Nene, once again more than just a crossword answer

March 26, 2014

Caption:  USFWS Refuge System ‏@USFWSRefuges -   Nene hatchings on Jas Campbell #Refuge are 1st in Hawaii in centuries http://bit.ly/1jBxFrT  pic.twitter.com/PK2l9PVa3v

Caption: USFWS Refuge System ‏@USFWSRefuges – Nene hatchings on James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge are first in [Oahu] Hawaii in centuries http://bit.ly/1jBxFrT pic.twitter.com/PK2l9PVa3v (this photo taken on Kaui, at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge). Photograph by Brenda Zaun/USFWS/Flickr Creative Commons

These great looking geese, known as Nene,  are thought to have descended from Canada geese blown off course; once they were common on many of the Hawaiian Islands, but by 1952 there were only 30 left.

Bones found on Oahu show they once thrived there.  A few birds — blown off course again, or looking for more territory? — moved to Oahu a few months ago, and have raised young.  Scientists are watching to see how it works out.

With short name featuring only two different letters, “Nene” is a popular crossword answer, and clue.  Some ornithologists half-joke that the familiarity among crossword enthusiasts was a huge aid in getting aid for the wild populations of the bird, and in getting the Endangered Species Act passed into law.

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Eagles! We reduced DDT, and the eagles recovered

January 28, 2013

Love this photo, from the great folks at Yellowstone National Park:

Chris Daniel photo of a bald eagle in Yellowstone National Park, in the snow

From the Yellowstone NP Facebook site: An adult bald eagle perched along the Firehole River on New Year’s Day, near a trumpeter swan that it had either killed or was scavenging. Adult bald eagles usually remain in or near their nest territory throughout winter provided they have access to sufficient prey. Photo courtesy of Chris Daniel. (kd)

It’s a reminder of progress we’ve made in environmental protection.

While bald eagles may not have been the most endangered animal protected under the Endangered Species Act, or any other law, they became the most famous.  In the late 18th century Congress voted to designate the bald eagle as our national symbol.  At the time, the continent was still lousy with the creatures.  But from the arrival of Europeans after 1492, eagles had been hunted mercilessly.  By the early 20th century it was clear the animal was bound for extinction, like the great auk and other species (see here for technical information on the auk).

Ben Franklin complained the eagle was a dirty carrion eater, in a smart and funny polemic favoring the American turkey as the national bird.  Franklin couldn’t know how hunting and in-breeding would suck the nobility out of even wild turkeys over the next 200 years, until species protection laws and hunters pushed governments to invigorate stocks of wild turkeys again.  Compared to the eagle’s troubles, though, the turkey’s genetic torpor and limited habitat was almost nothing.

Americans tried to save the eagle.  After 1890, and during the run on great bird feathers that excited the fashion world and led to the senseless slaughter of millions of America’s most spectacular birds, we passed a federal law against hunting and shooting eagles for sport or no reason.  It was a toothless law, and the decline of eagle populations begun in the early 16th century continued unabated. Migratory bird treaties, providing more legal heft to bird protection, didn’t help the eagles either — not enough of them crossed borders, at least not that hunters and law enforcement could see.  The Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940, kicking into action in 1941, provided teeth to eagle hunting restrictions, and hunters stopped shooting them so much.  Between 1940 and 1950, eagle populations stabilized, with a good bunch in Alaska, and a few nesting pairs spread from Oregon to Maine, Lake of the Woods to Florida Everglades.  There were so few eagles, and they were spread so far apart, that most Americans could not see one without major effort and travel.

Bird watchers noticed trouble in the 1950s.  Young eagles stopped showing up for the Audubon Christmas bird count, and at the Hawk Mountain migration counts.  Adults went through the motions, migrating, hunting, building nests, laying eggs for all anyone knew, and hatching young that had been seen, sometimes, to fledge — but then the young birds died.  Between leaving the nest, and returning to mate up and breed, the young birds simply disappeared.

Research showed deeper trouble.  On careful observation the birds were seen to be frustrated in hatching and raising chicks.  Sometimes the eggs wouldn’t hatch.  If they did hatch, the chicks died.  The few who lived to fly out, died soon after.

Rachel Carson called attention to the trouble in her 1962 claxon call on pesticide and chemical pollution, Silent Spring (50 years ago in 2012).

