The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

DDT and Unintended Consequences

President Obama is a true believer when it comes to anthropogenic global warming (AGW), euphemistically called “climate change” by those who treat the climate as a religion. No matter that the science remains unsettled, that a significant percentage of the core data has been manipulated in a way that is more political than scientific, that peer review has been used as a weapon to eliminate countervailing theories, that even the strongest proponent of the “science”, Phil Jones, now admits that there has been no warming in the past 14 years and that Al Gore's infamous “hockey stick graph” is not really representative of warming trends over the past 1,000 years.

The President has been stymied by resistance to Cap and Trade legislation and other carbon-taxing schemes by members of his own party. Undaunted, he has used an executive order to empower the environmental protection agency (EPA) to declare the plant food, CO2, to be a pollutant that is “dangerous to the health of humans” and begin work on crafting a blizzard (no pun intended) of regulations and penalties that will control CO2 emissions. The unintended effects on the economy during a severe economic downturn are not to be considered.

With this as a backdrop, it might be useful to consider another EPA ruling that occurred more almost 50 years ago. It was championed by Rachael Carlson in her book Silent Spring. Carlson was an environmentalist who wrote about the evils of the pesticide, DDT. “Doctor Zero” at the blog Hot Air comments:
Published in 1962, Silent Spring used manipulated data and wildly exaggerated claims (sound familiar?) to push for a worldwide ban on the pesticide known as DDT – which is, to this day, the most effective weapon against malarial mosquitoes. The Environmental Protection Agency held extensive hearings after the uproar produced by this book… and these hearings concluded that DDT should not be banned. A few months after the hearings ended, EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus over-ruled his own agency and banned DDT anyway, in what he later admitted was a “political” decision. Threats to withhold American foreign aid swiftly spread the ban across the world.

The resulting explosion of mosquito-borne malaria in Africa has claimed over sixty million lives. This was not a gradual process – a surge of infection and death happened almost immediately. The use of DDT reduces the spread of mosquito-borne malaria by fifty to eighty percent, so its discontinuation quickly produced an explosion of crippling and fatal illness. The same environmental movement which has been falsifying data, suppressing dissent, and reading tea leaves to support the global-warming fraud has studiously ignored this blood-drenched “hockey stick” for decades.

Ms. Carlson had good intentions, as do the true climate believers. But she (and they) failed to consider the unintended consequences of their religious fervor. In the case of DDT, millions died unnecessarily. In the case of CO2, it might be worth considering the unintended consequences before enacting laws, regulations, and penalties that ban its production. It would seem a prudent thing to do. Then again, true believers are rarely, if ever prudent in anything they do.