Is there any idiot theory UD won’t credulously repeat?

Now it’s the “Rachel Carson killed millions” nonsense over at Uncommon Descent and it’s based upon this WSJ editorial from Dr. Zaramba, the health minister for Uganda.

What’s really embarrassing is how they link the entire article and it’s clear they didn’t even read it.

BarryA writes:

When I got home I did some research and was horrified to learn that the malaria epidemic in Africa is perhaps the most preventable health care tragedy in the history of the world. We could eradicate African malaria if only we would allow them to use DDT to combat the mosquitos that spread the disease. I also learned that everything I thought I knew about DDT was flat wrong. Not only is DDT safe, scientists have known this for decades.

It turns out the DDT ban was based on a combination of junk science and moral preening by the environmental movement. It as if greenies said, “What are a few million African lives so long as we affluent Westerners can feel good about having ‘done something’ even if that something means nothing?”

As it turns out, the western environmental movement’s push for polices that will kill millions of Africans is far from over. The drive to force LDC’s (lesser developed countries) to reduce their CO2 emissions will delay the electrification of the continent by decades, and millions will die as a result of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases caused by smoke inhalation from indoor wood fires — a very real cost for environmental gains that are, to say the least, speculative.

It’s the environmentalists will eat your babies attack! But the amazing thing is that in the article itself it is apparent that the DDT ban myth is just that – a myth.

The United States and Europe eradicated malaria by 1960, largely with the use of DDT. At the time, Uganda tested the pesticide in the Kanungu district and reduced malaria by 98%. Despite this success, we lacked the resources to sustain the program. Rather than partner with us to improve our public health infrastructure, however, foreign donors blanched. They used Africa’s lack of infrastructure to justify not investing in it.

Today, every single Ugandan still remains at risk. Over 10 million Ugandans are infected each year, and up to 100,000 of our mothers and children die from the disease. Recently Ugandan country music star Job Paul Kafeero died of the disease, a reminder that no one is beyond its reach. Yet, many still argue that Africa’s poor infrastructure makes indoor spraying too costly and complex a means of fighting malaria.

Uganda is one of a growing number of African countries proving these people wrong. In 2006, Uganda worked with President George Bush’s Malaria Initiative to train 350 spray operators, supervisors and health officials. In August 2006 and again in February 2007, we covered 100,000 households in the southern Kabale district with the insecticide Icon. Nearly everyone welcomed this protection. The prevalence of the malaria parasite dropped. Today, just 3% of the local population carries the disease, down from 30%.

But DDT lasts longer, costs less and is more effective against malaria-carrying mosquitoes than Icon. It functions as spatial repellent to keep mosquitoes out of homes, as an irritant to prevent them from biting, and as a toxic agent to kill those that land. The repellency effect works without physical contact. And because we will never use the chemical in agriculture, DDT also makes mosquitoes less likely to develop resistance.

The U.S. banned DDT in 1972, spurred on by environmentalist Rachel Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring.” Many countries in Europe and around the world followed suit. But after decades of exhaustive scientific review, DDT has been shown to not only be safe for humans and the environment, but also the single most effective anti-malarial agent ever invented. Nothing else at any price does everything it can do. That is why the World Health Organization (WHO) has once again recommended using DDT wherever possible against malaria, alongside insecticidal nets and effective drugs.

We are trying to do precisely this. In addition to distributing nearly three million long-lasting insecticidal nets and 25 million doses of effective anti-malarial drugs, we will expand our indoor spraying operations to four more districts this year, where we will protect tens of thousands of Ugandans from malaria’s deadly scourge. We are committed to storing, transporting and using DDT properly in these programs, in accord with Stockholm Convention, WHO, European Union and U.S. Agency for International Development guidelines. We are working with these organizations and to ensure support from our communities, and to ensure that our agricultural trade is not jeopardized.

Although Uganda’s National Environmental Management Authority has approved DDT for malaria control, Western environmentalists continue to undermine our efforts and discourage G-8 governments from supporting us. The EU has acknowledged our right to use DDT, but some consumer and agricultural groups repeat myths and lies about the chemical. They should instead help us use it strictly to control malaria.

DDT was banned in the United States – not worldwide. It has been more broadly banned for agricultural use – widespread spraying of DDT actually increases resistance of the Anopheles mosquitos to DDT – a fact that Zaramba acknowledges. It is clear from the article that Uganda continues to use DDT and other pesticides for malaria control – they just object to new efforts to limit use of the chemical and the failure of G8 governments from supporting their malarial eradication efforts. It would be wrong to ban DDT for malarial control – and if consumer or environmental groups are doing this it is a very short-sighted kind of advocacy. But it’s also wrong to say that DDT has been banned for use for control of malaria or that Rachel Carson is somehow responsible for millions of deaths. If you read Dr. Zaramba’s article it’s clear what is really responsible – the unwillingness of Western countries to help.

