Yesterday Google had to be shamed into honoring our troops, finally putting something up towards the end of the day. This morning users of Google were greeted by a picture honoring radical environmentalist Rachel Carson, whose intellectually dishonest attacks on DDT has directly led to the deaths of tens of millions of people, mainly in the third world, from malaria.
Background on Rachel Carson:
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.” […]
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.
It is bad enough that the case against DDT was based on anecdote and innuendo, but Carson and Dunn and the regulators who banned DDT failed to consider the inadequacy of alternatives. Because it persists after spraying, DDT works far better than many pesticides now in use, many of which are just as toxic to birds, mammals, fish and other aquatic organisms. And with DDT unavailable, many mosquito-control authorities are depleting their budgets by repeated spraying with expensive, short-acting and marginally effective insecticides. […]
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. It is shocking that Dunn, an assistant professor of biology, remains ignorant of Carson’s shortcomings, and deplorable that university students are exposed to a scientist who manifests such ignorance and failure to respect the norms of science. Likewise, Nature’s decision to publish Dunn’s commentary reflects either an antiscientific bias or a failure of peer-review.
Update: Iowahawk notes: