...and it can prove hazardous to national, economic, social and personal health and welfare (not to mention to animals and nature itself). A little harsh perhaps? See what you think.
The deadly shame of the DDT ban
When German chemist Paul Mueller discovered in 1939 that DDT (discovered in the century before) killed flies, lice, fleas and mosquitoes, carriers of some of the world’s worst infectious diseases including the bubonic plague, typhus, yellow fever and malaria, the end of the last, the world’s biggest killer, was finally in sight.
By the late 1940s and early 1950s, malaria had virtually been eradicated in some regions, until one American environmentalist, Rachel Carson, published her book Silent Spring. Carson’s work had been preoccupied with DDT studies. The book is attributed with introducing the concept of ecology to America and is widely acknowledged as the founding document of the modern environmental movement.
Her book had started life as a report in a US lawsuit designed to prevent DDT from being sprayed from the air. The suit failed. But by now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was interested, not least in the suggestion from Carson’s work that DDT may cause cancer in humans. In 1971, the EPA held hearings to assess the risks of DDT. Though the hearing examiner concluded that DDT was NOT a carcinogenic hazard to man, in 1972, the EPA administrator, William Ruckelshaus, banned DDT anyway, on the basis that it “posed a carcinogenic risk”. There was no scientific evidence for such a view, just a “belief” that it might.
The poorer nations pay the price
The politicization of the science of DDT continued apace after this environmentalist ‘success’. By 1955, around ten percent of the world’s population were affected by malaria, an estimated 300 to 400 million people every year contracted malaria, with between three and four million dying. India alone was losing almost one million people a year to malaria. In the same year, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a “world wide war on malaria”. By 1967, the campaign (and use of DDT), had led directly to the almost complete eradication of malaria in many regions of the world. Whole areas of Asian and Latin America were freed from the malarial threat. India’s death toll dropped to a tiny number.
After the 1972 EPA decision the WHO quickly followed suit discouraging the use of DDT around the globe. By 2004 serious infections from malaria were back up to a staggering 300 million with around two million dying every year, largely in Africa. It is now estimated that the DDT ban has led directly to the deaths of between 10 and 30 million people worldwide. This shameful ban is still in place today.
“To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT…In little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths, due to malaria, that otherwise would have been inevitable.”
The Life Sciences, National Academy of Science,
NAS Press, Washington DC. 1970
“The environmental movement abandoned science and logic somewhere in the mid-1980s, just as mainstream society was adopting the more reasonable items on the environmental agenda. This was because many environmentalists couldn’t make the transition from confrontation to consensus, and could not get out of adversarial politics."
"This particularly applies to political activists who were using environmental rhetoric to cover up agendas that had more to do with class warfare and anti-corporatism than they did with the actual science of the environment. To stay in an adversarial role, those people had to adopt ever more extreme positions because all the reasonable ones were being accepted.”
Patrick Moore: Founder of Greenpeace
(Patrick resigned from the organization in 1986)
The same ideologically driven political activism that came to dominate the environmental movement of which Patrick Moore speaks, today forms the highly vocal vanguard in the Global Warming alarmism movement.
A sobering thought, is it not?
(Source: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science by Tom Bethell. It is more than worth buying this book for the whole story of the DDT ban alone. However, the DDT ban is just the tip of what is a distinctly anti-science iceberg as the book reveals. )