Malarial Spring

 

googledoodleGoogle today celebrates the 107th birthday of the patron saint of the environmental movement, Rachel Carson, with one of its occasional homepage “doodles.” The predictable result:  a torrent of favorable publicity for the “Mother of the Green Movement” and Silent Spring author who birthed the US Environmental Protection Agency and a global ban on the insecticide DDT.

Nearly lost in a sea of hagiographic links, an inconvenient truth can here and there be discerned: Banning DDT caused the avoidable death, by malaria, of at least 50 million human beings, mainly in the developing world. And the collateral damage continues today. As many as 2.7 million die each year of a disease that was on its way to obliteration prior to Carson’s profoundly unscientific campaign to ban a safe and effective insecticide.

Most of the world will learn nothing of the human toll taken by the resurgence of mosquito-borne disease in the wake of Carson’s political success. The typical take:

She was criticised by the chemical industry and some governments as an alarmist but she courageously remained steadfast in her stand. She testified before the Congress in 1963 and appealed for new policies to protect human health and environment. Her efforts did not go in vain for a reversal in national pesticide policy was made which led to a worldwide ban on DDT on agricultural use.

Poor African children might have joined the chemical industry in protesting the courageous and steadfast environmentalist but were sidelined by a progressive and often fatal relapsing fever.

Writing in Forbes, Hoover Institution fellow and former FDA official Dr. Henry Miller — somehow not featured by Google this morning — provides the definitive summary:

The legacy of Rachel Carson is that tens of millions of human lives – mostly children in poor, tropical countries – have been traded for the possibility of slightly improved fertility in raptors. This remains one of the monumental human tragedies of the last century.  

 

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  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    The “modern environmental movement” may trace its history to Rachel Carson, but there has been a very strong conservation movement in the United States going back much, much farther.

    John James Audubon publised his first bird guide in 1827, and The Audubon Society was founded in 1905. The Sierra Club was founded in 1882. Ducks Unlimited was founded in 1937. Etc.

    What Carson represents is not the birth of American environmentalism, but rather the moment in history that environmental activism became the stalking horse for socialist economics, malthusian demographics, and totalitarian politics.

    • #1
  2. Trajan Thatcher
    Trajan
    @Trajan

    Yes, saw this and tweeted it a few hours ago myself. Agitprop at it finest and that google perpetuates the myth and burys the real legacy, is naturally par for the course.

    Misthiocracy- spot on.

    Only Sanger gets better treatment for her awfuls, than Carson.

    The “Big Lie’ lives on.

    • #2
  3. user_240173 Contributor
    user_240173
    @FrankSoto

    I’m glad George wrote this.  Now I don’t have to.

    • #3
  4. user_44643 Inactive
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    Earth first! We’ll log the other planets later.

    • #4
  5. George Savage Contributor
    George Savage
    @GeorgeSavage

    Misthiocracy: What Carson represents is not the birth of American environmentalism, but rather the moment in history that environmental activism became the stalking horse for socialist economics, malthusian demographics, and totalitarian politics.

     Absolutely.  Redirecting the widespread conservative impulse to preserve and enhance our environment–to be good and faithful stewards–toward support of statism is the signal achievement of the Left, especially after the evanescence of communism as a global force for fundamentally transformative hope and change.

    • #5
  6. George Savage Contributor
    George Savage
    @GeorgeSavage

    Mike LaRoche:

    Earth first! We’ll log the other planets later.

     Perhaps exported mosquitoes can be used to manage the Na’vi?

    • #6
  7. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Thanks, George, for reminding us that Rachel Carson is the worst mass murderer in human history, ahead of Stalin, Hitler and Mao.  And that the left celebrates her.

    • #7
  8. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Mike LaRoche:

    Earth first! We’ll log the other planets later.

