Tuesday, March 15, 2016

100 Million Deaths, DDT, Malaria, Value of Life

Rachel Carson's Deadly Fantasies - Forbes:

Readers of this blog know that I believe ALL lives matter, and that I am intrigued, dismayed, perplexed and frustrated by the WIDE variation in how much given lives in fact do matter! To that end, I've come back to the issue of DDT and Malaria.

To make the longer story REALLY short, DDT came online at just the right point in history -- right as WWII was getting underway, and from 1943 - 1960, it saved on the order of HALF A BILLION ... yes, you heard that right, 500,000,000 lives!!!  If you have time to read just the very early part of this article, it is WELL worth your time!

Then, along came "Silent Spring" -- a FICTIONAL work, that was supposedly based on science, but was not, that is credited with founding the environmental movement. The results of the world wide emotional backlash against DDT were immediately catastrophic, and if you must see the "punchline", at least 100 MILLION dead, making Carlson in the ranks of the greatest mass murderers in history:

In Ceylon, for example, where, as noted, DDT use had cut malaria cases from millions per year in the 1940s down to just 17 by 1963, its banning in 1964 led to a resurgence of half a million victims per year by 1969.[18] In many other countries, the effects were even worse.
By 1970, the National Academy of Sciences was worried, they tried to head off the rush to disaster with this:
To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. It has contributed to the great increase in agricultural productivity, while sparing countless humanity from a host of diseases, most notably, perhaps, scrub typhus and malaria. Indeed, it is estimated that, in little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million deaths due to malaria that would otherwise have been inevitable. Abandonment of this valuable insecticide should be undertaken only at such time and in such places as it is evident that the prospective gain to humanity exceeds the consequent losses. At this writing, all available substitutes for DDT are both more expensive per crop-year and decidedly more hazardous.[19]
But it was banned in the US anyway, and many other places to follow.
And even for those that did not, the halting of American DDT exports (since U.S. producers slowed and then stopped manufacturing it) made DDT much more expensive, and thus effectively unavailable for poor countries in desperate need of the substance.[25] As a result, insect-borne diseases returned to the tropics with a vengeance. By some estimates, the death toll in Africa alone from unnecessary malaria resulting from the restrictions on DDT has exceeded 100 million people.[26]
I did more reading this PM on DDT than I really wanted to ... the guy that wrote this article used to eat a teaspoon of it before his speeches! He died of a heart attack at age 84.

I could ramble on -- in general, danger to humans, very close to nil. Danger to birds, nothing if used in ANY sort of sensible way -- the issue of eggshells / eagles is from having it virtually POURED on fields for no good reason other than it was "cheap and effective so more must be better".

Back to the important point, LIFE!

No images of lilu in her outfit today guys! ;-(

So a woman writes a fictional story about birds being killed at just the right time so a bunch of lefties go off the deep end about a pesticide that has saved HALF A BILLION lives, and it is banned!  We finally start getting back to use it FIFTY YEARS  after it's banning has killed well over 100 MILLION !!!

I understand that most of the lives saved and lost were black, and I certainly understand that from the point of view of the left-liberal-progressives in this country, black lives are "pawns". They are CRITICAL as a voting block today, but as 6K young black men die in the streets here by shooting each year, those lives matter as much as the lives of babes in their mothers wombs. Abortion falls especially hard on the black, which was the intention of Margret Sanger and the eugenicists.

The gay guys that died from AIDs mattered HUGELY, although far, FAR less than a common street thug that attacked a police officer in Ferguson. His life approached the worth of an assassinated US president if one considers the amount of media time spent on it.

OTOH, many many thousands of deaths of poorly educated white people in an epidemic of suicide and substance abuse are worth even less than those of the young urban black men shooting each other!

My answer is that we have abandoned any sense of proportion, reason and morality and are being completely driven by a politically controlled media, government and educational monolith under single party (D) control that is 100% directed to gaining and locking in POWER.

