DDT could help prevent malaria among tsunami survivors, but environmental ideology forbids its use.
Unfortunately, survivors of December's tsunami are not yet safe from harm; they now face the threat of deadly diseases such as cholera and dysentery. But, as heavy rains create breeding conditions for disease-carrying mosquitoes, there is one threat they should not have to face: malaria.
Though nearly eradicated decades ago, malaria has resurged with a vengeance and kills over a million people each year. But its horrific death toll is largely preventable. The most effective agent of mosquito control, the pesticide DDT, has been essentially discarded--discarded based not on scientific concerns about its safety, but on environmental dogma.
The environmental crusade against DDT began with Rachel Carson's antipesticide diatribe "Silent Spring," published in 1962 at the height of the worldwide antimalaria campaign. The widespread spraying of DDT had caused a spectacular drop in malaria incidence--Sri Lanka, for example, reported 2.8 million malaria victims in 1948, but by 1963 it had only 17. Yet Carson's book made no mention of this. It said nothing of DDT's crucial role in eradicating malaria in industrialized countries, or of the tens of millions of lives saved by its use.
Instead, Carson filled her book with misinformation--alleging, among other claims, that DDT causes cancer. Her unsubstantiated assertion that continued DDT use would unleash a cancer epidemic generated a panicked fear of the pesticide that endures as public opinion to this day.
But the scientific case against DDT was, and still is, nonexistent. Almost 60 years have passed since the malaria-spraying campaigns began--with hundreds of millions of people exposed to large concentrations of DDT--yet, according to international health scholar Amir Attaran, the scientific literature "has not even one peer reviewed, independently replicated study linking exposure to DDT with any adverse health outcome." Indeed, in one study human volunteers ate DDT every day for over two years with no ill effects.
Abundant scientific evidence supporting the safety and importance of DDT was presented during seven months of testimony before the newly formed EPA in 1971. The presiding judge ruled unequivocally against a ban. But the public furor against DDT--fueled by "Silent Spring" and the growing environmental movement--was so great that a ban was imposed anyway. The EPA administrator, who hadn't even bothered to attend the hearings, overruled his own judge and imposed the ban in defiance of the facts and evidence. And the 1972 ban in the United States led to an effective worldwide ban, as countries dependent on U.S.-funded aid agencies curtailed their DDT use to comply with those agencies' demands.
So if scientific facts are not what has driven the furor against DDT, what has? Estimates put today's malaria incidence worldwide at around 300 million cases, with a million deaths every year. If this enormous toll of human suffering and death is preventable, why do environmentalists--who profess to be the defenders of life--continue to press for a global DDT ban?
The answer is that environmental ideology values an untouched environment above human life. The root of the opposition to DDT is not science, but the environmentalist moral premise that it is wrong for man to "tamper" with nature.
The large-scale eradication of disease-carrying insects epitomizes the control of nature by man. This is DDT's sin. To Carson and the environmentalists she inspired, "the 'control of nature' is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy." Nature, they hold, is intrinsically valuable and must be kept free from human interference.
On this environmentalist premise the proper attitude to nature is not to seek to improve it for human benefit, but to show "humility" before its "vast forces" and leave it alone. We should seek, Carson wrote, not to eliminate malarial mosquitoes with pesticides, but to find instead "a reasonable accommodation between the insect hordes and ourselves." If the untouched, "natural" state is one in which millions contract deadly diseases, so be it.
Carson's current heirs agree. Earth First! founder Dave Foreman writes: "Ours is an ecological perspective that views Earth as a community and recognizes such apparent enemies as 'disease' (e.g., malaria) and 'pests' (e.g., mosquitoes) not as manifestations of evil to be overcome but rather as vital and necessary components of a complex and vibrant biosphere."
Ask the tsunami survivors if malaria is only an apparent enemy.
In the few minutes it has taken you to read this article, over a thousand people have contracted malaria and half a dozen have died. This is the life-or-death consequence of viewing pestilent insects as a "necessary" component of a "vibrant biosphere" and seeking a "reasonable accommodation" with them.
To stop this global health catastrophe, the ban on DDT must be rescinded. But even more important is to reject the environmental ideology on which the ban is based.
Okay, so there are no studies linking it to negative health effects. I'll take your word on that, I have no idea either way. Are there any that show that it doesn't? If not then it seems pretty clear what should be done. Someone needs to do a test to determine the effects of DDT upon human health.
theantibuddha wrote:That sounds a little extreme.Someone needs to do a test to determine the effects of DDT upon human health.
I'm surprised to hear the lack of studies linking DDT to human health issues.
roger wrote:theantibuddha wrote:That sounds a little extreme.Someone needs to do a test to determine the effects of DDT upon human health.
Seriously, the stuff is a poison. That is it's specific purpose, it's what it was designed for. I'm not saying we should test everything, but if we build something to be used as a poison on another creature we should be pretty damn certain it won't hurt us too.
roger wrote:I'm surprised to hear the lack of studies linking DDT to human health issues.
As am I. I'm giving gungasnake the benefit of the doubt here. Though the government does usually err on the side of caution. If you ban something that may be dangerous until it's proven safe you're likely to get less harm done than if you don't ban it until it's proven dangerous.
Either way it's an important issue, the many deaths from malaria versus the potential damage an (allegedly) unstudied toxin could cause. Yet instead of this wavering about in uncertainty how about simply determining once and for all with a scientific enquiry into the issue.
The real dirty little secret is that insects, because they breed so quickly, soon develop resistance to the cholinesterase interference
Everyone should re read "The silent spring"
So, the stuff that junkscience, com spews, comes out of an understanding that is often ill informed, sometimes anti-evolution, and usually wrong.
Anyone who would swallow anything on that obviously amateur site should get some DDT and bathe in it.