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Defending DDT's Defenders:

Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute and co-founder of Africa Fighting Malaria responds to an attack from Tim Lambert and John Quiggin seeking to paint DDT defenders as stooges of the tobacco industry.

John Quiggin and Tim Lambert purport to restore Rachel Carson's reputation, trashing me and an organisation I helped found, Africa Fighting Malaria, in the process. Their article amounts to a half-baked conspiracy theory that breaks down with a cursory review of the facts. The authors' hope is that by branding me a tobacco lobbyist and claiming the tobacco industry is bankrolling the campaign for DDT, they will convince others to dismiss DDT advocates as industry stooges. They are sadly mistaken. . . .

The reality is that DDT is probably the most useful insecticide ever used for public health. . . . DDT still has a place in malaria control, one that has expanded because of sensible recent policies from WHO, the Global Fund and the US government. Quiggin and Lambert are wrong to dismiss WHO's 2006 support as a restatement of old policy. While DDT has been a WHO-approved insecticide for decades, for many years WHO officials did not promote its use, instead tending to push for insecticide-treated nets. Following WHO statements supporting DDT, some developing-country governments, such as Uganda, have been emboldened to say they want to spray the chemical, even in the face of opposition from local business lobbies. . .

I first proposed the idea of a pro-DDT campaign because I thought it was scientifically valid; I still do. Furthermore, I thought WHO and other international bodies were dangerously applying environmental regulation; they still are (the 1997 anti-insecticide World Health Assembly resolution still stands). Having spent time in malarial areas (sometimes under bed nets) and having had the disease myself, I welcome any intervention that saves lives. DDT remains underused. It is no panacea, but it is still the most cost-effective method of malaria prevention in most locations. I wish the tobacco industry had funded the campaign I proposed back in 1998, but they didn't. Quiggin and Lambert's attempt to rewrite history will not change it. DDT has saved innumerable lives. Stifling Africa's efforts to use it against malaria has likely cost many more.

Lambert responds with more guilt-by-association arguments (though he suggests a more substantive response will follow). Quiggin has a more substantive response, but it does not contest much of anything Bate has to say.

For what it's worth, I've known Bate for fifteen years and can verify his recounting of events. Like many working on environmental risk issues in the 1990s, Bate sought funding from industry sources, but this was always to promote his — not their — message. That some industries supported his work does not diminish its worth. Bate's work with the IEA and ESEF in Europe, and AEI and Africa Fighting Malaria, can and should be evaluated on its own terms. Indeed, it is telling that Bate's critics tend to spend more time attacking his funding sources — both real and imaginary — than the substance of his work.

UPDATE: J.F. Beck does some digging into the myth of a widespread, tobacco-initiated campaign to compare Rachel Carson to Hitler, and finds more links to Lambert and Quiggin than to folks actually making the outlandish (and offensive) Carson=Hitler comparison.

10ksnooker (mail):
Stooges of the tobacco industry? I am surprised they didn't blame global warming on DDT.

The tens of millions of dead African children are on the hands of the enviro-nuts who got it banned on a lie in the first place -- And that won't wash off.
5.31.2008 3:42pm
Oren:
sensible recent policies from WHO, the Global Fund and the US government.
Clearly that goes against the majority opinion on this site that these groups accomplish precisely nothing!
5.31.2008 4:01pm
John (mail):
There are people today who believe Rachel Carson was responsible for more deaths than anyone in human history. That may be an exaggeration, but she certainly helped, regardless of good intentions.

The question to ask is, who is today's Rachel Carson? Whose misguided environmentalism today will lead to much more misery and death tomorrow?
5.31.2008 4:41pm
Smokey:
I am surprised they didn't blame global warming on DDT.
It's only a matter of time.

A partial list of things caused by global warming:

Acne, agricultural land increase, Afghan poppies destroyed, Africa devastated, African aid threatened, Africa in conflict, aggressive weeds, air pressure changes, Alaska reshaped, allergies increase, Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream end, amphibians breeding earlier (or not), anaphylactic reactions to bee stings, ancient forests dramatically changed, animals head for the hills, Antarctic grass flourishes, Antarctic ice grows, Antarctic ice shrinks, Antarctic sea life at risk, anxiety treatment, algal blooms, archaeological sites threatened, Arctic bogs melt, Arctic in bloom, Arctic ice free, Arctic lakes disappear, Arctic tundra to burn, Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty, atmospheric circulation modified, attack of the killer jellyfish, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased, Baghdad snow, Bahrain under water, bananas grow, barbarisation, beer shortage, beetle infestation, bet for $10,000, better beer, big melt faster, billion dollar research projects, billion homeless, billions face risk, billions of deaths, bird distributions change, bird loss accelerating, bird visitors drop, birds confused, birds return early, birds driven north, bittern boom ends, blackbirds stop singing, blizzards, blue mussels return, bluetongue, brains shrink, bridge collapse (Minneapolis), Britain Siberian, British gardens change, brothels struggle, brown Ireland, bubonic plague, budget increases, Buddhist temple threatened, building collapse, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risks, butterflies move north, camel deaths, cancer deaths in England, cannibalism, cataracts, caterpillar biomass shift, cave paintings threatened, childhood insomnia, Cholera, circumcision in decline, cirrus disappearance, civil unrest, cloud increase, cloud stripping, cockroach migration, coffee threatened, cold climate creatures survive, cold spells (Australia), cold wave (India), computer models, conferences, conflict, conflict with Russia, consumers foot the bill, coral bleaching, coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , coral reefs twilight, cost of trillions, cougar attacks, cradle of civilisation threatened, crime increase, crocodile sex, crops devastated, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, curriculum change, cyclones (Australia), danger to kid's health, Darfur, Dartford Warbler plague, death rate increase (US), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, depression, desert advance, desert retreat, destruction of the environment, disappearance of coastal cities, diseases move north, Dolomites collapse, drought, ducks and geese decline, dust bowl in the corn belt, early marriages, early spring, earlier pollen season, Earth biodiversity crisis, Earth dying, Earth even hotter, Earth light dimming, Earth lopsided, Earth melting, Earth morbid fever, Earth on fast track, Earth past point of no return, Earth slowing down, Earth spins faster, Earth to explode, earth upside down, Earth wobbling, earthquakes, El Niño intensification, end of the world as we know it, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis, English villages lost, equality threatened, Europe simultaneously baking and freezing, eutrophication, evolution accelerating, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (human, civilisation, logic, Inuit, smallest butterfly, cod, ladybirds, pikas, polar bears, gorillas, walrus, whales, frogs, toads, plants, salmon, trout, wild flowers, woodlice, penguins, a million species, half of all animal and plant species, mountain species, not polar bears, barrier reef, leaches, tropical insects) experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, fading fall foliage, fainting, famine, farmers benefit, farmers go under, farm output boost, fashion disaster, fever,figurehead sacked, fir cone bonanza, fish catches drop, fish downsize, fish catches rise, fish deaf, fish get lost, fish stocks at risk, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, flesh eating disease, flood patterns change, floods, floods of beaches and cities, flood of migrants, flood preparation for crisis, Florida economic decline, flowers in peril, food poisoning, food prices rise, food prices soar, food security threat (SA), footpath erosion, forest decline, forest expansion, frog with extra heads, frostbite, frost damage increased, frosts, fungi fruitful, fungi invasion, games change, Garden of Eden wilts, genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed, giant oysters invade, giant pythons invade, giant squid migrate, gingerbread houses collapse, glacial earthquakes, glacial retreat, glacial growth, glacier wrapped, global cooling, global dimming, glowing clouds, god melts, golf Masters wrecked, Gore omnipresence, grandstanding, grasslands wetter, Great Barrier Reef 95% dead, Great Lakes drop, great tits cope, greening of the North, Grey whales lose weight, Gulf Stream failure, habitat loss, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, harmful algae, harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, health affected, health of children harmed, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes (Australia), heat waves, hibernation affected, hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late, HIV epidemic, homeless 50 million, hornets, high court debates, human development faces unprecedented reversal, human fertility reduced, human health improvement, human health risk, human race oblivion, hurricanes, hurricane reduction, hurricanes fewer, hurricanes not, hydropower problems, hyperthermia deaths, ice sheet growth, ice sheet shrinkage, ice shelf collapse, illness and death, inclement weather, India drowning, infrastructure failure (Canada), industry threatened, infectious diseases, inflation in China, insect explosion, insurance premium rises, Inuit displacement, Inuit poisoned, Inuit suing, invasion of cats, invasion of herons, invasion of jellyfish, invasion of midges, island disappears, islands sinking, itchier poison ivy, jellyfish explosion, jets fall from sky, jet stream drifts north, Kew Gardens taxed, kidney stones, killer cornflakes, killing us, kitten boom, koalas under threat, krill decline, lake and stream productivity decline, lake empties, lake shrinking and growing, landslides, landslides of ice at 140 mph, lawsuits increase, lawsuit successful, lawyers' income increased (surprise surprise!), lives saved, Loch Ness monster dead, lush growth in rain forests, Malaria, mammoth dung melt, Maple production advanced, Maple syrup shortage, marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, Meaching (end of the world), Mediterranean rises, megacryometeors, Melanoma, methane emissions from plants, methane burps, methane runaway, melting permafrost, Middle Kingdom convulses, migration, migration difficult (birds), migratory birds huge losses, microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly, minorities hit, monkeys on the move, Mont Blanc grows, monuments imperiled, moose dying, more bad air days, more research needed, mortality increased, mountain (Everest) shrinking, mountains break up, mountains green and flowering, mountains melting, mountains taller, mortality lower, Myanmar cyclone, narwhals at risk, National security implications, natural disasters quadruple, new islands, next ice age, NFL threatened, Nile delta damaged, noctilucent clouds, no effect in India, Northwest Passage opened, nuclear plants bloom, oaks dying, oaks move north, ocean acidification, ocean deserts expand, ocean waves speed up, opera house to be destroyed, outdoor hockey threatened, ozone repair slowed, ozone rise, Pacific dead zone, personal carbon rationing, pest outbreaks, pests increase, phenology shifts, plankton blooms, plankton destabilised, plankton loss, plant viruses, plants march north, polar bears aggressive, polar bears cannibalistic, polar bears drowning, polar bears starve, polar tours scrapped, popcorn rise, porpoise astray, profits collapse, psychiatric illness, puffin decline, railroad tracks deformed, rainfall increase, rape wave, refugees, release of ancient frozen viruses, resorts disappear, rice threatened, rice yields crash, rift on Capitol Hill, rioting and nuclear war, river flow impacted, rivers raised, roads wear out, robins rampant, rocky peaks crack apart, roof of the world a desert, rooftop bars, Ross river disease, ruins ruined, salinity reduction, salinity increase, Salmonella, satellites accelerate, school closures, sea level rise, sea level rise faster, seals mating more, sewer bills rise, severe thunderstorms, sex change, sexual promiscuity, shark attacks, sharks booming, sharks moving north, sheep shrink, shop closures, short-nosed dogs endangered, shrinking ponds, shrinking shrine, ski resorts threatened, skin cancer, slow death, smaller brains, smog, snowfall increase, snowfall heavy, snowfall reduction, soaring food prices, societal collapse, songbirds change eating habits, sour grapes, space problem, spectacular orchids, spiders invade Scotland, squid aggressive giants, squid population explosion, squirrels reproduce earlier, storms wetter, stormwater drains stressed, street crime to increase, subsidence, suicide, swordfish in the Baltic, Tabasco tragedy, taxes, tectonic plate movement, teenage drinking, terrorism, threat to peace, ticks move northward (Sweden), tides rise, tornado outbreak, tourism increase, trade barriers, trade winds weakened, traffic jams, transportation threatened, tree foliage increase (UK), tree growth slowed,, trees could return to Antarctic, trees in trouble, trees less colourful, trees more colourful, trees lush, tropics expansion, tropopause raised, truffle shortage, turtles crash, turtles lay earlier, UK coastal impact, UK Katrina, Vampire moths, Venice flooded, volcanic eruptions, walrus pups orphaned, walrus stampede, war, wars over water, wars sparked, wars threaten billions, wasps, water bills double, water supply unreliability, water scarcity (20% of increase), water stress, weather out of its mind, weather patterns awry, weeds, Western aid cancelled out, West Nile fever, whales move north, wheat yields crushed in Australia, wildfires, wind shift, wind reduced, wine - harm to Australian industry, wine industry damage (California), wine industry disaster (US), wine - more English, wine - England too hot, wine -German boon, wine - no more French , wine passé (Napa), wine stronger, winters in Britain colder, winter in Britain dead, witchcraft executions, wolves eat more moose, wolves eat less, workers laid off, World at war, World bankruptcy, World in crisis, World in flames, Yellow fever.

and all on 0.006 deg C per year! [source]
5.31.2008 4:43pm
ChrisIowa (mail):
Smokey, it's a bit excessive to just copy that much. The link's enough.

And even at that you didn't include the extra red spots on Jupiter.
5.31.2008 5:08pm
J0hn Quiggin (mail):
"Indeed, it is telling that Bate's critics tend to spend more time attacking his funding sources — both real and imaginary — than the substance of his work."

Actually, the original article to which Bate is responding contained one sentence about the tobacco funding he and ESEF received, and a full-scale refutation of attacks on Rachel Carson like those in the comments thread above. As I noted in my rejoinder, Bate's response doesn't challenge most of our substantive points on this issue.

There is a bit more in the article, mainly regarding Steven Milloy, about the tobacco industry strategy of using general attacks on environmentalists and "junk science" as a cover for its own attacks on scientific evidence about the health risks of smoking (particularly passive smoking). If any of your readers are in the habit of criticising "junk science" (I get this impression from the comments so far), they might find this interesting.
5.31.2008 5:58pm
Kirk:
who is today's Rachel Carson?
Al Gore, duh!
5.31.2008 6:27pm
Smokey:
ChrisIowa:

Sorry, you're right, the link was enough to make the point.
And even at that you didn't include the extra red spots on Jupiter.
Well, I did mention that it was only a partial list [which grows bigger and bigger, every single day hour].