    For only $19.99 a month, you too can support the important work of the Pave The Earth Foundation…

    • #8
  9. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Here is her bridge:

    Rachel Carson Bridge To Malaria

    • #9
  10. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    To be fair to Rachel Carson for a moment, her interest in synthetic pesticides really began as opposition to a United States Department of Agriculture plan for widespread spraying of DDT and other pesticides mixed with fuel oil over large tracts of land, including private land.

    May I assume that most of us here would oppose the federal government of the United States spraying any sort of substance on your property without your consent?

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Carson#Research_and_writing

    Also, Carson never advocated for the outright banning of DDT or other synthetic pesticides. She quoted the advice given by the director of Holland’s Plant Protection Service: “Practical advice should be ‘Spray as little as you possibly can’ rather than ‘Spray to the limit of your capacity’.”

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Spring

    One can argue that Carson’s book was merely a scientific treatise, not a political manifesto, and that her research was exploited by the socialist left, starting with the 1967 formation of the Environmental Defense Fund, whose goal was to “establish a citizen’s right to a clean environment”.

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    • #10
  11. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    What’s astonishing is that enviro-wackos still defend this on the basis that DDT was linked to declining raptor fertility rates, but refused to acknowledge that 10s of millions of human lives have been lost to malaria.  I can’t think of a better example of how little these nuts value human life.

    -E

    • #11
  12. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Misthiocracy: Also, Carson never advocated for the outright banning of DDT or other synthetic pesticides. She quoted the advice given by the director of Holland’s Plant Protection Service: “Practical advice should be ‘Spray as little as you possibly can’ rather than ‘Spray to the limit of your capacity’.”

    Her defenders are always very quick to bring this up.  They also continue to support the ban on DDT.

    -E

    • #12
  13. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    CandE:

    Misthiocracy: Also, Carson never advocated for the outright banning of DDT or other synthetic pesticides. She quoted the advice given by the director of Holland’s Plant Protection Service: “Practical advice should be ‘Spray as little as you possibly can’ rather than ‘Spray to the limit of your capacity’.”

    Her defenders are always very quick to bring this up. They also continue to support the ban on DDT…

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    …and therefore, should we blame Carson for publishing scientific research which was then exploited by the socialist left?

    By all the accounts I’ve read, the methods she proposed for using pesticides to control insect-borne diseases are identical to those proposed by the conservative/skeptical side of the argument today – limited,  targeted spraying.

    If everything that Carson said in the past about DDT and malaria is the same as what skeptical environmentalists like Bjorn Lombord say about it today, should conservatives demonize Carson merely because the socialist left likes to deify her?

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    • #13
  14. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    CandE:

    What’s astonishing is that enviro-wackos still defend this on the basis that DDT was linked to declining raptor fertility rates, but refused to acknowledge that 10s of millions of human lives have been lost to malaria.

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    Are the following statements factually incorrect?

    “DDT was never banned for anti-malarial use. Its ban for agricultural use in the United States in 1972 did not apply outside the U.S. nor to anti-malaria spraying. The international treaty that banned most uses of DDT and other organochlorine pesticides—the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants—included an exemption for the use of DDT for malaria control until affordable substitutes could be found. Mass outdoor spraying of DDT was abandoned in poor countries subject to malaria, such as Sri Lanka, in the 1970s and 1980s; this was not because of government prohibitions but because the DDT had lost its ability to kill the mosquitoes.” (Emphasis mine.)

    Also, Carson died in 1964. DDT was not banned for agricultural use until 1972.

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Spring#Criticisms_of_environmentalism_and_DDT_restrictions

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    • #14
  15. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    Larry3435:

    Thanks, George, for reminding us that Rachel Carson is the worst mass murderer in human history, ahead of Stalin, Hitler and Mao. And that the left celebrates her.

     I am interested in Misthiocracy’s comments, and am waiting to learn more–maybe it is in fact not true that Rachel Carson is responsible for millions of lives lost to malaria.  Nevertheless, when I made this [perhaps erroneous] claim about DDT and malaria to a lefty friend, her response was Dickensian, something along the lines that it was probably a benefit, having decreased the surplus population. My point is that the Left really didn’t care about whether banning DDT would kill lots of children overseas. Now if we still had malaria here in the US, I suspect that it might be a different story.

    • #15
  16. user_240173 Contributor
    user_240173
    @FrankSoto

    Misthiocracy,

    Those claims that DDT went out of widespread usage because of mosquito resistance instead of paranoid leftist fears are undercut by the fact that DDT continues to be used and is effective today.

    • #16
  17. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Frank Soto:

    Misthiocracy,

    Those claims that DDT went out of widespread usage because of mosquito resistance instead of paranoid leftist fears are undercut by the fact that DDT continues to be used and is effective today.

    I believe that the point is that the way it is used has changed.

    It was only mass outdoor spraying that was curtailed due to mosquito resistance.

    Today’s usage is much more targeted, which is what I’ve read Carson actually argued for when she was alive.

    Also, it may be true that agricultural use is still effective in countries that allow it, but farmers generally spray for insects other than mosquitoes, do they not?

    My point is not that Carson’s research into the effects of DDT on wildlife was correct.

    My argument is that, by all accounts I’ve read, it was honest scientific research. Research can be subsequently proven incorrect without the researcher being labeled a monster or a mass murderer.

    That the socialist left used her research for its own ends does not make Rachel Carson a monster, especially since they did it after her death when she could no longer clarify her findings for herself.

    • #17
  18. user_240173 Contributor
    user_240173
    @FrankSoto

    Misthiocracy:

    Frank Soto:

    Misthiocracy,

    Those claims that DDT went out of widespread usage because of mosquito resistance instead of paranoid leftist fears are undercut by the fact that DDT continues to be used and is effective today.

    I believe that the point is that the way it is used has changed.

    It was only mass outdoor spraying that was curtailed due to mosquito resistance.

    Today’s usage is much more targeted, which is what I’ve read Carson actually argued for when she was alive.

    “Targeted” is not a magical word that avoids the basic math.   There are X mosquitoes in an area.  Y number of them are resistant to DDT.   No matter how you spray, you must kill Z number of them to reduce malaria rates.   If you kill Z mosquitoes, Y increases in relation X.   Eventually most mosquitoes should be resistant, but they aren’t.  Not even close.  

    DDT was used for mass outdoor spraying for decades and no wide spread mosquito resistance developed.  It would be more accurate to say the fear of resistant mosquitoes curtailed it’s use, as opposed to the actual problem which never materialized.

    • #18
  19. Rawls Inactive
    Rawls
    @Rawls

    Agree with Misthiocracy 100%, and thank him for playing devil’s advocate.

    The section of wikipedia dedicated to mosquitos quickly developing resistances to DDT when it was overused is very interesting.

    “Resistance has greatly reduced DDT’s effectiveness. WHO guidelines require that absence of resistance must be confirmed before using the chemical. Resistance is largely due to agricultural use, in much greater quantities than required for disease prevention. According to one study that attempted to quantify the lives saved by banning agricultural use and thereby slowing the spread of resistance, “it can be estimated that at current rates each kilo of insecticide added to the environment will generate 105 new cases of malaria.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT#Mosquito_resistance

    • #19
  20. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Frank Soto: DDT was used for mass outdoor spraying for decades and no wide spread mosquito resistance developed.  It would be more accurate to say the fear of resistant mosquitoes curtailed it’s use, as opposed to the actual problem which never materialized.

    So, to be clear, you are saying that the following account is factually incorrect:

    “Intradomiciliary residual spraying with DDT [in Sri Lanka] had been withdrawn in the early 1960s because of the low number of cases …

    … In 1968, the programme reverted from consolidation to attack phase, but by that time malaria had already taken root again in all previously endemic areas. DDT residual spraying was again applied on a total coverage basis, accompanied in some areas by mass radical treatment. These measures met with limited success, but the malaria situation deteriorated once more between 1972 and 1975. Apart from operational and administrative shortcomings, the main reason for this second increase was the development of vector resistance to DDT.”