Doctor Science at Obsidian Wings wrote a paean to seeing bald eagles in the wild, with a brief and kind mention of this blog. You should go read it there.

Protecting birds?  The Steve Milloys, CEIs, AEIs, Heritage Foundations, CATO Institutes and other dens of smug cynicism and bad citizenship have it all wrong.  It’s not about power for environmentalists.  It’s nothing so cheap or mean.  Heck.  Often it’s not even about protecting the birds so much.

It’s about protecting our own dreams, and places we have to inspire those dreams.  Frederick Jackson Turner postulated that there is something mystical and magical in a frontier that helped form the American character and make us hard-working, smart, and noble.  He was right, of course.  Those frontiers are not simply frontiers of settlement in the wilderness anymore.  We have to work to find them, to declare Alaska the “Last Frontier,” or government reform and Cold War enterprise as the “New Frontier.”  But we still need frontiers.

Eagles still soar there.  Wherever eagles soar, in fact, we find those frontiers, those places to dream and inspire.  The Endangered Species Act isn’t about saving animals and plants.  It’s about saving our own souls.

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More misunderstanding of the case against DDT

December 21, 2011

Well-meaning but misinformed dog breeder Terrierman (a guy who goes by the handle PBurns, too)  is just the latest to fall victim to false and nearly false claims about DDT and its effects on birds.

One of the claims made by pro-DDT and anti-environmental protection, anti-science groups is that DDT is not the bad guy in bird deaths.  The late DDT-nut Gordon Edwards said DDT had nothing to do with eagle deaths, and pointed to the 300-year decline in eagle populations from the time European settlers began shooting at them.  This idea has been touted by the chief junk science purveyor, Steven Milloy, and by many others over the years.

So, in one of his several posts slamming eagle conservation efforts that include stopping the use of DDT, Terrierman said:

What’s the story? Simple: that Bald Eagles and Osprey were pushed to the edge of extinction by DDT.

Not True.

Actually, that is true.  Terrierman got it wrong.  DDT was, indeed, threatening the very existence of the bald eagle.  While it is true that there were other pressures, some long-standing, it is also true that once those problems were cleared, DDT still barred the recovery of the eagle, plus other species like osprey, peregrine falcons, and brown pelicans.

What is the story?  The story is that eagles have been under assault since Europeans found America.  By 1900, eagle populations across North America were dramatically and drastically reduced.  A federal law in 1918 made it illegal to shoot eagles, but it had little effect.  A tougher law passed in 1940 finally got some traction.

But eagle recovery didn’t take off.  In the late 1940s and early 1950s bird watchers, and bird counters like those volunteers who contribute to the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, noticed that young eagles disappeared.  Simply, adult, breeding eagles were not able to produce young who survived to migrate, mature, and breed later.

The culprit was DDT.  DDT kills young eagles in three ways, known in the 1960s.  It poisons them so they cannot grow in the egg.  It poisons them so they die after a period of growth.  It poisons them so they are unable to eat and digest properly, so they die shortly after they hatch.

DDT can also screw up the sexual organs of young birds, so they are unable to breed — perhaps a fourth way DDT kills young, by simply preventing their creation.

Then, in the 1970s, we found another way DDT kills species:  DDT makes the eagle hens unable to form competent eggshells.  The young die because the eggs cannot survive incubation.

DDT also kills adult eagles, especially migrating birds.  DDT accumulates in fat tissues, those fats that migrating birds burn.  When the birds migrate, the DDT comes out, and it can literally stop the heart or brain of the bird in flight.  (It kills bats the same way.)  Birds lost in migration rarely get found for necropsy.   The bird count simply falls, the population sinks one individual closer to extinction.

Does the dog breeder know all of this?  I can’t tell — I tried to correct his errors at his blog site, but after I provided a link to an article that showed DDT appears to be harming California condors as well — in a post he has censored in moderation and which will never see the light of day at Terrierman, I predict — it’s clear he’s not up to gentle correction.

One more blog from which I am banned from telling the facts.

PBurns, if you’re bold enough to comment here, your comments won’t be censored (so long as not profane).  We need robust discussion, and I encourage it.

Below the fold — my final post to Terrierman, which he won’t allow through moderation.

Read the rest of this entry »


Plan to save the spotted owls

August 2, 2011

A lawyer complains in the Wall Street Journal that the plan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) intended to help the endangered spotted owl should be dismissed because, well, the spotted owl is still endangered, and after all, didn’t the spotted owl personally shut down the entire lumber industry in the Northwest?