And Global warming, your Trust Us, We're Experts link was fascinating, because it applies 110% to the entire environmental movement. Rachel Carson and her crony, W.O. Douglas, were among the first crusaders against DDT [although Carson never proposed that DDT should be banned; but just about every environmentalists ever since has demanded the complete banning of DDT -- no matter how detrimental that completely banning it is to human life]:

For instance, from 1934-1955 the WHO reported that there were 1.5 million cases of malaria on the island of Ceylon, causing 80,000 deaths. Ceylon implemented a DDT program in 1955, with the result that only 17 cases of malaria were reported eight years later. But due to American lobbying, the DDT program was halted, and malaria in Sri Lanka rebounded to 600,000 cases by 1968. And in 2007 a NIH study estimated that banning DDT may have caused the deaths of 20 million children.

By banning DDT, environmentalists were instrumental in bringing about the preventable deaths of millions of people from malaria and similar vectors. But most of the increased mortality from these diseases were Africans and East Indians, so does it really matter? [/s] The important thing is that enviros got the bragging rights for preventing DDT use.

The same enviros will fight tooth and nail to prevent any future use of DDT, no matter how effective it is, and no matter how many lives are saved. Anyone who doubts this should call their Representative [a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environmental movement] and ask them to propose legalizing the use of DDT in a responsible manner. Listen to their answer -- if they don't just hang up on you first.
5.31.2008 6:29pm
Brian Mac:
Why does Carson always get blamed for all those preventable malarial deaths? She never called for DDT to be banned (worldwide) to my knowledge (and it can still legally be used for vector control almost everywhere). If you really want to lay blame, then how about all those governments and government agencies which pressured developing nations not to use it (by threatening to cut off aid, etc.)?

Carson might have been wrong about a bunch of stuff, but Hitler she wasn't.
5.31.2008 6:36pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Mr. Quiggin --

Roger Bate refutes your characterization of his organizations, their history, and their work, and thereby challenges the broader narrative that it was the tobacco industry that led the effort against green fear-mongering on environmental risk issues. Unless you have some response to Bate's defense, I think you should disown your co-author's ad hominem, guilt-by-association arguments and acknowledge your false claims about Bate.

JHA
5.31.2008 6:40pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
The Lambert-Quiggin article doesn't read too badly until you hit "... led by Roger Bate, another tobacco lobbyist." They should provide some evidence for this charge and they don't seem to unless I missed something. Even at that I don't see why something supported by a tobacco company is necessarily wrong. Of course the tobacco industry has an agenda, but so does most everyone else, like the UN for instance. If good science is on their side, then they should promote it. Ultimately it's the argument that counts, not who funds it.

I read Silent Spring (a long time ago) and was not impressed. It came across more the product of a polemicist than a scientist. At points the reasoning was incompetent. For example Carlson cites a purported increase since 1900 in the percentage (of all diseases) of children dying of leukemia as evidence of pesticide harm. How could she not realize that once you cure most childhood diseases the percentage must rise? This indicates either incompetence or dishonesty. Rehabilitating Carlson seems like an unwise course to follow.
5.31.2008 6:56pm
Orson Buggeigh:
Thank you, John Quiggin for commenting.

However, I don't find your argument that the funding of science by tobacco companies is problematic to be entirely convincing. From my perspective, I would be suspicious of most studies done by anyone who is funded by a group with an interest in the outcome, unless there was convincing evidence of autonomy on the part of the researcher. That includes not only big corporations like tobacco companies, but big NGOs and advocacy groups like the NRA or Sierra Club as well. The problem I have with much of what passes for environmentalism these days is that the advocates are pushing the arguments beyond the prudent claims of scientists, and the media cheerfully play up the most extreme prospects of any claim made. I believe DDT is one very prominent example of this.

Is all environmental science junk science? No. Certainly not. But I would agree with Bate that the environmental claims of catastrophic damage due to DDT appear to have been overblown, and the positive attributes of the pesticide downplayed. And yes, I think the environmental lobbying community has not been especially open to science that does not support its desired policy agenda. In that regard, they are no different from the chemical industry, or any other group that wishes to shape public policy. That doesn't make the Sierra Club evil, and and American Enterprise Institute good, or vice versa. It just means all of us might want to bring healthy scientific skepticism to bear on any claim, from any group that seeks to shape public policy.
5.31.2008 7:07pm
Mike& (mail):
If good science is on their side, then they should promote it. Ultimately it's the argument that counts, not who funds it.

Right. Because funding has nothing to do with outcomes.
5.31.2008 7:12pm
BT:
This has nothing to do with the thread but it is nice to see you guys back up and running.
6.2.2008 5:57am
TDPerkins (mail):

Right. Because funding has nothing to do with outcomes.


It has nothing to do with independently replicatable outcomes.

There is no good, replicatable science leading to the notion DDT should not be used for point applications in anti-malarial efforts.

End of story, until Quiggen, et al, produce actual science to the contrary.

And yes, by the results of her work, people inspired by her tenditious pretenses to doing science, andher suffering the same silently and by endorsing it in her lifetime, Rachel Carson's work killed many hundreds of millions of people.

Similarly, the AGW crowd is going to be responsible for at least many millions of excess deaths if they are not stopped.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
6.2.2008 6:13am
TDPerkins (mail):
Look at this, look at the recent sunspot history...

http://spaceweather.com/

...and realize sunspot cycle 24 is quite late in taking off.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
6.2.2008 6:17am
Brian Mac:

Rachel Carson's work killed many hundreds of millions of people.

Right. Despite the fact she didn't call for a ban of DDT, and that it can still be legally used for vector control, Rachel Carson killed hundreds of millions of people (has malaria even taken that many lives since Silent Spring?). Thanks for clearing that up for me. Now, could you please continue hijacking this thread (it's all about global warming!)?
6.2.2008 6:37am
dearieme:
"guilt-by-association", like calling Global Warming sceptics "deniers", reminds me of something - what is it? - ah yes, anti-semitic conspiracy theories.
6.2.2008 7:45am
J0hn Quiggin (mail):
Jonathan, I think there are three issues here.

1. The false belief, widely held on the political right, that Rachel Carson and the environmental movement caused millions of deaths by banning DDT. Your own comments thread shows that this belief remains widespread - the purpose of our article was to refute it. If apologies are in order, the spread of this blood libel is the place to start.

2. The fact that the tobacco industry, using fronts like Steven Milloy's TASSC, used attacks on the WHO and the environmental movement over issues like DDT and global warming as a cover for its fight against the scientific evidence on the risks of smoking (particularly passive smoking). Again, lots of this stuff is being channelled in the comments thread right here - it took four comments to jump from DDT to global warming. If you'd like to challenge our evidence on this, feel free, but no one has done so yet.

3. The more particular question of where Roger Bate fits into all this. It's common ground that he worked for the tobacco industry, though there's a dispute about the extent of this work. A couple of points
A. You object to Tim Lambert's post, giving lots of evidence on the question, as being "ad hominem", but you also want us to concede factual error. There's an obvious contradiction here
B. You say that he was taking tobacco money but pursuing his own agenda. Maybe so, but it seems clear (he pretty much admits it in the Swartz interview we cite) that, at least to begin with, this was primarily an anti-environmentalist agenda, not, as presented, an anti-malaria agenda.
6.2.2008 7:53am
M. Gross (mail):
The main problem with Quiggin's article is it doesn't do a very good job refuting the point is set out to, and then turns to guilt by association in an attempt to do so. The whole article is an assault on anything regarding coherent thought. Let's take a look at just a couple parts of it:

Meanwhile, the DDT-based eradication campaign against malaria ran into the trouble Carson had warned about. The high-water mark of the campaign came in 1964. Sri Lanka had reduced its number of malaria cases from millions after the end of the war to just 29. The country declared victory over malaria and suspended spraying. WHO called the eradication programme “an international achievement without parallel in the provision of public health service.”

