travelling around the country. Further, even if birds were not the weak link, it's unlikely that all mosquitoes could have been killed with DDT - all that would have happened would be that there would have been a local slowing of transmission, with a subsequent surge as resistant mosquitoes were selected for and increased. And even if every last infected mosquito had been killed in the 1999 outbreak, it would have done little to stem the spread from other sources over time - with international travel, or sooner or later with climate change, WNV was inevitably going to land in the USA. All that would have been achieved would have been a mass killing of many non-target species in the US north-east, with possible endangerment of whole populations of vulnerable species, and with no long term outcome for human health.

That last was me. One of my friends used my computer yesterday to ask about html tags and I didn't notice that his name and email were still in the respective fields.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 #permalink

R.L.Schaefer: "The DDT ban..."
Goodness, its almost like he didn't read the rest of the thread before posting...Oh wait, he didn't - Google the name and key phrase and you'll find he's been copy-pasting this to various blogs for six months. Use of the word "ban" kind of proves Tim's point.

"DDT has saved more lives than any other chemical invention in history." A completely vacuous assertion.

"Wind turbines...have killed more birds...then DDT ever has."A completely laughable assertion.

"If ...[we used]... DDT in the one New York county...we might have been able to stop the spread of the deadly virus to the rest of North America. Now, this killer disease is with us forever."
Oooh, are we playing "three card monte"? Players at home should note how R.L. seamlessly moves from "might" to implying "would" without having to defend that assertion. If DDT might have stopped WNV, then logically, it also might not. Which would have left the condition of killer disease with us forever + environmental issues others have referred to. In which case, DDT use / non-use is not a black and white issue, but a risk / benefit issue. Unless R.L. Schaefer can inform us of the relative probabilities and costs, he simply has his hand on it.

Of course, I would expect that subtlety to escape anyone with the anti-environment, pseudo-libertarian form R.L. has shown on other blogs. Again, home viewers may want to search the name to see the form. Al Gore is fat, gubmint is ebil, regulation is too, stop the wetbacks, stop the watermelons roonin' us all, more offshore drilling, everything used to be better adn everything I don't like is an existential threat to us all...the whole kit and/or caboodle...

Reading his musing gave me a sad :-(

I see someone new citing an article from junkscience.com, apparently unaware of how utterly unscientific most of its content is - or maybe they were applying a self-discrediting strategy, a la Clown Troll par excellence, Sunspot?

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 24 Oct 2012 #permalink

Lotharsson above: given that USKMS appeared on the open thread at around the same time I wouldn't be surprised if it is just another sock.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 24 Oct 2012 #permalink

Why bring up DDT and its history when we have far better forms of mosquito control these days. Yes, I know it had to do with Yale Environment 360's inaccurate article by Fred Pearce but really, it's all water under the bridge.

By Enviro Equipme… (not verified) on 24 Oct 2012 #permalink

"I know it had to do with Yale Environment 360′s inaccurate article by Fred Pearce but really, it’s all water under the bridge."

Since you know the article has just been made, how can it be water under the bridge?

Planet 3.0 (above) agrees with one of Pearce's arguments about GMOs and nuclear energy, namely:

1. There are unquestionably environmentalists who have and promote fears about certain technologies that are unsupported or in contradiction to the balance of scientific evidence.

The statement makes one claim then follows this with another that is not necessarily empirically supported IMO. That is: "certain technologies that are unsupported or in contradiction to the balance of scientific evidence".

What evidence is this? Studies produced by the agro-biotech/pesticide manufacturers themselves? Or from the nuclear industry? The data certainly is far from being 'all in' on both counts. In the US, regulations have been gutted and the regulatory bodies have had their teeth pulled since the 1980s and the effects on the health and safety of GMOs in the environment have therefore never been fully elucidated. Its well documented how negative results on bovine growth hormone were suppressed (see articles by Rampton and Stauber and PR Watch), how the inconvenient results of Arpad Pusztai and his lectin research were buried (along with Pusztai's scientific reputation), and how the technology has been foisted onto societies in the south with often quite devastasting social consequences.