    Source: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2005/02/17/malaria/

    • #20
  21. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Rawls: The section of wikipedia dedicated to mosquitos quickly developing resistances to DDT when it was overused is very interesting.

    A word of warning: Be vigilant about checking up on the references in that Wikipedia article. Some of them are highly partisan, non-academic, non-scientific sources.

    That being said, better sources are pretty easy to find with a quick Google search, and the verifiable facts contained within the partisan sources cannot be dismissed simply because they come from a partisan source.

    The argument I’m making is not that it was correct for the federal government to ban DDT for agricultural use in order to save eagles, falcons, hawks, and other raptors. The scientific data regarding the harm of DDT on raptors was, and is, very spotty.

    My argument is merely that I don’t believe that the claim that Rachel Carson is personally responsible for the resurgence of Malaria bears much scrutiny. The woman was not a monster, and she wasn’t even really much of an activist. It was the people who exploited her memory after her death that deserve the more scorn.

    She wasn’t a saint, but she wasn’t a demon either.

    • #21
  22. user_240173 Contributor
    user_240173
    @FrankSoto

    Misthiocracy:

    Frank Soto: DDT was used for mass outdoor spraying for decades and no wide spread mosquito resistance developed. It would be more accurate to say the fear of resistant mosquitoes curtailed it’s use, as opposed to the actual problem which never materialized.

    So, to be clear, you are saying that the following account is factually incorrect:

    “Intradomiciliary residual spraying with DDT [in Sri Lanka] had been withdrawn in the early 1960s because of the low number of cases …

    … In 1968, the programme reverted from consolidation to attack phase, but by that time malaria had already taken root again in all previously endemic areas. DDT residual spraying was again applied on a total coverage basis, accompanied in some areas by mass radical treatment. These measures met with limited success, but the malaria situation deteriorated once more between 1972 and 1975. Apart from operational and administrative shortcomings, the main reason for this second increase was the development of vector resistance to DDT.”

    Source: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2005/02/17/malaria/

    The conclusion is over broad.  If DDT resistance really comes at almost no cost to Mosquitoes when competing against non-resistant mosquitoes, than DDT wouldn’t still be effective (even if less so in the past), and yet it is.

    • #22
  23. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    While I agree that Carson herself wasn’t such a “terrible” person, nor her research all that “terrible”, it is nonetheless interesting how the Left creates cults of personality which are devoid of the underlying intellectual or logical arguments.

    While we might be trying to have a conversation the merits or shortfalls of the original arguments, the Left isn’t concerned with that. It’s concerned with cults of personalities and emotional messages of “If Carson didn’t take on the evil corporations poisoning our land, there’d be no nature left today!”

    There have been hundreds of scientists that have contributed far more to both the wellbeing of the environment today, and the wellbeing of humanity today. Yet you’ll never see a Google doodle on them. 

    Certainly, not one where they are depicted as hipster-ish scarf-ed caricatures.

    • #23
  24. George Savage Contributor
    George Savage
    @GeorgeSavage

    As a boy growing up in South Florida during the 1960s, I vividly remember DC-3 aircraft thundering over my house at low altitude, dousing the neighborhood with DDT while my sisters and I played in the backyard.  Another technicolor recollection concerns a favorite pastime of ours:  cycling along in the wake of “fog trucks” the public health department sent down our street during the summer.  We mounted our bicycles whenever we heard the distinctive rumble after dinner, each member of my gang of eight-year-olds converging at the rear of the truck, adjusting speed and jockeying for pole position: the spot in the plume where only head and shoulders were visible above the thick, white DDT cloud pouring out the back as the mosquito control truck paraded at its stately pace through the neighborhood.