Here we see a supposed example of the failure of DDT Malaria control... due to early cessation of spraying. This is supposed to convince us DDT is an ineffective method of stopping Malaria?

Ignoring his various tenuous grasps at associating (and providing a motive!) the movement with the tobacco industry, which border on loose association disorder, let's take a look at this:

The pro-DDT brigade pounced on the phase-out proposal, describing it as a “ban,” and news stories made it appear that the ban was imminent. Yet during the negotiations, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the main supporters of a targeted phase-out date, abandoned its proposal, focusing instead on more stringent attempts to control the illegal use of DDT in agriculture. The outcome was an eminently sensible one.

DDT has been banned in most developed countries since the 1970s. The Stockholm treaty simply banned what little market remained for it, even though bulk production had long since been killed off by country-wide bans.

Ignoring the effect of production bans in developed countries had on the availability of DDT for malaria control is amazingly disingenuous.
6.2.2008 9:38am
Nick P.:
IIRC, as a result of Carson's efforts, DDT is no longer in widespread use as an agricultural pesticide and isn't broadcast over wide areas. If you think DDT is an effective tool against malaria when used indoors, then you can thank Carson and the people who listened to her that it is still effective. Resistance to DDT spreads rapidly through mosquito populations when it is sprayed indiscriminately over large areas, and without Silent Spring it surely would have been sprayed on veggies and ornamental flower gardens as well as mosquito-infested puddles.
6.2.2008 9:46am
TokyoTom (mail):
Jon, it's hard to read through these links and conclude that you're adding anything useful, but simply siding with an old buddy.

The allegation that Carson and enviros are responsible for the deaths of millions is irresponsible nonsense, and Bate himself clearly acknowledges both his own rhetorical excesses and that DDT was never banned globally (though many contries imposed their own restrictions for agricultural use - restictions that Bate agrees with). Bate notes that many environmental groups support use of DDT for disease control and says: "there are many ill-informed arguments for the use of DDT to be found, especially online. I may not have done enough in the early years of this decade to respond to those excesses, and may even occasionally indulged in them myself, but for many years I have tried to be logical. I even gave a partial defence of Rachel Carson in the Washington Post last year, absolving her of responsibility."

There is a cui bono/modu operandi question as to the pushing by Bate but more particularly by Milloy of the unhelpful "killed millions" libel, and it is only natural that Milloy's link to tobacco be raised in this regard. I agree that it can be seen as an ad hominem, but the mention of tobacco funding in the linked article is the merest single sentence in a factual and balanced piece that otherwise Bate hardly takes issue with. In fact, Bate actually bolsters the Lambert/Quiggin position by noting that actual bans were decided in particular countries and that
While Chinese and Indian government-backed companies continue to produce DDT for their own public health programmes, and for export, no western company has produced DDT for over a decade. Major chemical companies such as Bayer, Dow Chemical, Du Pont and BASF produce alternative products, and have incentives to see DDT phased out. Bayer actually agitated against the use of DDT, abusing its position as private sector delegate to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, as reported in the Financial Times.
On the other hand, in order to avoid agreeing to much with what he does not contest, Bate clearly miscasts the piece by Lambert and Quiggin. It does not, as Bate would have it, try to restore Carson's reputation by "trashing me and an organisation I helped found, Africa Fighting Malaria, in the process. Their article amounts to a half-baked conspiracy theory that breaks down with a cursory review of the facts." Bate's group only gets a few mentions, starting halfway through the article.

Bate and Milloy may have some service by drawing more attention to the value of DDT, but their method of exaggeration and unmerited character assassination is hardly a contribution to rational debate - and, sadly, continues. They deserve to be called out for it, despite their other contributions.
6.2.2008 9:51am
Toby:
If you are concerned about a silent spring with few or no birds, then surely you must support:

1) Trapping and Killing of all feral cats. Now.
2) Require cat leash laws controlling all non-feral cats.

One cute lil tabby in rural england was counting killing 114 or more birds *every single day*. For fun.

Ban Cats not DDT!
6.2.2008 12:44pm
Opher Banarie (mail) (www):
A few additional statements about DDT usage:

The NY Times (hardly in the pocket of the tobacco industry).

Dr. Sam Zaramba, director general of health services in Uganda, in the Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2007, called for

Environmental leaders must join the 21st century, acknowledge the mistakes [Rachel] Carson made, and balance the hypothetical risks of DDT with the real and devastating consequences of malaria. Uganda has demonstrated that, with the proper support, we can conduct model indoor spraying programs and ensure that money is spent wisely, chemicals are handled properly, our program responds promptly to changing conditions, and malaria is brought under control.


As for numbers killed by malaria there is this:


Malaria continues to topple empires today, killing over one million people every year, mostly children and pregnant women.

As Dr Wenceslaus Kilama, chairperson of Malaria Foundation International, has said, the malaria epidemic "is like loading up seven Boeing 747 airliners each day, then deliberately crashing them into Mt Kilimanjaro".


If responsible parties in African countries are calling for DDT as the most useful way to control (or end) malaria in Africa, why is the developed world preventing them from getting it?
6.2.2008 1:13pm
Skeeterbeeter:
I would trade birds for mosquitos any day, and I like birds. Birds make life more enjoyable; mosquitos make venturing outside intolerable for 1/3 of the year.
6.2.2008 1:25pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I am quite open to arguments about DDT's usefulness.

However, what I hate about arguments like this is that a lot of it seems to be score-settling. Many conservatives can't stand the victories that the environmental movement gained in the 1960's and 1970's and want to trash Rachel Carson and other environmentalists.

Let's consider the use of DDT on its own merits without using this as an excuse to try and deligitimize the entire green cause.
6.2.2008 4:01pm
Smokey:
TokyoTom:
"The allegation that Carson and enviros are responsible for the deaths of millions is irresponsible nonsense..."
No, it is not. As referenced above, a National Institutes of Health study in 2007 estimated that banning DDT may have caused the deaths of 20 million children. If you have a citation refuting that, please post it in place of your uniformed speculation that controlled DDT use would not save millions of lives. Most responsible people would prefer to consider an NIH study of the efficacy and the cost/benefit analysis of DDT, rather than hear unsupported, fact-free opinion.

It is noteworthy that those demanding that the DDT ban must be kept in place appear to be completely unconcerned about the numerous lives that would be saved if the DDT ban were even partially lifted [and make no mistake, it is effectively a ban; if it is not, please provide a legitimate citation showing where in the U.S. DDT is in commercial use today].

The same goes for JOhn Quiggin, whose odious and repeated use of ad hominem attacks referencing "big oil," and Steven Milloy, and the "political right," and the "tobacco industry" take the place of scientific facts and peer-reviewed studies. Quiggin's self serving and unprofessional ad hominem attack against Roger Bate -- as being motivated because he is a stooge for big tobacco -- is particularly egregious and reprehensible, and serves only to discredit any reasonable argument that Quiggin might have attempted.

