Among the less positive developments, we can expect a number of attacks on environmentalism as supposedly helping to spread malaria and even being guilty of genocide because millions supposedly died when DDT was banned. It has long been a right wing meme. I have even heard people associated with the Competitive Enterprise Institute accuse Carson herself of being guilty of genocide, although she had died before any DDT was banned. They have a web site up arguing that her infuence led to millions of deaths.
As usually is the case with people attacking environmentalists, the lies and alsehoods outweigh the truth. the truth is very different and more interesting.
While pretty useless on issues of spirituality, the excellent site science blogs has a good a post by Tim Lambert discussing the real facts concerning DDT and malaria. Lambert discusses and links to an excellent piece in Salon by Kirsten Weir that goes into greater depth on the truth behind DDT and malaria.
As a matter of fact, Carson did not oppose all use of DDT. She wrote “”No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored,” she wrote. “It is not my contention that chemical insecticides must never be used. I contend … that we have allowed these chemicals to be used with little or no advance investigation of their effect on soil, water, wildlife, and man himself.”‘ Further, Weir’s article points out that “In fact, the decline in DDT use coincided with a drop in malaria rates.”
Jim Easter at Someareboojums provides an interesting post on DDT and malaria, concluding:
“The 1972 DDT ban did nothing to restrict the chemical’s use against malaria, but had the effect of eliminating the single most intense source of selection pressure for insecticide resistance in mosquitos. As the rest of the world followed suit in restricting agricultural use of DDT, the spread of resistance was slowed dramatically or stopped.
“By this single action, William Ruckelshaus — and, credit where it’s due, Rachel Carson — may well have saved millions of lives.”
Why is it the truth is so often the opposite of what the critics of environmentalism say?