    According to Rachel Carson, my pals and I–indeed, all of us–should have died long ago.  David Horowitz reports:

    In Silent Spring, Carson stated that the overall rise in U.S. cancer rates between 1940 (the dawn of the DDT era) and 1960 proved that DDT was a carcinogen. She predicted that DDT and other pesticides would spark a cancer epidemic that would wipe out “practically 100 percent” of the human population within a single generation. As Carson saw it, a race of super-insects, immune to the effects of pesticides, would infest the crops grown on American farms. Desperate farmers, she said, would respond to these infestations by using much greater quantities of DDT. In this way, Carson explained, the pesticide would eventually poison the entire food chain, killing off, in sequence, bugs, worms, birds, fish, and finally mankind.

    Read the entire Horowitz piece and you will discover ample evidence that, at the time of its discontinuation, DDT remained a potent anti-malarial agent.  Reports of widespread “resistance” strike me as correct only to the extent that the term refers to political resistance to employment of a potent public health strategy far superior to today’s case-by-case approach to prevention and treatment.

    PR-conscious enviro-leftists like to hide behind weasel-speak of the “DDT was never banned, only restricted” variety–at least now that the body count is undeniable–but the truth is that the 1970s anti-insecticide movement was a successful prototype for today’s Alinsky politics: personalize and demonize the opposition, making it morally unacceptable.  By this light, DDT is not a tool with costs and benefits to be weighed carefully, it is a homicidal poison being pushed by chemical companies and agribusinesses willing to destroy the world for the sake of profit.

    The result: myriad decisions taken to discourage the effective use of a safe insecticide–indeed the abandonment of large-scale “vector control” using any insecticide.   Rachel Carson is surely not personally responsible for each death, but her scare tactics sparked a movement that is.  Had her book not led to the ban on effective use of DDT–and the consequent deaths of millions–she would not be lionized today.

    • #24
  25. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    FWIW yesterday Google completely ignored Memorial Day, until sometime in the middle of the day when they added a tiny little US Flag surmounted with a yellow ribbon about halfway down the page from the search box.

    • #25
  26. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Nick Stuart:

    FWIW yesterday Google completely ignored Memorial Day, until sometime in the middle of the day when they added a tiny little US Flag surmounted with a yellow ribbon about halfway down the page from the search box.

     I like your comment but not because it made me laugh. Or even giggle. 

    • #26
  27. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    George,

    You are writing some great revisionist revisionist history that I enjoy reading.  Too bad our K thru 12 kids won’t get a chance to hear your story.  Common Core isn’t just a disaster as a teaching tool.  It is an ideological iron curtain descending between the generations.

    Ms Gaia, tear down your wall!

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #27
  28. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Someone disable devils advocate mode on Mithios account plz.

    -E

    • #28
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    George Savage: As a boy growing up in South Florida during the 1960s, I vividly remember DC-3 aircraft thundering over my house at low altitude, dousing the neighborhood with DDT while my sisters and I played in the backyard. Another technicolor recollection concerns a favorite pastime of ours: cycling along in the wake of “fog trucks” the public health department sent down our street during the summer. We mounted our bicycles whenever we heard the distinctive rumble after dinner, each member of my gang of eight-year-olds converging at the rear of the truck, adjusting speed and jockeying for pole position: the spot in the plume where only head and shoulders were visible above the thick, white DDT cloud pouring out the back as the mosquito control truck paraded at its stately pace through the neighborhood.

    I was in Northern Illinois.  We didn’t have the DC-3’s, but we did have the fog trucks.  “I’m not dead yet!”

    • #29
  30. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    MLH:

    Nick Stuart:

    FWIW yesterday Google completely ignored Memorial Day, until sometime in the middle of the day when they added a tiny little US Flag surmounted with a yellow ribbon about halfway down the page from the search box.

    I like your comment but not because it made me laugh. Or even giggle.

     Yes.

    FWIW, I have never trusted Google since they started swanning about with their “Don’t Be Evil” motto ’round about the time they helped build the Great Fire Wall of China.  I recall they acknowledge that the PRC was repressive and actively anti-human rights, but that somebody was going to build it, so why not them.  Eric Schmidt, I know you and you are scum.

    • #30
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