Rachel Carson’s lethal claptrap 3

Google is celebrating the work of the environmmentalist Rachel Carson, who was born 107 years ago this month.

Yesterday Google disdained offering a special banner for Memorial Day.  Today they compound this insult with a banner marking the birthday of Rachel Carson, author of the deeply wrong Silent SpringFew books since Das Kapital have done more damage to humans than Silent Spring, and yet she —and her dreadful book — continue to be honored by the Left.

Henry I. Miller* and Gregory Conko* severely criticize Rachel Carson at Forbes:

We recently passed the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s best-selling book, Silent Spring. Widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement, it was an emotionally charged but deeply flawed denunciation of the widespread spraying of chemical pesticides for the control of insects. Today, the book is still revered by many, but its legacy is anything but positive.

As detailed by Roger Meiners and Andy Morriss in their scholarly yet very readable analysis, Silent Spring at 50: Reflections on an Environmental Classic, Carson … “encourages some of the most destructive strains within environmentalism: alarmism, technophobia, failure to consider the costs and benefits of alternatives, and the discounting of human well-being around the world”. 

Carson’s proselytizing and advocacy raised substantial anxiety about DDT and led to bans in most of the world and to restrictions on other chemical pesticides.  But the fears she raised were based on gross misrepresentations and scholarship so atrocious that, if Carson were an academic, she would be guilty of egregious academic misconduct.  Her observations about DDT have been condemned by many scientists.  In the words of Professor Robert H. White-Stevens, an agriculturist and biology professor at Rutgers University, “If man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth.”

Even fellow environmentalists called her a liar, uninterested in the truth:

In 1992, San Jose State University entomologist J. Gordon Edwards, a long-time member of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society and a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, offered a persuasive and comprehensive rebuttal of Silent Spring. As he explained in The Lies of Rachel Carson, a stunning, point by point refutation, “it simply dawned on me that that Rachel Carson was not interested in the truth about [pesticides] and that I was being duped along with millions of other Americans”.  He demolished Carson’s arguments and assertions, calling attention to critical omissions, faulty assumptions, and outright fabrications.  … [He wrote]:

This implication that DDT is horribly deadly is completely false.  Human volunteers have ingested as much as 35 milligrams of it a day for nearly two years and suffered no adverse effects.  Millions of people have lived with DDT intimately during the mosquito spray programs and nobody even got sick as a result.  The National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1965 that ‘in a little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million [human] deaths that would otherwise have been inevitable’.  The World Health Organization stated that DDT had ‘killed more insects and saved more people than any other substance’.

In addition, DDT was used with dramatic effect to shorten and prevent typhus epidemics during and after WWII when people were dusted with large amounts of it but suffered no ill effects, which is perhaps the most persuasive evidence that the chemical is harmless to humans.  The product was such a boon to public health that in 1948 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Dr. Paul Müller for his discovery of the “contact insecticidal action” of DDT.

It is extraordinary that anyone in the mainstream scientific community could continue to embrace the sentimental claptrap of Silent Spring, so we were surprised to see the commentary, In Retrospect: Silent Spring, in the scientific journal Nature in May by evolutionary biologist Rob Dunn.  Science is, after all, evidence-based, but Dunn’s puff piece is a flawed and repugnant whitewash of Carson’s failure to present actual evidence to support her assertions, and of the carnage that she caused.  It also demonstrates that Dunn knows little about the history or toxicology of DDT. …

Carson’s disingenuous proselytizing spurred public pressure to ban DDT in many countries, with disastrous consequences: a lack of effective control of mosquitoes that carry malaria and other diseases.  Malaria imposes huge costs on individuals, families and governments.  It inflicts a crushing economic burden on malaria-endemic countries and impedes their economic growth.  A study by the Harvard University Center for International Development estimated that a high incidence of malaria reduces economic growth by 1.3 percentage points each year.  Compounded over the four decades since the first bans of DDT, that lost growth has made some of the world’s poorest countries an astonishing 40 percent poorer than had there been more effective mosquito control. …

The legacy of Rachel Carson is that tens of millions of human lives – mostly children in poor, tropical countries – have been traded for the possibility of slightly improved fertility in raptors. 

This remains one of the monumental human tragedies of the last century.

* Henry I. Miller, a physician, is the Robert Wesson Fellow of Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover institution; he was the founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology. Gregory Conko is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

The evil that Greenpeace does 20

Speaking of self-righteous busybodies – which we were below, see On our masters and commanders – one of the most egregious is Greenpeace. Wielding  amazing power to influence political decisions internationally, these bigoted prigs cause millions of the world’s poorest to die by preventing them from having the means to save themselves. Their unproven and in any case imbecilic excuse is that the marvelous saving products of science and technology are harmful to Nature.

It could be argued – and we do – that they are committing mass-murder by moral arrogance.

Who makes it possible for them to work their evil?

For one, the Obama administration.

Paul Driessen writes at Townhall:

Climate-Czar Carol Browner and other federal agency heads continue to fork over large sums of taxpayer money to Greenpeace and similar eco-activists, to subsidize their anti-corporate, global warming, “sustainable” energy and regulatory thumbscrew campaigns… [Greenpeace’s] truly odious ethical violations, however, involve activities that directly damage the livelihoods and lives of innocent people, particularly in impoverished countries.

Greenpeace justifies its anti-energy ideologies by claiming they are preserving rivers, avoiding dangerous radiation and preventing “runaway” global warming… Even in the midst of a global cooling period and widening Climategate scandal, Greenpeace is still clinging to its tired fabrications and storylines…

In Britain, France and elsewhere, Greenpeace vandals have destroyed bio-engineered crops, wiping out millions of dollars in research to develop food plants that require fewer pesticides, are more nutritious, reduce dangerous mold toxins, withstand floods and droughts, and increase crop yields. The people who would benefit most from this research are the poorest, most malnourished on Earth. They could improve their lives, simply by planting different, better corn, cotton or soybean seeds..

In fact, Bt corn [where it has been used despite Greenpeace’s opposition] has enabled farmers [eg in South Africa] … to cut pesticide use and expenses by 75%, triple their profits, save 35-49 days per season working in fields, and save enough to buy a refrigerator or even a new house. And yet rich-country Greenpeace activists oppose the technology.

Greenpeace campaigns against insecticides and insect-repelling DDT are even more lethal. These chemicals could prevent malaria, which kills a million people annually and leaves millions more brain-damaged…

But Greenpeace claims “some researchers think” DDT “could be inhibiting lactation because of its estrogen-like effects and may be contributing to lactation failure throughout the world.” No peer-reviewed medical studies back up these claims, and lactation problems are definitely associated with the malaria and malnutrition that would be reduced by technologies the Warriors oppose.

Worldwide, 1.5 billion people still don’t have electricity for lights, refrigerators, stoves, schools, shops, hospitals and factories that would bring health, opportunity and prosperity. Yet Greenpeace continues to battle hydrocarbon, hydroelectric and nuclear power, telling people they should be content with solar panels or wind turbines that provide intermittent, insufficient energy – and guarantee sustained poverty.

It was Paul Driessen’s Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) that last December, during the farcical UN climate conference in Copenhagen, ‘unfurled a “Propaganda Warrior” banner from the rails of the Rainbow Warrior ship, and a “Ship of Lies” banner from Greenpeace’s other vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, as they lay anchored in Copenhagen harbor’.