Well, no, the owl didn’t shut down the mills.

But before we discuss, can we at least read the shorthand version of what USFWS has to say?  Here’s the press release on the plan:

Plan Marks New Route for Recovering Northern Spotted Owl and Promoting Healthy Northwest Forests

Contact:
Janet Lebson
503-231-6179
janet_lebson@fws.gov


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released a final revised recovery plan for the threatened northern spotted owl, stepping up actions that so far have helped stem but not reverse the old-growth forest raptor’s decline. The revised plan identifies three main priorities for achieving spotted owl recovery:  protecting the best of its remaining habitat, actively managing forests to improve forest health, and reducing competition from barred owls, a native of eastern North America that has progressively moved into the spotted owl’s range in Washington, Oregon, and northern California.

“For more than 20 years, northern spotted owl recovery has been a focal point of broader forest conservation efforts in the Pacific Northwest,” said Robyn Thorson, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Northwest Regional Director. “This revised recovery plan is based on sound science and affirms that the best things we can do to help the spotted owl turn the corner are conserving its habitat, managing the barred owl, and restoring vitality to our forests.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will use the recovery plan to work with land managers in the Pacific Northwest such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, as well as other federal and non-federal landowners, to advise them on habitat management activities that can benefit the spotted owl and contribute to improved forest health.

Because about 20 million acres of U.S. Forest Service lands and about 2 million acres of Bureau of Land Management lands are potentially affected by recovery plan recommendations, the three agencies worked together on key recommendations related to forest management. Both agencies provided formal letters of support for the plan’s recovery goals.

“This recovery plan is a welcome update to the state of the science surrounding the northern spotted owl,” said Cal Joyner, Deputy Regional Forester for the Pacific Northwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service. “The plan will help us implement a mix of actively managing and protecting habitat to best contribute to conservation and recovery.”

“The recovery plan provides space to develop ecological forestry principles and to actively manage our public forests to achieve the twin goals of improving ecological conditions and supplying timber,” said Ed Shepard, Oregon/Washington State Director for the Bureau of Land Management. “We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the Fish and Wildlife Service as we put the science from the recovery plan to work in our planning, in evaluating proposed timber projects, and in improving forest health.”

Overarching recommendations in the revised plan include:

  • Conservation of spotted owl sites and high-value spotted owl habitat across the landscape. This means the habitat protections provided under land use plans on federal land will continue to be a focus of recovery, but protection of other areas is likely needed to achieve full success (including some of the lands previously slated for potential timber harvest on federal lands, and possibly non-federal lands in certain parts of the owl’s range where federal lands are limited).
  • Active management of forests to make forest ecosystems healthier and more resilient to the effects of climate change and catastrophic wildfire, disease, and insect outbreaks. This involves an “ecological forestry” approach in certain areas that will restore ecosystem functioning and resiliency. This may include carefully applied prescriptions such as fuels treatment to reduce the threat of severe fires, thinning, and restoration to enhance habitat and return the natural dynamics of a healthy forest landscape. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends this approach in areas where it promotes ecosystem function and is in the best long-term interest of spotted owl recovery. The agency also strongly affirms adaptive management principles to continually evaluate and refine active forest management techniques.
  • Management of the encroaching barred owl to reduce harm to spotted owls. Most of the recovery actions the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has carried out since finalizing the spotted owl’s 2008 recovery plan deal with the barred owl threat. A major part of this is developing a proposal for experimental removal of barred owls in certain areas to see what effect that would have on spotted owls, and then to evaluate whether or not broad scale removal should be considered. This portion of the 2008 plan was not significantly revised.

“While the new recovery plan has been refined and improved from the 2008 version, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues to implement the most important recommendations,” said Acting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould. “We have begun to address the barred owl threat, improved survey protocols, and developed incentives for private landowners to voluntarily participate in recovery actions. We look forward to expanding conservation partnerships to contribute to the spotted owl’s recovery.”

Since the northern spotted owl was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 21 years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and recovery partners are benefitting from far more information on what factors most affect its survival and productivity. This includes a broader body of scientific knowledge on the species itself and forest ecosystem dynamics — including variables such as climate change and the role of natural disturbances such as wildfire. Recovery partners also are taking advantage of new science and technology to develop more precise tools for analyzing how different strategies can contribute to recovery.

In addition, land managers have made significant strides in advancing active forest management techniques to promote the health and resilience of forest ecosystems. The recovery plan emphasizes the concept of adaptive management to apply new knowledge and science to those techniques on an ongoing basis. This is a more mainstream approach today than in 1994 when the Northwest Forest Plan was created to address the needs of several forest-dependent species, including the spotted owl, and the region’s timber industry.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a final recovery plan specific to the spotted owl for the first time in 2008. As the agency and recovery partners moved forward in implementing many recommendations in the 2008 plan, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated a targeted scientific revision to some portions of that plan after facing legal challenges and critical reviews from leading scientific organizations in the conservation community.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tapped the knowledge and perspectives of public and private sector experts over the last two years in developing this revised plan, the draft of which was released in September 2010. The agency held more than 30 workshops and meetings with public and private partners throughout the spotted owl’s range to share information, evaluate options, and incorporate valuable input during the revised plan’s development. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accepted public comments on the draft revised plan for a 90-day period and received more than 11,700 comments. In April 2011, the agency released an updated Appendix C, relating to a new habitat modeling tool, for an additional 30-day public comment period and received about 20 public comments.

The revised recovery plan does not include recommendations from the 2008 plan for a new habitat conservation network of “Managed Owl Conservation Areas.” Rather than creating a potentially confusing new land classification, the plan identifies the scientific rationale and parameters for habitat protection and will revise the spotted owl’s designated critical habitat to reflect the latest scientific information about areas essential for the owl’s recovery. Identifying this habitat through the critical habitat process — as the ESA intended — will be more efficient and provide land managers and the public with additional opportunities for review and comment.

For a recovery timeline, Frequently Asked Questions, related information, and the recovery plan itself, visit www.fws.gov/oregonfwo.

America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Service’s Endangered Species program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

-FWS-

Stay tuned for the response, and my response to the response.

_____________

Oooooh, bonus!  Story in the Daily Astorian says saving the spotted owl habitat also ties up carbon, helping out with the fight against global warming.


Debunking Junk Science’s hoax “100 Things You Should Know About DDT”: #14, William Ruckelshaus’s bias

February 17, 2011

Another in a continuing series, showing the errors in JunkScience.com’s list of “100 things you should know about DDT.” (No, these are not in order.) In the summer of 2009, the denialists have trotted this error out again.

At the astonishingly truthfully-named site “Junk Science,” Steven Milloy creates a series of hoaxes with a page titled “100 things you should know about DDT.”  It is loaded with hoaxes about DDT, urging its use, and about Rachel Carson, and about EPA and the federal regulation of DDT, and about malaria and DDT’s role in the ambitious but ill-fated campaign to eradicate malaria operated by the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1955, officially until 1969.  Milloy knows junk science, and he dishes it out with large ladles.

Among what must be 100 errors, Milloy makes this claim, I suppose to suggest that William Ruckelshaus was biased when Rickelshaus headed the Environmental Protection Agency:

14.  William Ruckelshaus, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who made the ultimate decision to ban DDT in 1972, was a member of the Environmental Defense Fund. Ruckelshaus solicited donations for EDF on his personal stationery that read “EDF’s scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had cleared, EDF had won.”

This is a false statement on Milloy’s site.  After finding no credible source for the claim that Ruckelshaus was ever affiliated with EDF in any way, I contacted Ruckelshaus’s office, and got confirmation that Ruckelshaus was not and never has been affiliated with EDF.  It should be a clue that this claim appears only at sites who impugn Ruckelshaus for his action in banning DDT use in U.S. agriculture.

 

Junk Science's oddly apt logo and slogan

Hiding the truth in plain view: Junk Science is a site that promotes junk science, an unintended flash of honesty at a site that otherwise promotes hoaxes about science. Note the slogan. Does this site cover its hoaxes by stating plainly that it promotes "all the junk science that's fit to debunk?"

It is also highly unlikely that he ever wrote a fund-raising letter for the group, certainly not while he was a public official.  The implicit claim of Junk Science.com, that William Ruckelshaus was not a fair referee in the DDT case, is a false claim.

I asked Milloy to correct errors at his site, and he has steadfastly refused.