What aboput the massive social and political ramifications of GM technology that are rarely if ever addressed by the scientific community? These technologies are intellectual property, are hoarded by the corporations who invest heavily in them, and are not freely shared with the poor nations, who instead have to pay to the going rate for them. GM technology requires deep PR cover which has been found using the specter of global hunger. But this ignores the fact that the real root of poverty and hunger is social injustice, NOT the lack of various techno-fixes. Western foreign policy towards the third world has long been based on exploitation and plunder, as western elites covet the vast mineral and resource wealth in less developed nations. The recent capitlaist experiment known as 'neoliberalism' has only exacerbated these divisions, allowing for even more repatriation of wealth for the poor to the rich nations. Africa's share of the global ecomomy shrunk from an already tiny 4% to a miniscule 1.3% between 1983 and 2003. Historian Mark Curtis has claimed in his analyses of British foregin policy that the state of Britian as defined has exisited for a single reason only over the past 400 years: to promote the interests of British businesses and corporations abroad. This has often resulted in quite abhorrent policies that have resulted in the death of millions and the maintenance of grinding poverty.Yet somehow the writings of Planet 3.0 appear to suggest that underlying the brazenly imperial policies of the United States and other developed nations is some benign, almost humble form of humility and the honest promotion of poverty alleviation. John Pilger argues, correctly in my view, that western foreign policies are violent and ruthless but hide behind a democratic facade, requiring the public to believe a suite of messianic assumptions about our supposed adherence to myths such as the promotion of democracy and freedom. The late Harold Pinter called this propaganda a "quite remarkable, even witty, act of hypnosis".

Tis is also where, in my opinion, Pearce becomes derailed. He focuses his critricisms on environmental groups that have virtually no influence on public policy, whilst giving a free pass to those whose actions and influence are sending our planes life support systems t to hell in a handbasket (and who never admit their onw role in this).He also over emphasizes the role of technology is delaing with the ongoing and growing crisis, whilst ignoring the salient fact that there is little or no political will to change course because of the massive influence cast on society by big business. Planet 3.0 similarly falls into this rather neoclassical economics pitfall of arguing in favor of various unproven technologies, many of which also are more environmentally destructive than those which they are replacing. By now it should be clear that humans are overexploiting natural systems, and that we need to redress this fact. At the same time, we also need to acknowledge the massive power structures (governments, banks, corporations) which hold public opinion in contempt and which are colluding to (1) ensure that economic divisions remain intact, allowing for resources and capital to be exproporiated from the south without impediment, and (2) are using quite sophisticated PR to convince the public that the interests of the privileged few and the poor many are actually one and the same.Noam Comsky was quite correct when he said that the biggest enemy of any state, ANY state, is its own population.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 25 Oct 2012 #permalink

Quite so Jeff.

As a very recent example, Monckton in Gibralter shows the inactivists will shamelessly bleat about about poverty and inequality being much more serious problems than climate change, despite them having had and still having a do-nothing approach to those problems and injustices as well.

It's almost as if fomenting civil war and social unrest to hobble government social policies in resource rich areas in order to exploit those resources for a pittance at their point of origin whilst making multinational corporations fabulously rich is a shareholder's happy accident and not due to fault or design.

Excellent post Jeff. I would like to add just one thing. One of the major reasons for poverty and malnutrition in the developing world, especially Africa, is that the indigenous peoples' land where they had farmed for centuries was taken away from them by the colonialists and turned into large plantations which produced cash crops for the developed world such as cotton, tobacco, maize etc. The locals were forced to farm on the inferior land left to them.

They then became dependent on imported "food" from the West. This food is only available at low cost to these countries because of tho obscene subsidies paid to Western farmers.

It is because of these obscene subsidies that American farmers can afford to grow the hugely expensive and lower quality genetically modified (via rDNA technology) crops. Take away these subsidies and the US farmer will turn away from GMO's.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 25 Oct 2012 #permalink

Ian and Chek,

Many thanks for this. Yes, you have both made several really important points. The thrust of my argument is that many scientists fall into the techno-trap without appearing to have any understanding of the powerful socio-politiical forces that are creating both environmental problems and maintaining poverty. The myth that appears to be forever promulgated is that people mired in poverty in the south are the victim of accidental circumstances. As you both (and I) said, there's nothing whatsoever accidental about the foreign policy agendas of western elites and how they are driving and maintaining poverty whilst destroying the environment. One just has to leaf through the documents of western state and corporate planners and the real agendas become manifestly clear. But we cannot expect this to be done by the private media enterprises, as they are beholden to the profit-driven system. In fact, they are a part of it.

Over the years its become pretty clear to me what major forces drive western economic policy. None of this has to do with the spreading of freedom or democracy or human rights, but has everything to do with outright expansionism and the subjugation of resources and capital from other nations (the 'resource curse' I alluded to earlier) whilst denigrating and undermining any countries which attempt to take a path away from the 'Washington Consensus' and its neoliberal economic policies. The remarkable success of state-corporate propaganda is that this view is seen as 'controversial' by most people, whilst the notion of our noble intentions and benevolence is rarely questioned. Mistakes are made, but the idea that our nations commit crimes in pursuit of brazenly ruthless agendas is seldom aired. The Planet 3.0 site has some good commentary, but some of it is undermined (in my opinion) by the belief that dealing with climate change and other environmental threats will require technology as well as changes in ongoing policies. Essentially, as I said, many of the technologies are more destructive to the environment than those they replace (modern fishing and mineral extraction practices come to mind). Moreover, manipulation of the genomes of plants and animals is not a way to deal with fraying food webs, collapsing ecosystems, and lost ecological services. The technology is nothing more in my opinion than a massive PR stunt with the main aim of ensuring massive profits for a small groups of pesticide companies that have invested billions of dollars into it. There are environmental risks that have never been properly tested, and it is a for-profit technology is never going to be freely shared with the farmers of the south.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 25 Oct 2012 #permalink

For the 'ignoratti' around here WRT funding of climate science denial and obfuscation see here on what the Kochs use to hide their tentacles:

Fakery 2: More Funny Finances, Free Of Tax from the seemingly tireless John Mashey.

So, you were saying 'socks' et. al.?

Here we see revealed some of the real enemies of the people, yes people like you 'socks' et. al.?

Someone just addressed above is about to misconstrue the meaning of that last given their record on context and comprehension.

It's astonishing what John Mashey's researches bring into the light. I don't think it's overstating things to say that the reptiles he's uncovering are actually involved in a slow motion coup d'etat against democracy, as it's understood by the vast majority of its citizens in Westworld.

Rachel Carson, in her own words:
speaking to the National Women's Press Club in 1962:

CARSON: "Now, I don't want to belabor the obvious, because anyone who has really read the book knows that I do favor insect control in appropriate situations. That I do not advocate the complete abandonment of chemical control. That I criticize modern chemical control not because it controls harmful insects but because it controls them badly and inefficiently. And because it creates many dangerous side effects in doing so.
I criticize the present methods because they are based on a rather low level of scientific thinking. We really are capable of much greater sophistication in our solution to this problem...."

From: A Look Back at Rachel Carson
Air Date: Week of September 21, 2012


By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 25 Oct 2012 #permalink

Gee, when you put it like, that, Hank, you'd almost think some of the anti-environmentalist commenters above have no idea what they're talking about...

What, no more obnoxious, made-up pseudofactettes to spatter around? So, it is possible for even reactionary anti-environmentalist internet trolls to realise they have lost an argument...

Get used to it: one day you're going to be too ashamed/afraid to air your imbecilic climate opinions aloud, too.

Greedy Lying Bastards looks like an outstanding piece of investigative journalism and fact checking. Its the perfect antidote for Olaus who keeps denying that there's much money being invested in climate change denial, when in fact its a huge industry in itself.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 27 Oct 2012 #permalink

Dr. Roberts shill for Africa Fighting Malaria which was founded as a disinformation operation to destroy the WHO initiative against tobacco use. The malaria campaign the WHO had started was simply be a tool in that campaign, collateral damage as it were.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 27 Oct 2012 #permalink

Sad - I really liked Robyn Williams science reporting - why his critical faculties fail him now I know not. It would be so easy you would think for him to check WHO and ask, was there ever a ban on DDT for disease vector control.

Nope - he swallows it :(


And besides, blaming someone from the 60s for a non-existent ban or even if there was a ban today is like blaming Wright brothers for safety equipment failure on an airliner. If only they didn't insist on these wing things. Sorry, there's a shit load of scientists, engineers and other jokers inbetween expanding upon prior work .. nope, no toxic testing done since then, everything set in stone at that point .. Aghhhh

By Dave McRae (not verified) on 28 Oct 2012 #permalink

Since that's Ockham's Razor maybe Tim could run up a reply? A lot of people trust Robyn Williams, myself among them, for the most part...