Lambert and Quinn's generally unsupported opinion that DDT use is worse than saving tens of millions of lives purports to be scientific, but their argument doesn't have much credible scholarship to back it up. Why, then, should anything they say be taken seriously?
6.2.2008 4:04pm
J0hn Quiggin:
As regards your update, Jonathan, you need only read your own comments thread to see how far off the mark Beck's Google exercise is. The third comment says "Rachel Carson was responsible for more deaths than anyone in human history." and there are plenty more along similar lines.

These don't show up in the precise form needed for a Google search (it's typical of Beck to focus on this kind of pedantic nitpicking) but they illustrate how widespread this claim is.

As regards the quote, as Beck eventually admits, it appears in this precise form in the mouth of Michael Crichton's protagonist in State of Fear.There are plenty more along similar lines.

Here, for example is Ann Coulter.

And here (using Stalin instead of Hitler this time) is Spiked

If refutations of the lies and slanders directed at Rachel Carson now score higher Google rank than the original lies, that's a good thing, but I don't see how you can claim that this means the slanders were "a myth".
6.3.2008 12:31am
Grover Gardner (mail):

As referenced above, a National Institutes of Health study in 2007 estimated that banning DDT may have caused the deaths of 20 million children.


I believe you're referring to a statement by Robert Gwadz of the NIH. I don't believe there was any formal study involved. Do you have an actual reference to one?
6.3.2008 12:31am
J0hn Quiggin (mail):
To be absolutely clear, the Spiked article doesn't endorse the comparison with Stalin, but notes that this kind of thing is common among "right-leaning commentators", and gives links,
6.3.2008 12:46am
TokyoTom (mail):
Smokey, your post is nothing but alot of impassioned, but wholly uninformed, swill:

- you cite an NHI study that doesn't exist,
- post a completely unsupportable strawman that I have advanced "uniformed speculation that controlled DDT use would not save millions of lives" - while not even troubling to consider (i) the serious issue of growing mosquito resistance to DDT resulting from indiscrimminate spraying for agricultural use that led the world community (spearheaded by the WHO) to abandon eradication as a goal and that (ii) "controlled DDT use" - limited spraying in and around homes - which is all that Bate is suggesting, was in fact never banned and is a shared agenda item,
- refer to the US ban on domestic use of DDT as if it magically constituted some kind of non-existent global ban,
- provide no support for an allegation that those who demand that the non-existent DDT ban "must be kept in place" are "completely unconcerned about the numerous lives that would be saved if the DDT ban were even partially lifted" - even while it is quite clear that the issue is complicated, with tradeoffs all around - including the very real problem of DDT resistance that forced the end of eradication efforts,
- pretend that Lambert and Quiggin's brief, cui bono attention to the past actions or funding sources of Milloy and Bate (only arguably irrelevant or an ad hom) somehow either constitutes the whole of their argument ("take[s] the place of scientific facts and peer-reviewed studies") or that their concern about the health and environmental risks of DDT and about DDT resistance "is generally unsupported opinion that DDT use is worse than saving tens of millions", yet you fail to note that of course their concerns have valid support, or Milloy and Bate would argue for a widespread eradication effort based on DDT, which they don't.

For one who purports to be a "responsible" person who is interested in facts and analysis rather than "unsupported, fact-free opinion", you sure have a way of demonstrating just the opposite.

The truth of the matter is that fighting malaria is an extremely difficult endeavor, hindered by DDT resistance, problems with fighting the malaria parasite family directly (resistance to drugs and difficulties in finding any vaccination), and very much compounded by the availability of standing water in tropical areas and by poor governance, high population growth, instability and conflict and lack of affluence and health infrastructure in affected countries (particularly Africa) - none of which can be laid at the foot of "enviros", and none of which, unfortunately, guys like Bate or Milloy and others who bandy around the "Carson and enviros killed millions" meme show the slightest interest in shelling out tax dollars or otherwise making any kind of concerted effort needed to address malaria and the related problems of failed governance.

Smokey, let me leave you with this rather pithy summary (which omits the fact that the WHO had already backed off of eradication BEFORE the US ban):

CHRISTOPHER Pearson (Inquirer, 24-25/1) blames "the environmental lobby . . . with direct responsibility for millions of needless deaths, mostly of children in the Third World, from malaria". The argument is that Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring falsely accused the insecticide DDT of dangers to both human health and the environment, that this accusation led to the banning of DDT in mosquito control programs in areas where malaria is endemic (mostly the tropics), and as a direct result of this ban, millions of people died.

This argument is arrant nonsense, recycled from an article in Quadrant, in turn recycled from a number of unscientific and unsubstantiated websites. As professionals and teachers in the field of parasite disease control, we are only too well aware of how such rubbish can be transmuted from cyberspace junk to popular folklore. Your readers should be aware of the facts:

The manufacture and use of DDT was banned in the US in 1972, on the advice of the US Environmental Protection Agency. The use of DDT has since been banned in most other developed nations, but it is not banned for public health use in most areas of the world where malaria is endemic. Indeed, DDT was recently exempted from a proposed worldwide ban on organophosphate chemicals.

DDT usage for malaria control involves spraying the walls and backs of furniture, so as to kill and repel adult mosquitoes that may carry the malaria parasite. Other chemicals are available for this purpose, but DDT is cheap and persistent and is often a very effective indoor insecticide which is still used in many parts of the world.

DDT is not used for outdoor mosquito control, partly because scientific studies have demonstrated toxicity to wildlife, but mainly because its persistence in the environment rapidly leads to the development of resistance to the insecticide in mosquito populations. There are now much more effective and acceptable insecticides, such as Bacillus thuringiensis, to kill larval mosquitoes outdoors.

Reductions in the use of DDT did occur in a number of developing nations after the US ban in 1972. This reflected concerns over environmental consequences of DDT, but was also a result of many other factors. One of the important factors in declining use of DDT was decreasing effectiveness and greater costs because of the development of resistance in mosquitoes. Resistance was largely caused by the indiscriminate, widespread use of DDT to control agricultural pests in the tropics. This problem, in fact, was anticipated by Carson: "No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored . . . The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse."

Malaria is a major, ongoing disease problem in much of the developing world. Increases in the incidence of the disease have occurred for complex reasons. Reduced insecticide usage is one, but others include the resistance to treatment in both the parasite and the mosquito vectors, changes in land use that have provided new mosquito habitat, and the movement of people into new, high-risk areas.

Most nations where malaria is a problem, and most health professionals working in the field of malaria control, support the targeted use of DDT, as part of the tool kit for malaria control. Most also agree that more cost-effective, less environmentally persistent alternatives are needed. There are some effective alternative chemicals for the control of adult mosquitoes, but preventing their further development is lack of invest ment by industry, because malaria is largely a disease of the poor.

Malaria is responsible for enormous suffering and death. The facts are readily available in the scientific literature. To blame a reduction in DDT usage for the death of 10-30 million people from malaria is not just simple-minded, it is demonstrably wrong. To blame a mythical, monolithic entity called the environmental lobby for the total reduction in DDT usage is not just paranoid, it is also demonstrably wrong. Your article is not only poor journalism, it is an insult to the people who work for the control of parasitic diseases that afflict developing nations.

Dr Alan Lymbery
Professor Andrew Thompson
Parasitology Unit
Division of Health Sciences
Murdoch University
6.3.2008 2:52am
Ed Darrell (mail):
The same enviros will fight tooth and nail to prevent any future use of DDT, no matter how effective it is, and no matter how many lives are saved.


Actually, as I've noted at Millard Fillmore's Bathtub, opposition to DDT, especially in Africa, comes from business interests, chiefly tobacco and a few other agricultural businesses. Environmental Defense has been trying to pry DDT loose from the Bush administration for most of the last decade (USAID is still reticent to fund DDT, or bednets, for reasons known only to Bush administration officials and God). Generally I challenge people to tell me which enviro groups oppose the use of DDT -- in the past two years no critic, including Bate and Milloy, has been able to name one environmental group opposing the wise use of DDT as proposed by WHO (ironically, endorsed by Rachel Carson in 1962: If only the Carson critics had listened to her, millions might have been saved. So let us issue the challenge here: Name the environmental groups opposing IRS use of DDT anywhere. Please.

Many of the readers of this blog are academics. I invite you to wander over to Steven Milloy's website, Junk Science, and check out his "100 things you ought to know about DDT." Specifically, check out the footnotes. For the past year I've been going over them, and so far I have not found a single footnote to a claim against Carson or in favor of DDT which was either cited correctly, as the author of the original article intended, or which was not entirely bogus.

Would you accept such research from a student? We shouldn't accept such sloppy and error-ridden claims in pursuit of real policy, either, regardless our political bent. Literally, lives are at stake.

One note I've not tracked down comes from another source. In November 2007, Discover magazine ran a short feature on DDT. It noted that, quite the contrary to the claims of Rachel Carson having erred, more than 1,000 peer-reviewed studies have been published since 1962 confirming Carson's conclusions. I would note that I have not found a single piece of research anywhere that rebuts Carson's claims when read as the researchers intended the studies to be read.

That speaks of an enormous public relations assault on Carson, doesn't it? 1,000 studies in her favor, none against: And yet this blog gives credence to J. F. Beck and Roger Bate? There is something rotten there.

Listen to Quiggin and Lambert. If Bate has turned in favor of helping Africans, good on him. But his criticisms of Rachel Carson are misplaced calumny, and they suggest he's still in the mental employ of dark forces of business, if not still on the payroll.
6.3.2008 3:20am
J F Beck (mail) (www):
The following verbatim excerpt is from Quiggin and Lambert's essay, heavily edited before later appearing as an article in The Prospect:

Rachel Carson launched the modern environmental movement. She was posthumously awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom, and has conservation areas, prizes and associations named in her honor.

Yet Carson is also regularly accused of killing more people than Hitler. Her accusers hold her responsible for a ban on the use of the insecticide DDT (Dichloro- Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) which allegedly halted a campaign that was about to eradicate malaria, and blame her for millions of deaths from malaria in the Third World.

This claim has been made repeatedly, and in strident terms, on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Fox News and other outlets associated with the political right. The basic premise of the story, that pressure from environmentalists has hindered the fight against malaria, has been accepted by writers in the New York Times, Washington Post and so on. This has led to pressure on the World Health Organization (WHO) and other bodies to reverse the putative ban, pressure which has led WHO to replace the head of its antimalaria division and announce changes in policies.


Quiggin and Lambert could have said Carson is regularly accused of killing millions but instead chose to claim she is "regularly accused of killing more people than Hitler". Quiggin should support his claim by quoting from and linking to some of those comparing Carson to Hitler – he can start with the WSJ and Fox News.

Quiggin can then quote from and link to WSJ and Fox News articles saying that Carson is responsible for a ban on DDT that halted a program that was about to eradicate malaria thus causing millions to die.

Quiggin can then provide support for the claim that pressure from the right "has led WHO to replace the head of its antimalaria division and announce changes in policies".


Quiggin and Lambert throw in the Hitler claim for emotional impact: right-wingers regularly and unjustly accuse Saint Rachel of being worse than Hitler – why, that's truly evil. It's an attempt to nullify criticism of Carson and her worshipers by painting her attackers as lunatics.

Linking Carson critics to Big Tobacco is another critcism-nullifying ploy. Here's Quiggin describing those who criticize Carson:

One of the great puzzles of the DDT myth has been that it appeared to arise from pure ideological animus against Carson and the environmental movement - DDT is not patented so there were no profits to be obtained from pushing it. It turns out that the DDT campaign was pitched to the tobacco industry as a diversionary attack on the World Health Organization which was playing a leading role in campaigns against smoking. The leading figure in the exercise was Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute and its front organization, Africa Fighting Malaria.

So, far from helping to save lives, the bloggers and commentators who’ve pushed the myth of the DDT ban have been the (presumably unwitting) dupes of an industry even deadlier than malaria...
This ignores that fact that people choose to smoke but no one chooses to get malaria. That many knowledgeable people have derided Silent Spring, going back to well before the involvement of Big Tobacco, is also ignored.

Finally, why is it that Quiggin and Lambert's Prospect "web exclusive" article contains neither references nor links?
6.3.2008 8:11am
J F Beck (mail) (www):
By the way, I've tried to discuss this with Quiggin at his blog but if I say something he doesn't like he's inclined to go all sad and then remove my comment.

Lambert doesn't want to discuss DDT either: some of my comments make it through (24+ hours in moderation is not uncommon) but if I say something pointed he'll refuse to post it.

Ed Darrell's DDT ignorance is legendary
6.3.2008 8:26am
J0hn Quiggin:
As you see, Jonathan, your case now rests on the claim that the lie "Rachel Carson killed millions" is radically different from the lie "Rachel Carson killed more people than Hitler".

As shown above, both claims have been made by prominent figures (the Hitler version is given by Crichton, Coulter, Avery and others), but Beck's big point is that the first version is more common, while we cited the second. Do you really want to rely on this guy?
6.3.2008 8:54am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Mr. Quiggin --

I readily admit that Ann Coulter and others have said outlanding, indefensible, and offensive things with regard to DDT, Rachel Carson, etc. But this does not excuse your and Tim Lambert's repeated inaccurate charges against Bate and many others who a) have not made such claims, and b) have sought to rehabilitate DDT and encourage its responsible use for malaria control.

You and Lambert have made many false or misleading claims in your efforts to tar the reputations of Bate and others -- claims you've not retracted or apologized for. For instance, you've accused Bate of being a tobacco lobbyist, but that's wrong. He asked for money from tobacco (and many other companies) to support his work, but so what. You've accused AFM of being an AEI or tobacco front, but that's wrong too. You've said that the pro-DDT arguments began with Steve Milloy, TASSC and oterh tobacco-funded enterprises, but that's wrong too (see, for instance, anti-tobacco zealot Elizabeth Whelan's book Toxic Terror).