Here is what Milloy’s point #14 would say, with the falsehoods removed:

14.  William Ruckelshaus [was] the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who made the ultimate decision to ban DDT in 1972[.], was a member of the Environmental Defense Fund. Ruckelshaus solicited donations for EDF on his personal stationery that read “EDF’s scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had cleared, EDF had won.”

Below the fold:  William D. Ruckelshaus’s “official” biography, if you call him today, February 17, 2011.  You should note, there is no mention of any work with EDF.

Read the rest of this entry »


Adventures in Condor land: Moonrise over Hopper Ranch

June 8, 2010

Moon over Hopper Ranch, by Amanda Holland

Moon over Hopper Ranch, by Amanda Holland

Kathryn’s cousin Amanda Holland writes from her great adventure helping to rescue the California Condor, with this photo of the Moon, behind clouds and haze, over the mountains, from Hopper Ranch.

Here’s where I feel the pangs of leaving biology behind for rhetoric, then politics and law.  Probably the best part of research in biology was the places one had to go.  The best adventures involve getting to and back from the places researchers must go to get data or samples.

And now, with electronic cameras and cards that will easily accommodate 1,000 photos, images are easy to capture.

Some of the images I wish I could get back:  Moonrise over Shiprock*; the rattlesnake who liked to hide in the equipment box at the New Mexico Agriculture Experiment Station; the field of asparagus at the Experiment Station, poking up through the desert for the first time (I wonder if they decided to grow asparagus); thunderstorms at Shiprock and over Kimberly, New Mexico; sunrise in Huntington Canyon, Utah; looking nearly into Nevada through crystal air after a summer thunderstorm near Seeley Mountain.  There are a lot more, really.

Adventures past: We remember them warmly.  Getting out in the wild, doing the hard, grunt work necessary to learn about endangered species, or save them, or just improve conservation practices, is close to godliness, and among the greatest pleasures life can offer.

More:

  • See this photo of Shiprock and Moon, probably by a photography named William Stone; this photo of Shiprock and storm, by Radeka, is good, too; at one time my job was to drive from Farmington, New Mexico, past the Shiprock everyday, to get air pollution samples.  The Shiprock rivals Mt. Timpanogos in my personal pantheon of great mountains I grew up with.

Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds poisoned by DDT

May 24, 2010

You can read about it here, at Instapundit.

Reynolds wants DDT back because dengue fever showed up at Key West.  News for Reynolds:  We see it in Texas all the time, but usually among poorer people with Hispanic heritage who live along the Rio Grande.  (Funny how these conservative nutballs all worry about people, so long as they’re white, and rich enough to travel to tropical vacation spots; where’s Reynolds to worry about the people who supply his fruits and vegetables?)

One solution:  Improve health care to cure humans with dengue, and then mosquitoes that spread it have no pool of infection to draw from — mosquito bites become just mosquito bites.

Other preventives:  Drain mosquito breeding areas (tires, flower pots, potholes, etc.) within 50 yards of human habitation.  Mosquitoes don’t fly far, and if they can’t breed where people are, they won’t travel to find human victims.

Stupid, destructive solutions:  Spray DDT.  DDT kills insects, bats and birds that prey on mosquitoes much more effectively than it kills mosquitoes, and mosquitoes evolve resistance faster, and rebreed faster. DDT is especially deadly against brown pelicans — maybe Reynolds figures we don’t need to worry about them any more, since they’re under assault from the oil slick that threatens to kill the estuaries of Louisiana.  Were he concerned about the birds, surely he’d have realized his error, right?

So, why did Glenn Reynolds get stupid about DDT?  Why is he promoting DDT, instead of promoting ways to fight dengue?

____________

But, then, Glenn Reynolds has been a fool for poisoning (anyone but himself) for a long time:

_____________

United Conservatives of Virginia swallow the DDT poison, too.  Don’t these people ever study history?

Help Glenn Reynolds recover from DDT poisoning, let others know the facts:

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Sage grouse non-listing: USDA offers $16 million to protect the birds

March 17, 2010

Remember the sage grouse? People groused because the U.S. Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service determined most populations of western sage grouse are threatened enough to earn listing as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act — but then refused to list the bird, because other plants and animals are even more threatened, and need attention sooner.  (I was one of those people complaining.)

It’s a new administration.  U.S. Department of Agriculture offered $16 million for projects to protect the bird’s habitat.  This ruling put increased pressure on state wildlife agencies, in an interesting if not unique twist of the issue of federalism, state vs. federal responsibility for wildlife and wild lands.  Wyoming wants $3 million right away, for projects mostly on private land.