I've decided to answer the question of this thread.

The reason why Yale Environment 360 is spreading the DDT ban myth is because it is a story that insists that government interference in private industry will cost millions upon millions of lives. There is a side order of "those greenies hate humans and are killing off poor foreighn kiddies in their communistic orgy of destroying The American Way(tm)". Which is always welcome to businesses that fuck about with the planet and the ecosystem.

I've emailed Robyn Williams and will be doing an Ockam's piece in reply.

By Tim Lambert (not verified) on 28 Oct 2012 #permalink

Pleased to hear it, Tim! This anti-environmentalist myth is particular insidious, as William's susceptibility to it demonstrates...

Good to have you back in active circulation, Tim, and this was the perfect provocation to do it. So thanks, Fred, for the disinformation.

Bill, thanks for your incisive posts. You nailed it above when you said that the article further pushes the myth that government interference in the private sector has cost millions of lives. Thats the crux of it, and yet the reality is that transnational corporations do not give a damn about human welfare or the environment. Their bottom line is clear. And it should also be clear that all of the front groups and astroturf organizations that have been set up with industry backing at the behest of giving the impression that human life matters in the south are a sham.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 29 Oct 2012 #permalink

Thanks, Jeff, but that was Wow.

We often get confused...


Tim. Welcome back. We have missed you.

Sorry Wow! But I like what you both write anyway. Keep the good ideas comin'!

And yes, Tim, its great to have you back. Deltoid is my favourite web site by far. You have been missed.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 29 Oct 2012 #permalink

... that "ugly" big corporations wanted to produce DDT - a lie.

DDT is very easy to produce. DDT began to produce even the poorest countries. Currently, he is even still produced eg in India. Corporations began to lose billions of dollars - per year! Corporations wanted (and they want - use environmental organizations, health - state and UNEP - such as the EPA, WHO - do the corruption?) get poor countries to import, eg: extremely complicated: inhibitors of chitin.

By Arkadiusz Semczyszak (not verified) on 29 Oct 2012 #permalink

It is obvious that the discussed article F.P. is “a very low level” ...

... but here, by the way, you want to say that practically everything was all right,
... and if there are errors science and practice - the "green" ...

In my country (as in a majority of countries) there was no formal bans the use of DDT - outside agriculture. When the ban (agriculture) was introduced in 1973 ... discontinued DDT for protection against insects home.


In hundreds of articles DDT-DDE were accused of (all) possibly the worst "crimes" (carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, etc..), referring to the results of research ... "
(when I told the students - the beginning of the nineties - about the fact that DDT has many advantages - it would continue to apply “in home”; "environmentalists" from my university ...)

Most of objections to DDT (big harmfulness for the environment) has not “survived” by "test of time" - what must to say even the EPA report (http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPURL.cgi?Dockey=P100CDKA.txt).

"Fell" (at malaria context) even the first - the main “incrimination”:

“Anderson notes that there appears to be a threshold of one to three ppm for DDE in eggs below which there is no eggshell thinning in even sensitive bird species. Dusting DDT on the walls of houses in developing countries to control for mosquitoes seems unlikely to cross that threshold for birds.”

With malaria and climate is even worse than DDT: (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/abs/nature09098.html) Climate change and the global malaria recession, Gething et al., 2010.:

“First, widespread claims that rising mean temperatures have already led to increases in worldwide malaria morbidity and mortality are largely at odds with observed decreasing global trends in both its endemicity and geographic extent. Second, the proposed future effects of rising temperatures on endemicity are at least one order of magnitude smaller than changes observed since about 1900 and up to two orders of magnitude smaller than those that can be achieved by the effective scale-up of key control measures.”

If any of you (environmentalists) is “without sin among” ...

By Arkadiusz Semczyszak (not verified) on 29 Oct 2012 #permalink

Not as big a lie as saying DDT has been banned, trollski.

You may now get back to your statist propoganda.

After all, arguably, Chalres Darwin caused the holocaust with his theory of evo-whatever. And Einsteins claim that everything is relative has eroded public morality to the point where we have shootings, the 911 attacks and so on. Arguably.