While we're on the subject (and this may be worth a post of its own once I finish grading exams), I find it interesting that you and Lambert make no real effort to defend Carson's inaccurate claims in Silent Spring about the consequences of chemical pesticide use, such as her claim that widespread use was causing a cancer epidemic and would cause 1 in 4 people to die from cancer. According to Carson, pesticide use amounted to a "relentless war on life" so extreme that modern society was "losing the right to be called civilized." Given the benefits of agricultural chemicals for increasing crop yields in the late 20th century, this is quite an irresponsible claim. In short, though Silent Spring is her most famous book, it was not her best. (That honor probably belongs to The Sea Around Us.)

Although Carson did not endorse many of the more extreme policy proposals forwarded in her name -- and should not be compared with mass murderers or blamed for the actions of others -- there is no question that her book helped foster an environmental chemophobia that led to restrictions on many valuable (and, in some cases, life-saving) chemical substances. It is also clear that she made inaccurate claims that had the effect of encouraging bad environmental policies.

To be clear, I do not think Rachel Carson should be blamed for killing millions. Coulter, et al. are wrong to do so. But there is little doubt Silent Spring made many inaccurate claims and encouraged bad environmental policies, including formal and informal restrictions on the use of DDT where it could help save lives, and that such restrictions -- again, both formal and informal -- had significant consequences. And it is shameful to assault the integrity and slime the reputation of individuals like Roger Bate with false charges in an effort to squelch this message and, as a consequence, threaten the important work that Bate and others are doing to help control the spread of malaria.

JHA

JHA
6.3.2008 9:35am
J F Beck (mail) (www):
Why wouldn't I accept that Carson contributed to the deaths of millions? Here's notorious right-wing hack Fred Pearce in New Scientist:

It seems millions of lives have been lost because health experts threw away their best weapon. Are environmentalists to blame? There is no doubt that DDT was misused as an agricultural pesticide and seriously damaged wildlife. In that sense Carson was right. But regulators did not recognise that spraying indoors was different. And an environmental outcry against DDT helped to ensure that the early fears about its effect on human health became entrenched dogma long after they had been proved unfounded.


A fictional character in a novel doesn't count as anyone saying anything. The Coulter article mentions Hitler once:

Liberals have always had a thing about eliminating humans. Stalin wanted to eliminate the kulaks and Ukranians, vegetarian atheist Adolf Hitler wanted to eliminate the Jews, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger wanted to eliminate poor blacks, DDT opponent Rachel Carson wanted to eliminate Africans (introduction to her book "Silent Spring" written by ... Al Gore!), and population-control guru Paul Ehrlich wants to eliminate all humans.
Now that doesn't exactly support your "[Carson is] regularly accused of killing more people than Hitler" claim, now does it? Surely you should be able to come up with lots of quotes since it's, you know, "regularly" said.

How about some proof that pressure from the right caused the WHO to change personnel and policies?
6.3.2008 9:40am
J F Beck (mail) (www):
By the way, it's your Hitler claim so I assume you had lots of citations available when you wrote the article, right?

Your WHO policy change claim is a funny one since you earlier claim that the WHO's policy change wasn't really a change in policy. According to you the policy change was window dressing to appease right-wingers. So the WHO's policy change wasn't really a policy change after all. Yet your article makes the "policy change" seem almost sinister.
6.3.2008 9:57am
J F Beck (mail) (www):
To fill in some time while John Quiggin frantically Googles Carson + Hitler and keeps coming up with links to Lambert and himself here's the link he previously offered to prove the claim that the WSJ holds "[Rachel Carson) responsible for a ban on the use of the insecticide DDT (Dichloro- Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) which allegedly halted a campaign that was about to eradicate malaria, and blame her for millions of deaths from malaria in the Third World". He doesn't offer the link here because he knows it doesn't support his case.
6.3.2008 10:41am
Tim Lambert (mail) (www):
Jonathan Adler, Roger Bate did much more than ask tobacco companies for money. He was paid by them to produce a book that argued the tobacco companies' line on second-hand smoke. I suppose we could call him a paid advocate of tobacco companies if you think that sounds better. I detailed this in my post, which you described as "guilt-by-association", whiich suggests that you dodn't read it or don't know what guilt by association means.
6.3.2008 2:24pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Mr. Lambert --

Your post demonstrates nothing more than the fact, readily admitted by all, that Roger Bate successfully solicited tobacco companies to support a book project. This hardly makes the book a work-for-hire (as your phrasing suggests), nor does it make him a "paid advocate of tobacco companies." The book, and ESEF's work, was also supported by various charitable foundations. Does this mean Bate was a "paid advocate" of said foundations? And by this standard, are environmentalist organizations that receive corporate gifts now "paid advocates" of such corporations?

Here is what happened. After founding ESEF to address climate issues, Roger Bate sought to expand ESEF's work into other areas, including environmental risk, and he sought funding for its work from a variety of foundation and corporate sources. Tobacco companies responded favorably, as did other solicited donors. There is nothing nefarious about this, and it is disingenuous -- to say the least -- to suggest otherwise.

One final point, even if you were correct on this point, it would still not excuse your and Mr. Quiggin's other false attacks on Bate and others -- attacks which you have still yet to recant. I would expect better from someone who holds himself as a truth-teller and fact-checker.

JHA
6.3.2008 3:19pm
J0hn Quiggin (mail):


On ESEF, there is ample evidence that it was founded as a European version of TASSC (the tobacco-funded Milloy outfit). For example, the two bodies issued joint press releases in which they were described in parallel terms. For example ""TASSC and ESEF are not-for-profit organizations of scientists, former public policy officials and others interested in the use of sound science in policy.""
"

Since you refer to "false attacks on Bate and others" are you now seeking to defend Milloy as well?

I will be happy to recant any claim regarding Bate and Milloy that can be shown to be false, or not supported by extensive evidence. I'm not sure, at this point, what claims you are objecting to, so it might help if you restated this.

PS since you've conceded that the Carson=Hitler/Carson killed millions claims are widespread, as we said, perhaps you might want to remove your update.
6.3.2008 4:25pm
J F Beck (mail) (www):
John Quiggin, the usual thing is for someone shown to be wrong to admit to his error. Instead you ask for a retraction. Bizarro.

Let's again take a look at what you wrote in the "director's cut" of your essay:
Yet Carson is also regularly accused of killing more people than Hitler. Her accusers hold her responsible for a ban on the use of the insecticide DDT (Dichloro- Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) which allegedly halted a campaign that was about to eradicate malaria, and blame her for millions of deaths from malaria in the Third World.

This claim has been made repeatedly, and in strident terms, on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Fox News and other outlets associated with the political right. The basic premise of the story, that pressure from environmentalists has hindered the fight against malaria, has been accepted by writers in the New York Times, Washington Post and so on. This has led to pressure on the World Health Organization (WHO) and other bodies to reverse the putative ban, pressure which has led WHO to replace the head of its antimalaria division and announce changes in policies.


Now since "this claim" has been "repeatedly" made in the WSJ's editorial pages you should be able to point to some examples. Please do.