However, for an Uncommon Descent commentator this becomes, “DDT was banned worldwide”, and “environmentalists kill babies”. Does anyone else notice a reading comprehension problem here?

Anyway, I recommend those that want to know more read Bug Girl’s take on DDT, malaria, and the junk science behind the DDT ban myth also her update.


Comments

7 responses to “Is there any idiot theory UD won’t credulously repeat?”

  1. Tim Lambert has some stuff on this as well at Deltoid. While a WSJ editorial has no credibility, John Tierney’s article in NYTimes is a lot more annoying. (There’s also discussion at his blog, TierneyLab)

  2. I read the WSJ op-ed carefully. I found it interesting that Dr. Zaramba acknowledged that DDT resistance is a problem, proposed the use of DDT for bed nets and indoor residual spraying, and stressed that Uganda would not use DDT for agricultural purposes — all positions that Rachel Carson would have supported — then goes on to say that “[e]nvironmental leaders must … acknowledge the mistakes Carson made …” I am curious as to just what mistakes he thinks those might be. That’s not a rhetorical question, and I’ll make it more general: does anyone know of any significant errors of fact in Silent Spring?

  3. Red-hot Christian creationists have weighed in with their attacks on Rachel Carson, so why shouldn’t lukewarm IDists trail along in their wake? They’re really birds of a feather, although the latter lack the courage of their secret convictions.

    Examples of misleading statements from rightist Christians on Rachel Carson are posted here, along with some commentary by me. The attacks were all in the context of climate change denialism, so it’s a heaping helping of shrieking la-la-la while jamming their fingers in their ears.

  4. Anti Scumbag

    Doctors kill 90,000 a year thru negligence.

    Solve that problem, scumbag.
    depp=true
    notiz=[disemvowelled for abuse/drive-by trolling]

  5. During the 1970s and 1980s, the developed world condemned and banned or severely restricted not only DDT, but also PCBs, and the pesticides Hexachlorobenzene, toxaphene, chlordane, hexachlorocyclohexane, Dieldrin, Endrin, Aldrin, Heptachlor and Mirex. All of these chemicals are rather persistent in the environment, toxic and bioaccumulate.

    The Green Revolution, the exportation of western agricultural technology to the east, saved hundreds of millions from certain starvation in the 1960s. Countries that were on the brink of starvation now feed their expanded populations on less tilled land with capacity remaining to export billions of pounds per year. Aren�t those chemicals wonderful?

    Unfortunately, scientists have now found that this small suite of chemicals has another unique set of physical chemical properties. They evaporate from their use points, move with the earth�s weather patterns and, from the Northern Hemisphere, migrate toward the Arctic. The most volatile of them are found at 40X the concentration in the Arctic Ocean as in the oceans near their uses.

    The Stockholm Agreement of 2001 has done nothing to reduce the use of these chemicals and pesticides from their tens of thousands of tons per year usage. The air we breathe contains more than a hundred million molecules of foreign made pesticides and PCBs per breath full. Toxaphene concentrations in Lake Superior, the world�s largest body of fresh water � it would cover the continental United States to a depth of six feet � went up 50% after toxaphene was �banned� in 1982. Its concentration remains constant from the mantle of toxaphene laden air passing over it. Its trout have ten times the concentration that would classify as hazardous waste.

    In the Arctic, Inuit, killer whales, falcons, and polar bears suffer from being at the top of the aquatic food chain. Inuit women of child bearing age, the group consuming the smallest amount of sea mammals, ingest 15X a tolerable daily intake of synthetic organic chemicals, the worst being chlordane, toxaphene and PCBs in that order. The Inuit suffer infertility, still births, birth defects, and immune system degradation. For these chemicals, the ecosystem is the hemisphere and our northern waters are most vulnerable.

    If the above is insufficient cause for concern, see http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/pops.shtml , a review of my book Cold, Clear, and Deadly recently published by Michigan State University Press, for more information.

  6. Sizlac

    When I got home I did some research…[tedious stupidity omitted]

    Well, There’s your problem. Go to the damn library.

  7. slydini

    LOL@UD. DaveScot is the smartest guy there, that’s how bad it is.