ARguably by limiting smoking by kids we're preventing them from developing smog resistance. Arguably hurricane sandy was caused by a cadre of environmentalists making chaos butterflies flap their wings at just the right time.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 30 Oct 2012 #permalink

Tim was gone long enough that I say his students' robots should be conquering the planet by now. What's the point of building them otherwise?

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 30 Oct 2012 #permalink

Arkadiusz, from under which corporate rock have you crawled from?

Transnational corporations are more than ugly: they are psychopathic institutions that pursue a single bottom line. Hence why they must be heavily regulated. Citing documents from the EPA is an own goal on your part: that body was gutted years ago and it has become a revolving door between government and industry.

The main argument is that DDT represents an 'example' for the pesticide industries: they use it as an example of government regulation running amok in an attempt to loosen (or eliminate) regulations limiting the use of new pesticides that come onto the market. Of course, the manufacturers, in their psychopathy, don't give a rats ass about the human or environmental health effects of their products, but whether that are marketable and profitable. This explains why many industries are repeatedly caught dumping toxic wastes into streams, rivers and other water course. One UK company reputably broke the laws in one year 1500 times a few years ago. These toxins can certainly have huge effects on human health and on the health of local ecosystems. So why do they do it when they know this beforehand? Its because fines they receive when caught are a slap on the wrist. At the same time, the safe disposal of these chemicals is often very expensive. So they make a simple cost-benefit analysis, and decide that the risk of getting caught dumping the wastes into water courses is less costly than to safely deal with their toxic by-products. Joel Bakan gives several examples of this quite simply pathological behavior of corporations in his 2004 book, 'The Corporation'. Its quite scary stuff.

Wake up to reality, pal, before you wade in here with more nonsense.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 30 Oct 2012 #permalink

Go back to the original sources, and I think you'll discover Kissinger never proposed "depopulation," nor did anyone else. (Love to have a cite if you claim otherwise.)

Also re: [quote] Fred uses the term “Blanket Opposition” [from Environmentalists] which is undeniably true.[end quote]

It may be important to note that the earliest calls for total bans came from scientists. In fact, in an assessment of what needed to be done in inventing new polymers and testing and regulating old ones, in 1970, the National Science Foundation called for a complete and total ban on DDT. NSF noted DDT had been one of the most beneficial chemicals ever synthesized, but noted its harms outweigh its benefits.

Plus, EDF, the group who first sued to stop DDT use, has constantly backed the use of DDT in indoor residual spraying programs (IRS), the programs used to fight malaria -- despite the NSF call for a complete ban.

In the end, the issue is bit more complex than the Pearce-approved fiction lets on -- but Pearce still gets the story wrong in every conceivable way. Carson didn't make a case only against mass use of DDT, but against use of many chemicals whose effects we did not know; at no point did the environmentalists' call for careful use "morph" into a blanket ban, never in Africa, never in Asia, not even in the U.S.; malaria death rates dropped constantly after the U.S. ban on DDT, and even after WHO stopped using DDT extensively in 1965, seven years before the U.S. ban on agricultural use. Consequently, because the death rates dropped, it is absolutely 180 degrees in error to say "millions more died." Millions fewer died. The "resurgence" of malaria in the 1980s was due to the malaria parasites' developing resistance to the most-used pharmaceuticals, and had nothing to do with mosquitoes; malaria deaths continued to drop, no new DDT applications were required; new pharmaceuticals and new treatment protocols stepped up the rate of decline of malaria again.

Pearce packs no fewer than five lies in that one sentence. That's not science, it's hardline, anti-science propaganda.

By Ed Darrell (not verified) on 30 Oct 2012 #permalink

Hi Ed,

Good to read your post.

The now-infamous Kissinger quote has many sources. This is one:


Besides, along with Nixon, Kissinger certainly 'helped' to depopulate Cambodia by literally bombing the country flat and killing up to 600,000 people - one of many US war crimes that have been sent down the memory hole. You may recall Kissinger's obedient call for 'Anything that flies on anything that moves' after Nixon ordered the US to 'hit' Cambodia hard.

