DDT and Malaria
Readers of Access to Energy have repeatedly, over the past decade, been reminded of a terrible and tragic circumstance:
Somewhere on the Earth, on average every 12 seconds, a child dies of DDT-preventable malaria. The United States National Academy of Sciences estimated that DDT saved 500 million lives before it was banned. The discoverer of DDT was awarded the Nobel Prize.
Then came Silent Spring — a book filled with deliberate falsehoods and blatantly marketed unreasoning and unjustified fear. The burgeoning enviro movement chose these lies for one of their first big campaigns. This campaign coincided with the rise of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA was in search of a big win with which to promote itself. The EPA studied the subject and its own scientific review board reported that - DDT is harmless to the environment and is a very beneficial substance that should not be banned.
Politics prevailed, however, over reason. DDT was banned, and the U.S. government spread that ban throughout the world by tying it to all sorts of international programs.
The result: Malaria, which was well on the way to control and eradication, now afflicts 250 million adults and kills about 3 million children per year. The deaths of children alone make this the most heinous act of technological genocide the world has ever known. It is the second-most extensive overall act of genocide — surpassed only by the reigns of terror under Communism in Red China.
Many enviros have spoken of this openly as a "population control measure." The Wall Street Journal has been more blunt, with its references to white males deciding to kill black, brown, and yellow babies.
Yet, the killing goes on — and on — and on.
We are delighted to see, therefore, a resurgence of interest in this subject among conservative political organizations. See, for example, CEI On Point, February 23.2001, published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, 1001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 1250, Washington, DC 20036, and "DDT and Malaria" by Dr. Jane Orient, Environment and Climate News, April 2001, p 11, available from 19 South LaSalle Street, Suite 903, Chicago, IL 60603.
Figure 2, reproduced from the CEI article, shows statistics for five countries in Latin America. With DDT, malaria was under control and decreasing. As DDT was phased out, malaria has risen inexorably. Under Algore and Clinton, the reversal of this tumble genocide was impossible. I am convinced that, if President Bush understood the facts, it would end immediately.
While the EPA is riddled with the worst politicos in our country, and the new director certainly does not inspire confidence, it is clear that, for the first time in many years, these forgotten children of the Third World may have a chance. President Bush has already overruled his EPA director once (on global warming).
The enviro propaganda effort against DDT has been so vicious that, if the DDT ban were reversed, the entire enviro movement would be in danger of collapse. Reversal is difficult because DDT has been so completely demonized. There is, however, now a chance.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, the book that spearheaded the demonization of DDT, was dedicated to Albeit Schweitzer, whom Carson quoted as saying "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the Earth." This was falsely presented to Carson's readers as Albert Scweitzer's concern about DDT.
The first research paper I ever wrote, reporting work done as an undergraduate at Caltech, was Robinson, A. B., Manly, K. F., Anthony, M. P., Catchpool, J. F., and Pauling, L. (1965) Science 149, pp 1255-1258. Before coming to Caltech, Frank Catchpool had been chief physician for Albeit Schweitzer in his famous hospital at Lambarene.
Frank told me that practicing medicine there was unusual in that virtually everyone, including the nurses, had malaria. The nurses could not work during severe malarial episodes. Diagnosing patients was more difficult because the physician had to detect the symptoms of other diseases - usually in the presence of the symptoms of malaria.
The quotation in Silent Spring, however, was about Schweitzer's fear of nuclear weapons. Of malaria, Schweitzer actually said, "How much labor and waste of time these wicked insects do cause us.. . . but a ray of hope, in the use of DDT, is now held out to us."
For the past generation, since the destruction of that hope by the EPA, the scourge of malaria has killed over 50 million children and kept about 250 million adults in bondage to disease.
Our new President has many concerns and distractions. Unlike his predecessor, however, he is a decent and well-meaning human being.
If this resurgence of interest in DDT among conservative political organizations should grow and spread, perhaps the truth will reach the President with enough force to cause him to understand this issue — and once again overrule the EPA. Another child's life — every 12 seconds —depends upon it.
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