I'd like to hear alternative answers.

'via Blog this'


  1. National Academy of Sciences goofed with the 500 million saved story, as you can figure if you take the estimated 5 million annual malaria deaths, assume all were saved (they weren't), and multiply by the number of years from 1945 to 1970.

    More important, your source failed to inform you that the National Academy of Sciences, WITH that error, concluded that DDT was much more dangerous than beneficial and should be eliminated from use -- in that book.

    Explanation and links to NAS documents, here:


    In reality, WHO was forced to end its malaria eradication program in 1963, when DDT abuse on farms and cities bred DDT-resistant and immune mosquitoes in central Africa. In 1963, more than 3 million people died each year from malaria.

    In an effort to save wildlife, domestic animals and the utility of DDT, EPA banned use of DDT on U.S. farms, in 1972. That order allowed U.S. manufacturing of DDT to continue, for export to fight malaria (manufacturing continued in the U.S. through at least 1984).

    By that time, without WHO's DDT-based eradication campaign, malaria deaths had fallen to more than 2.5 million per year.

    From 1972 to 1988, malaria deaths continued to fall each year, due to other prevention programs and improving medical care. In the late 1980s the malaria parasites themselves developed resistance to the drugs used to cure humans of the parasites. Annual malaria deaths stopped declining by 1990, at about 1.25 million deaths per year, and rose to about. 1.5 million deaths by 1999. In that year WHO, encouraged by well-funded NGOs like the Gates Foundation, undertook again a worldwide attack on malaria, based on bednets, physical barriers to the night-time biting malaria carriers.

    In 2015 annual malaria deaths dropped below 500,000, the lowest level in human history.

    Your source assumes that malaria deaths rose when DDT was discontinued, but that's the opposite of what happened. At peak DDT use, 1958-1963, deaths ranged from 3.5 million to 5 million. Without DDT, deaths dropped so that, from 1972 to the present, more than 100 million lives were SAVED from malaria, over the peak DDT years death rates.

    That is not to say that DDT caused malaria, but it is to observe there was no cause-effect link to suggest that ending DDT use cost anyone's life.

    In point of fact, DDT was available in Africa and Asia in great quantities from 1970 to 2000. There was a surplus of DDT. But, why would any nation use it, if it didn't work?

    It's good to worry about far too many people dying from malaria. It's wrong to blame it on the scientists and health care workers who labored to save many more, and it's bizarre to inflate the death figures and blame deaths on Rachel Carson.

    Gordon Edwards was, once, a great entomologist. In his later years he rather went off the rails on DDT and conservationists. If you're relying on his work, it's mostly hoax.

    Get the facts, maybe send $10 to Nothing But Nets, and save some lives. Nothing is gained by falsely blaming environmentalists for a disaster they worked to avert.

  2. I deal with very few comments on the blog, but I try to deal with them "openly" -- if they are civil and the one on the way is.

    If I wasn't so busy right now I would have posted it and then gotten into the "learning / rebuttal business". As it is, I'm pretty busy, so I'm "pre-commenting" and will get back to it later.

    My objections with comment at this point are:

    1) The admission is made that the NAS **DID** provide the number, but the assertion is made that they "goofed" and to verify that we are asked to go look through a bunch of documents. Please point me to an NAS retraction, don't tell me to trust you or go read a bunch of documents that are not a retraction.

    2) WHO went back to DDT in 2006 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2006/pr50/en/, yet the comment makes the claim that it was "proven ineffective and dangerous" back in the '60s.

    So is WHO wrong? Since they DID go back to using it, that seems to strongly muddy the water on the 2015 number being so good, since that number is nearly a decade after they went back to using DDT.

    The 50 - 100 million deaths is quoted a lot of different places -- something in the 1.5 - 2.5 million a year for 40 years. A million here and a million there -- we get fairly excited over a "mere" 6 M on Hitler's hands for some reason. Tens of millions seems worthy of some note even if it doesn't make 100!