As for Pearce's rather uni-dimensional argument, I repeat the fact that environmentalist NGOs have utterly no influence on public policy. That's because, although they may have quite some support among the general public, those in power and their corporate paymasters hold democracy in complete and utter contempt and consider real public opinion to be nothing more than a nuisance. To be ignored. There are many precedents that are not worth repeating here.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 31 Oct 2012 #permalink

"It may be important to note that the earliest calls for total bans came from scientists"


If the chemical is so dangerous (and it is: it kills insects) and there are better ways (there are), then it ought to be banned, right?

If not, why?

But despite this, IT WASN'T BANNED.

Ergo what you're bibbling on about here is completely irrelevant. You're just hating on the environment because you think you're superior to it.

Changing the issue slightly, but well in keeping with this topic, I'd like to raise the issue of the growing antibiotic resistance of microbes.

In every country in the world that uses antibiotics (and probably in most that do not), the reckless use of antibiotics for a wide variety of non-medical profit reasons - as well as the staggering extent of inappropriate medical use - has brought the world to the brink of a period where bacterial infection is about to resume the grim grip that it had on humans less than 80 years ago. Throw in the novel circumstances of unprecedented human population density and international movement, and we have a recipe for disaster.

Now, medical and biological scientists have been warning for decades of the profound risks of overuse of one of humanity's best defences against bacterial disease, but very little has been done to seriously address the problem, although some response is starting to occur. Death rates are about to increase rapidly in spite of this, mirroring the malaria situation when mosquitoes became resistant to DDT, and there's no reason not to suspect that the end result will make the malaria context pale by comparison, especially as different genera of bacteria share their resistance genes with gay abandon. And it won't just be Third World, 'coloured' people in the cross hairs this time...

Are the scientists and doctors who have warned about the inappropriate use of antibiotics going to be held responsible for the impending increase in deaths from antibiotic-resistant infection? Are the DDt denialists going to deny the fact of antibiotic resistance as much as they deny the fact of DDT resistance, and find that they hate environmentalists concerned about the negative ecological impacts that antibiotics have, as much as they hate environmentalists concerned about the negative ecological impacts that DDT has?

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 31 Oct 2012 #permalink

Well said Bernard, the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria is one of the major health problems facing us today. In the past this was due to the huge over use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. However, a second and even more insidious factor in this spread of antibiotic resistance is the widespread misuse of antibiotic resistant genes in modern crop development where the actual resistant genes are bio-engineered into every crop modified by rDNA technology. There is ample evidence, despite what the GMO promoters say, that these genes are capable of horizontal transfer to bacteria in the human gut and elsewhere.

When are scientists and other knowledgeable people going to be able to speak out about this dangerous misuse of science without having their professional and personal careers destroyed by the vocal promoters of this technology? For example, just check out the backgrounds of the GMO shills who are involved with the Science Media Centre in the UK. All of them have close professional and financial ties to the transnational companies producing and selling these products.


Note: the use of antibiotic resistant genes is only one of the problems that have been observed and discussed by scientists, contrary to Pearce's statement :

Three current issues suggest that the risks of myopic adherence to ideology over rational debate are real: genetically modified (GM) crops, nuclear power, and shale gas development. The conventional green position is that we should be opposed to all three. Yet the voices of those with genuine environmental credentials, but who take a different view, are being drowned out by sometimes abusive and irrational argument.

The "abusive and irrational" comments are coming from the GMO shills at SMC and other industry sponsored right wing think tanks, not from honest scientists, which is exactly the same MO as the AGW deniers.

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 31 Oct 2012 #permalink

The BBC does an absolutely wonderful piece on Rachel Carson. Unlike the ABC radio, well worth a listen


Yeah, I'm still shitty over Robyn Williams letting slip that there was/is a DDT ban for disease vectors and that no research post 1962 is permitted by the UN(Stockholm Convention 2004) or WHO

Wow's post just prior to Tim's is spot on: Carson must be smeared. Evidence based policy and regulations could interfere with profitability. Thus the need to associate evidence based policy with baby killing.

By Dave McRae (not verified) on 28 Dec 2012 #permalink

Jeff Harvey,

Silenced No More offers no trail to any claim from Henry Kissinger that the world should be depopulated. The claim that Kissinger said that, is a bogus claim. It's a hoax. It's made up.

At a much shadier blog than this one (I mean it's really bad there; God help us, and them, they think the UN wants to steal our golf courses), I explained a while ago:

I Googled the quote [in which Kissinger is claimed to have called for depopulation], and I could find nothing that indicated when or where he was supposed to have said it. I did find two sources that said while that wasn’t what he said exactly, he sorta meant it.

Henry Kissinger has his troubles. But again, you suggest that he works against the dozens of books he’s published, the advice and policies he gave and held as National Security Director and Secretary of State, and everything he’s worked for over the 40+ years since. If you’re going to make such an extraordinary claim, you need powerful, extraordinary evidence.

You tell me you heard a tape that sounded like him once? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t cut it.

You might want to take a look at some of the documents the National Security Council produced under Kissinger. They were worried, back in the 1970s, about threats to critical mineral supplies that come from places where many people are poor, many are hungry, and consequently governments may be destabilized. It was a prescient concern — but a concern which at no time produced a drive to depopulation. The political issue is this: Lower population growth nations tend to [be] politically stable, and therefore greater exponents of freedom. If you read the papers, you’ll see there is great concern to avoid doing anything that would be coercive, nor that would even smack of coercion, both because that would be wrong, and because were such policies exposed at any time, they would be very unpopular both overseas and at home in the U.S.

Two big things happened after Kissinger’s time. First, Norman Borlaug’s “green revolution” really took off, boosting food production around the world enough to significantly reduce hunger in even the poorest nations. We have not eliminated hunger, but as a percentage of world population, it is greatly reduced. Some estimates say the hard numbers are also reduced, though world population has more than doubled.

The second big occurrence was the observation among food experts and population experts that increased personal income is the best way to reduce population. Simply, when families achieve a degree of wealth so that they do not worry about food, shelter and employment, they reduce the size of their families voluntarily.

In places like India, South Africa, China, Brazil, Argentina, and Japan, increasing productivity, bringing increasing GDP and rising personal income. This, in turn, produced a slowing of population growth, and in some places, a reversal of population growth (world population continues to increase exponentially).

That has not ended the issues with materials availability, however. Oil comes from an area that has been increasingly unstable since the early 1970s, the Middle East. Much of that instability since 1991 has been as a result of the ripples of demand for change for greater democracy after the end of the Cold War. it is a sometimes difficult process — Libya, Yemen, Syria, even Egypt — but it is a process that ultimately leads to greater stability, greater democracy, and so far, free market economics that brings greater prosperity and slower population growth.

Our world is not a perfect one by any stretch. We still need stuff from places where living conditions are, at best, oppressive. Our electronic devices need metals refined from an ore called coltan, which is found in Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, usually mined by hand by people living in crushing poverty who make pennies a day, and then transmitted through warlord-controlled groups to markets in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Gold is often mined the same way. Peace is required to stabilize these areas — which is why we have troops in Africa hunting down Joseph Koney and his bizarre army of kidnapped children fighters.

None of that involves depopulation.

Kissinger is a great defender of free markets and anti-authoritarian governments. What you claim for evidence suggesting Kissinger has forsaken his lifelong work just doesn’t cut it.

See Wikiquotes’ tracking of the quote you claim:

Here’s the quote from NSSM 200: “Whatever may be done to guard against interruptions of supply and to develop domestic alternatives, the U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries. That fact gives the U.S. enhanced interest in the political, economic, and social stability of the supplying countries. Wherever a lessening of population pressures through reduced birth rates can increase the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes relevant to resource supplies and to the economic interests of the United States.”

Notice that at no point does he call for depopulation, for reduction in population, or for authoritarian management of population. Let’s blow the whistle on that misquote. Someone has been pulling your leg.

And Mr. Harvey, that is true for you, too.

Kissinger didn't say the world should be depopulated. DDT was never banned in Africa, nor in Asia -- it's still freely available, but it doesn't work well as a sole panacea against malaria, and it doesn't even work as well as it once did. Rachel Carson didn't call for a ban on DDT, but instead warned that unless abuse of the stuff were stopped, mosquitoes would develop immunity to it. No one listened to her in 1962, abuse of DDT continued, by 1965 mosquitoes in Africa developed resistance and immunity to DDT and WHO had to end its campaign to eradicate malaria as a result. Carson DID recommend integrated pest management strategies; we now use those strategies, and malaria has declined by 50% in total infections and declined by 75% in total world deaths, as a result of the application of the methods Ms. Carson urged.

