Long Overdue

The WHO just lifted a ban on DDT.That's good news, but not for the countless millions who died from typhus or malaria over the last 30 years in the Third World.

Overlooked in all the hoopla over the announcement, however, is the terrible toll in human lives (tens of millions dead — mostly pregnant women and children under the age of 5), illness (billions sickened) and poverty (more than $1 trillion dollars in lost GDP in sub-Saharan Africa alone) caused by the tragic, decades-long ban.
Much of this human catastrophe was preventable, so why did it happen? Who is responsible? Should the individuals and activist groups who caused the DDT ban be held accountable in some way?
Rachel Carson kicked-off DDT hysteria with her pseudo-scientific 1962 book, “Silent Spring.” Carson materially misrepresented DDT science in order to advance her anti-pesticide agenda. Today she is hailed as having launched the global environmental movement. A Pennsylvania state office building, Maryland elementary school, Pittsburgh bridge and a Maryland state park are named for her. The Smithsonian Institution commemorates her work against DDT. She was even honored with a 1981 U.S. postage stamp. Next year will be the 100th anniversary of her birth. Many celebrations are being planned.
It’s quite a tribute for someone who was so dead wrong. At the very least, her name should be removed from public property and there should be no government-sponsored honors of Carson.

Ugandan newspaper New Vision had this to say about the ban (Aug. 6, 2006):

Thanks to Carson’s book, after the US ban on DDT there is a global malaria burden of 300-500 cases and 1.5-2.5 million deaths annually, mostly among young children. What is most tragic in our context is that the disease kills an African child every 30 seconds (Roberts, D. R. et al – “DDT, Global Strategies and a Malaria Control Crisis in South America, 1997).

Steve Milloy asks an excellent question: how will the organizations responsible be held liable? This would be the biggest class action suit in history.

Business are often held liable and forced to pay monetary damages for defective products and false statements. Why shouldn’t the National Audubon Society, Environmental Defense, Sierra Club and other anti-DDT activist groups be held liable for the harm caused by their recklessly defective activism?

Here's a research assignment for science majors:Environmentalists and peace activists are intertwined, so how many deaths were a result of the environmentalist DDT ban, versus the number of deaths as a result of war in any given decade from 1972 to the present.

Posted by Mutti at September 22, 2006 01:09 PM | TrackBack