The Spectacle Blog

Earth Day vs. Human Life

Tracy Mehan notes in proper fashion on the main page today how we ought to celebrate human accomplishment this Earth Day with regard to things like species protection, clean water, and feeding the world's population.

By on 4.22.10 | 8:53AM

Tracy Mehan notes in proper fashion on the main page today how we ought to celebrate human accomplishment this Earth Day with regard to things like species protection, clean water, and feeding the world's population. But an op-ed in USA Today by Richard Tren and Donald Roberts, co-authors of The Excellent Powder: DDT's Political and Scientific History, provides necessary focus on where environmentalism has drifted into excess:

Back in the 1940s, scientists realized that the chemical dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, could stop epidemics of insect-borne diseases such as typhus. Its lifesaving potential was considered such a boon to mankind that the scientist who discovered it, Paul Mueller, won the Nobel Prize. The chemical would soon surpass all expectations in controlling malaria around the world and go on to save millions of lives.

It was so effective that it eradicated the disease entirely in Europe, the U.S. and some island nations such as Taiwan. In the West, Malaria was defeated as an endemic disease more than 50 years ago. Now, though, it's a re-emergent disease of the poor, ravaging populations in South America, Asia and across sub-Saharan Africa. Spread by mosquitoes, malaria kills almost 1 million people a year and inflicts suffering on hundreds of millions more. But it didn't have to be this way.

Early environmentalists made pesticides one of their chief bugaboos. Rachel Carson, who helped launch the modern environmental movement, was among them....

Carson was no doubt well-intentioned, but it turns out that she was flat out wrong about the effects of DDT. It didn't spread the way she thought it did, and no studies have ever been able to show that environmental exposure to DDT — even in large quantities — harms human health.

Considering that many environmental groups and foundations also support population control initiatives, it's clear the concern for "human health" for them is secondary to the preservation of the planet they worship.

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