And the planet? It still warms.

By Ed Darrell (not verified) on 29 Dec 2012 #permalink

As for Pearce’s rather uni-dimensional argument, I repeat the fact that environmentalist NGOs have utterly no influence on public policy. That’s because, although they may have quite some support among the general public, those in power and their corporate paymasters hold democracy in complete and utter contempt and consider real public opinion to be nothing more than a nuisance. To be ignored. There are many precedents that are not worth repeating here.

Right. You would do well to acquaint yourself with the work of the Gates Foundation on malaria, who have distributed millions of insecticide-treated bednets, and whose work has led directly to a reduction in malaria infections and deaths, and who are now proposing a new campaign to eradicate malaria from the Earth (without DDT).

You may also want to consider that the previous effort, while nominally under the direction of WHO (do you consider that treaty organization an NGO?), was led by the Rockefeller Foundation's great anti-malaria guy, Fred Soper, and that Norman Borlaug's Nobel Prize-winning work that saved a billion or two from starvation, was also NGO work.

Anyone who dismisses NGOs as ineffective seems not to know much about international aid, NGOs, or history.

By Ed Darrell (not verified) on 29 Dec 2012 #permalink

Ed, you've done nothing to counter the claim that:

"environmentalist NGOs have utterly no influence on public policy."

All you've done is show that environmental NGO's have done good things.

Wow, your claim that the Green Revolution had no effect on public policy is bizarre and unevidenced. Care to make an argument?

Arkadiuzs, you said:

Most of objections to DDT (big harmfulness for the environment) has not “survived” by “test of time” – what must to say even the EPA report (http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPURL.cgi?Dockey=P100CDKA.txt).

Interesting study of concentrations of DDT in soil; the article precisely notes the scientific support that DDT is harmful to the environment. Why you claim the opposite is a mystery to me. However, you should be alert to the purpose of looking at DDT in soil: DDT is sucked up as if by a magnet by any living tissue, when DDT is present in soil or water. Consequently, DDT presence in soil is an indicator of lack of microbial activity, and a powerful indicator of great risk to living things. EPA uses this measure partly in determining actions at DDT contamination sites, and for other evaluations. The paper does NOT claim that DDT is not toxic, nor does it claim that toxicity is not so great as previously calculated -- had it done so, it would have been the foundation for a lawsuit to overturn EPA's regulation of DDT use. You should note carefully the citation of more than 1,000 papers on avian toxicity in the document. A careful reader would note the document also discusses DDT toxicity to plants, a topic that has not been discussed in any regulatory activity, but from which studies confirm the overall toxicity of DDT and suggest the difficulties with biomagnification of DDT and its metabolites in moving up trophic levels.

In short, safe levels of DDT in soil quickly become toxic levels in living things, particularly when we look up trophic levels to the predators at the top of the food chain, and particularly the avian predators.

That paper in no way denies toxic effects of DDT; carcinogenicity has not been an issue with DDT since 1972, at least not officially, and not for EPA.

By Ed Darrell (not verified) on 29 Dec 2012 #permalink

It’s almost as if fomenting civil war and social unrest to hobble government social policies in resource rich areas in order to exploit those resources for a pittance at their point of origin whilst making multinational corporations fabulously rich is a shareholder’s happy accident and not due to fault or design.

So, your claim is that large corporations prefer to invest in politically unstable places?

Helluva hypothesis. I can think of no study that has ever supported such a claim. My experience (brief) in board rooms is that exactly the opposite is accurate. Corporations vastly prefer political stability and certainty. Even stability obtained by authoritarian methods otherwise at odds with commercial expansion can be preferred over unstable governments and unstable markets.

By Ed Darrell (not verified) on 29 Dec 2012 #permalink

They have done, Ed.

Germany in the 30's and early 40's for example.

"Wow, your claim that the Green Revolution had no effect on public policy is bizarre and unevidenced"

Since there is an absence of evidence that the Green Revolution has had any notable effect on public policy, you need to show evidence that there has been a notable effect on public policy.

Absence of evidence for a mechanism is evidence for its absence.

It's a pity you don't understand that, Ed.