Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Telling, I think, that none of these "green whackos," or their sympathizers have bothered to defend the banning of DDT.
Must be because they cannot.
Why so smug? You've done nothing more than repeat a couple anti-environmentalist bullet points, toss in a couple of ad hominems about environmentalists and make nonsensical claims about the case for DDT that come right out of pop culture, not science. You haven't made much of an argument for
DDT, so it's something that even a casual observer such as myself, who doesn't care much about the environment, can easily refute. I don't care much one way or another about DDT, and actually support its use in limited scenarios for vector management but so do environmentalists, and your claims that millions die due to this "ban" are simplistic and wrong headed. They show a superficial knowledge of how both DDT and malaria eradication work as well as the alternative solutions available.
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
As a result, multiple millions have died since the publishing The Silent Spring.
99% of statistics are made up on the spot. I've investigated several such claims about the many deaths attributable to this book and found each quite seriously lacking. And before you do your "eco-warrior" ad hominem bit note that I'm really not much of an environmentalist and that isn't going to work, I've just never been very green myself but did a fair amount of toxicology research when trying to figure out how to combat mosquitoes without harming my dog, cat and fish. Most of them that I've run across were just knee-jerk anti-environmentalism without much in way to substantiate them. The few that weren't failed to make a compelling case that restrictions on DDT use is responsible for the deaths ultimately attributed to it.
So instead of resorting to the knee-jerk anti-environmentalism and the false dilemma you constructed of man versus animal let's actually break down the argument and skip the rhetoric. Let's start with the claims made about The Silent Spring itself, as they seem to be largely fueled by superficial knowledge.
First of all, Rachel Carson did not argue for a ban on DDT in The Silent Spring, and explicitly addressed the use of it as vector control:
Rachel Carson wrote:
No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored. The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse. The world has heard much of the triumphant war against disease through the control of insect vectors of infection, but it has heard little of the other side of the story"the defeats, the short-lived triumphs that now strongly support the alarming view that the insect enemy has been made actually stronger by our efforts. Even worse, we may have destroyed our very means of fighting. ... What is the measure of this setback? The list of resistant species now includes practically all of the insect groups of medical importance. ... Malaria programmes are threatened by resistance among mosquitoes. ... Practical advice should be 'Spray as little as you possibly can' rather than 'Spray to the limit of your capacity' ..., Pressure on the pest population should always be as slight as possible.
The indiscriminate use of DDT contributed toward pesticide resistance in mosquitoes and it was toxic to more than just the pests it was targeting. The advice in the book is against the indiscriminate use of DDT that was the previous norm. And despite the criticism of Carson on the right you really won't find many sane people advocating a return to those levels of DDT use at all.
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
How many Eco-Warriors praise and defend the mosquito when their child dies of skeeter borne diseases?
I think this is a false choice. There is a wealth of alternatives to indiscriminate use of DDT. There have been countries (namely Vietnam) that switched from DDT regimes to non DDT regimes and found much greater success in fighting malaria. And lost amid all this mindless environmentalist bashing is that DDT use for fighting malaria is NOT banned, and that in the Stockholm Convention use to fight disease vectors is exempted from DDT restrictions and that it was done with the blessing of the environmental groups that oppose indiscriminate DDT use. The environmentalists you blindly criticize recognize better than do you the specific advantages of DDT use in fighting malaria. Namely its time-buying during an epidemic by breaking the transmission cycle, DDT is a great quick fix but it's not a great long term solution due to the resistance mosquitoes build against it.
Pesticide Action Network wrote:
We fully support the Stockholm approach to DDT because we understand that DDT can be effective under certain circumstances, but also because the convention stipulates that use of DDT must be accompanied by efforts to develop alternative approaches. That's the point that is so often lost in these discussions: the Stockholm Convention is meant specifically to mobilize funds and attention to develop capacities such that DDT will no longer be needed.
The bottom line is that you guys who attribute all these deaths to the DDT ban ignore that even with indiscriminate DDT logistics and DDT resistance just don't make this a simple magic bullet against malaria. In a large contiguous place like Africa it would require a sychronized campaign whose logistics just might not be feasable. For this reason the experts recommend Integrated Vector Management, which is a combination of solutions that can involve indoor residual spraying with pesticides that can, but don't need to, include DDT.
Malaria has been successfully fought without DDT (for example, its use in the US began when the eradication of malaria was nearly complete anyway), blaming Carson for malaria deaths is tantamount to blaming her for the antipathy towards malaria, which is the primary reason resources have not been brought to bear to fight mosquitos, not because of DDT restrictions. Eradicating malaria isn't going to be done with a simple solution. It requires a concerted effort that pervasively changes lifestyles. Entomologist Andrew Spielman said that if he had one item to provide to villages with malaria epidemics it would be a cement mixer, in order to make drainage canals.
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
If I come down with some heinous long term exposure disease in the cancer family, it will be far more likely that it is due to a hundred other foreign substances I have (willingly or otherwise) ingested than the DDT sprayed on my neighborhood street.
Thank you doctor Finn, but carcinogenicity isn't at all the only health concern with DDT. That you aren't concerned with its effect on your own health is just not much in way of evidence that DDT is harmless to humans.
So other than Carson being a convenient lightning rod for folks who don't like environmentalism (I get this sentiment, it's often fueled by an appeal to emotions instead of hard science) what exactly is this love affair with DDT? Is it the notion that it is the most cost-effective solution? That is of dubious veracity . Is it because you see no viable alternatives? If so, pyrethroids have not been shown to develop pesticide resistance in mosquitoes as far as I am aware, and also have not been shown to be as toxic to other non-pests in the environment as DDT (it is still toxic for fish, however).
What is this motivated by other than ignorance and politics? What do you have against the current consensus among scientists on vector management and DDT? Do you even know what it is? It doesn't seem so, because it allows for use of DDT, but acknowledges that vector management can't be fought by DDT alone and that DDT use carries downsides. You seem to only have the TV version of this science in a couple of anti-environmentalist soundbites. Where is your science?
 Comparison of the cost and cost-effectiveness of insecticide-treated bednets and residual house-spraying in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa - C. A. Goodman , A. E. P. Mnzava , S. S. Dlamini , B. L. Sharp , D. J. Mthembu & J. K. Gumede