In reality, you and Lambert (Quiglam for those in the know) are amongst the major spreaders of the Carson "killed more people than Hitler" nonsense. It's an effort to paint all who hold Carson responsible, directly or indirectly, for hampering anti-malaria efforts as unhinged. According to Quiglam, Carson's critics are not only unhinged, they're the dupes of tobacco companies. Sorry, it ain't gonna fly.
6.3.2008 6:38pm
Brian Mac:
Vaguely off-topic, but a post on the risks posed by synthetic vs. natural chemicals might be fun.
6.3.2008 9:01pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Mr. Quiggin --

On ESEF, you are wrong again. The document you cite contains nothing more than speculation that ESEF was the outcome of some PR firms to create a European TASSC, based on nothing more than a few joint press relesaes by ESEF and TASSC. A little bit of checking, however, would reveal that ESEF was founded by Bate while he was at the IEA, and the focus of the group was initially global climate change. Neither TASSC nor the tobacco industry had anything to do with it, and nothing you cite demonstrates otherwise. So, once again, you have made a false charge about Bate that is easily refuted. So where are the retractions?

As for who I am defending: I am defending Bate and those with whom he worked. I am not defending Milloy, with whose work I am less familiar, but who I am aware has endorsed some erroneous claims about DDT (such as by claiming there is no link between DDT and bird population declines).

As a final note, an Ann Coulter column, some Freepers and a few blog commenters hardly demonstrates that a given claim is "widespread." Rather, it seems to me, you and Lambert have cherry-picked the most outrageous comments and sought to attribute these views to all those with pro-DDT views.

JHA
6.3.2008 9:18pm
Smokey:
I was prepared to set straight a couple of posters above, when I noticed that the Quiggan propaganda site deletes reasonable questions that Quiggan finds uncomfortable. In response, let me repeat Smokey's Law of Moderated Sites:

Any site which arbitrarily deletes well-intentioned, reasonable questions or factual comments is a partisan propaganda site.

For example, one of the premier propaganda sites masquerading as a legitimate science site is RealClimate, which routinely deletes comments by legitimate, internationally known climatologists, meteorologists, statisticians and esteemed physicists who dispute the Party line that humans are primarily responsible for global warming, and that carbon [by which they mean carbon dioxide] is evil. Thus, it is no surprise that ClimateAudit.org won the Best of the Web Science Site Award, far, far ahead of RealClimate.

Scientists know the legitimate sites from the bogus sites.

No scientist worth his salt is afraid of questions, because the goal of a true scientist is the truth, not political partisanship.

Quiggan thus fails -- by deleting the uncomfortable comments that he is incapable of adequately answering without losing the argument. The truth is not in Mr. Quiggin. All that he has is one-sided, partisan propaganda.
6.3.2008 10:28pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

I was prepared to set straight a couple of posters above, when I noticed that the Quiggan propaganda site deletes reasonable questions that Quiggan finds uncomfortable.


No one's comments are deleted here. You're free to set us straight any time you please. Why not start with a link to that non-existent study you cited?
6.3.2008 10:59pm
jc1 (mail):
Yes that is correct Grover, both Professor Quiggin and his beautiful assistant Tim (shiny) Lambert run propaganda sites that would make the Soviets green with envy.

Quiggin was the inspiration behind the name of a new law. Modelled on Godwin's law that says any person who brings up the Nazis as a comparison loses an argument.

We now have Rothman's law.

Rothman's law says Quiggin automatically loses an argument when he raises the issue of tobacco.

Quiggins is basically an old head kicker for the left and ought to be giggled at rather than ever taken seriously.

Some people would put Quiggin and Lambert as 911 truthers in terms of credibility.
6.5.2008 12:53am
jc1 (mail):
By the way, I've tried to discuss this with Quiggin at his blog but if I say something he doesn't like he's inclined to go all sad and then remove my comment.


That's so true. He's always leading with his chin and when he gets a severe "clocking" (frequently) he takes his bat and goes sulking like a big crybaby.

He's threatened numerous people with law suits in Australia trying to shut down debate in attempt to intimidate people.

He threatened me once until he realized I don't scare easily.

Usually though he goes behind my back and demands I am banned from sites despite not having mentioned the clowns name at the request of the blog owner. John, you know I am always looking forward to seeing you in court.

Tell us, how many people have you threatened to sue, John? You clown.
6.5.2008 1:07am
Ed Darrell (mail):
Carson provided 53 pages of citations in Silent Spring. I find it interesting that her critics almost never provide a citation to where she is supposed to have written something in error. Every claim she made in the book was footnoted. Most of her sources were the scientists who were responsible for doing the work to ensure that farming and health care had available to them the chemical tools necessary to do the job.

Mr. Adler said:

While we're on the subject (and this may be worth a post of its own once I finish grading exams), I find it interesting that you and Lambert make no real effort to defend Carson's inaccurate claims in Silent Spring about the consequences of chemical pesticide use, such as her claim that widespread use was causing a cancer epidemic and would cause 1 in 4 people to die from cancer. According to Carson, pesticide use amounted to a "relentless war on life" so extreme that modern society was "losing the right to be called civilized." Given the benefits of agricultural chemicals for increasing crop yields in the late 20th century, this is quite an irresponsible claim. In short, though Silent Spring is her most famous book, it was not her best. (That honor probably belongs to The Sea Around Us.)


Got a citation to where she said that? Did you bother to check it out? I'll wager that her statement was based on research available at the time, that her statement was adequately qualified, and I'll wager that there is no study done anywhere which much challenges her well-footnoted statement. It's one thing to note errors an author made about science 46 years ago; it's quite another to accuse her of errors that were not made. Which of the studies Carson cited do you claim was in error, Mr. Adler?

Mr. Beck worries about my ignorance and, at the screed he links to, my political leanings. Am I now or have I ever been active in working for political and policy organizations? I confess, I have. My ignorance and political leanings are all a matter of public record, and I readily admit to not being a working scientist, even when working in areas of science policy at such "leftie" organizations as the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources for its chairman (1981-85) and the U.S. Department of Education (1987).

In those leftie organizations at that time, it was important to get citations right. That was especially true when the chair of the labor committee took on issues of science and public policy, such as tobacco and health, or radiation and health, or cancer fighting in general. If that's a symbol of leftward politics, make the most of it.
6.5.2008 5:17am
J F Beck (mail) (www):
Am I the only one to notice Quiglam's stonewalling? They write rubbish that they'll neither discuss nor correct.

Ed Darrell, you spout all sorts of rubbish on DDT and Carson and are not to be taken seriously. There are all sorts of errors in Silent Spring as I've pointed out to you at your blog. For example:
In Silent Spring Carson claims a person was struck down with cancer almost immediately after using DDT three times to spray her basement. I suppose such a ludicrous claim is your idea of good science.
You respond with this drivel:
Carson did recount the story of a woman who probably overused DDT, and shortly thereafter came down with leukemia, not breast cancer (you mislead again). While leukemia has not been studied in as great a depth as breast cancer with regard to DDT, leukemia is one of those cancers whose onset can occur very shortly after an insult to the human system, such as exposure to a carcinogen in massive quantities. While I would not use Carson’s anecdote as scientific evidence, neither would I dismiss it by misleading people to think the victim died of a cancer different from the one she died of, or that there could be no link to the DDT application, when there could be.
You are also on record describing indoor residual spraying as an effort to "poison Africa with DDT". If anything, you're worse than Lambert.
6.5.2008 6:43am
jc1 (mail):

If anything, you're worse than Lambert.



No seriously, is that possible?
6.5.2008 11:08am