Today would be her 100th, and it presents us an opportunity to do two things. First, we salute a major influence in the birth of environmentalism in the United States and the world. Second, we want to use the opportunity to defend Carson from the specious attacks on her by the purveyors of the DDT ban myth.
Here’s the story. Carson wrote a seminal book on the environment called “Silent Spring” about the damage agricultural use of DDT was having on wildlife – especially birds. As a result DDT was widely banned for agricultural use. But beyond the harm to wildlife, the other reason to ban DDT for agricultural use is that the indiscriminant use of the pesticide would lead to resistance of malaria to the chemical.
Sadly this came true, and as resistance became widespread more expensive pesticides, like malation, had to be used.
DDT has never been banned worldwide, and it is still used for public health reasons to prevent malaria.
This has not stopped anti-environmental cranks like CEI and others from suggesting that Carson is responsible for the deaths of millions from her lobbying against DDT.
This is what I refer to as the “environmentalists will eat your baby” attack. The suggestion that environmentalists care more about wildlife and pretty scenery than humans. You see, it’s been critical for them to attack an icon of environmentalism like Carson, because to hold an influential environmentalist like Carson up as a hero might let people think that environmentalism is a good thing. Environmentalists must therefore all be painted as extremists who want to exterminate mankind so that the earth can survive.
It’s a travesty that somebody who has done as much good for the world as Rachel Carlson has had her reputation twisted and maligned for this purpose. But that is the nature of the denialist. Honest, decency, and integrity must come second to the advancement of an ideological agenda.