In other words, the administration will sometimes find ways to do the right thing without doing the most difficult or controversial thing.  Ranchers and energy developers cheered by original decision are also happy about Ag’s proposed spending.  Environmentalists unhappy with the first ruling shouled be cheered by Ag’s action, too.  State agencies that worked hard to make the case for listing the bird may be cheered, also.

Sage grouse habitat threatened by deveolopment, in Nevada - Las Vega Sun graphic

Sage grouse habitat threatened by deveolopment, in Nevada - Las Vega Sun graphic

Readers of the Las Vegas Sun learned about the program last week – the Sun has covered the sage grouse as part of its coverage of alternative energy programs.  Much sage grouse habitat in Nevada overlaps wind energy and geothermal energy development zones.

Ranchers across the west are being offered millions of dollars in aid from the federal government to make their operations more environmentally sustainable and reduce their impact on the sage grouse the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today.

“USDA will take bold steps to ensure the enhancement and preservation of sage grouse habitat and the sustainability of working ranches and farms in the western United States,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “Our targeted approach will seek out projects that offer the highest potential for boosting sage-grouse populations and enhancing habitat quality.”

The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will soon begin accepting applications for two federal programs aimed at reducing threats to the birds such as disease and invasive species and improving sage-grouse habitat. The agency will have up to $16 million at its disposal for the programs.

The Wilderness Habitat Incentive Program provides up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to create and improve fish and wildlife habitat on private and tribal land.

Sage grouse face a difficult future.  State wildlife management agencies face a tough future, too, in trying to save the birds.  The nation needs energy resources found, often, where the sage grouse need lands to meet, mate and raise their young.  It’s a difficult balancing act.

More information:


For sage grouse, not a nickel’s difference between Bush and Obama

March 9, 2010

Sage grouse don’t vote. If they did vote, they’d have a difficult time picking between Democrats and Republicans on their own life and death issues.

Of course, there aren’t enough sage grouse to make much of a difference on election day. That’s the problem.

Courting sage grouse - Gail Patricelli, UC-Davis

Courting sage grouse - Photo from Gail Patricelli, University of California - Davis

Last week the U.S. Department of the Interior released a decision on the fate of the sage grouse:  Near enough to extinction to merit protection under the Endangered Species Act, but too far down the list of endangered plants and animals to merit action on anything at the moment.

That means that the vanishing habitats of the little, magnificent bird, can be crushed by trucks making tracks across westerns prairies, deserts and mountains searching for oil.

Exxon-Mobil 1, Sage Grouse 0.  One might must hope that’s an early game score, and not the population counts.

Jim Tankersly explained the situation, more dispassionately, in The Los Angeles Times:

Reporting from Washington — The Interior Department declared Friday that an iconic Western bird deserves federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, but declined to offer that protection immediately — a split decision that will allow oil and gas drilling to continue across large swaths of the mountainous West.

The department issued a so-called “warranted but precluded” designation for the greater sage grouse, meaning that the bird merits protection but won’t receive it for now because other species are a higher priority.

My childhood was marked by rapidly plummeting bird populations all around us.  Stopping the use of DDT benefited some of them, the Endangered Species Act benefited others.  Conservation efforts of groups like Ducks Unlimited and the Audubon Society saved others, and helped all of them.  While I lived near a great river, a view of a heron, egret or crane is not what I recall from my childhood.  Our children know the birds well.

Land birds, like turkeys, are even more rare.  Turkeys, mostly in eastern forested areas, at least well out of the Mountain West, made dramatic recoveries with massive aid from state game commissions.  I recall one column from the Washington Post’s recently retired hunting and outdoors columnist, Angus Phillips, in which he confessed that with the aid of professional guides paid from the paper’s expense accounts, in more than 15 years of hunting he had heard, but never seen, a wild turkey. This was two weeks after we had come upon a flock just off the side of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the first I’d ever seen.

I remembered Phillips’ confession a few months later as I sat in the cold, at dawn, in a field at the Land Between the Lakes preserve of the Tennessee Valley Authority with other staff and members of the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors, when a guide summoned seven magnificent, lustful wild turkey toms to race across a field toward the lustful hen sounds the guide made with a part of a birth control diaphragm as a calling device.

In my years tramping the west for fun, in the months camping with the Scouts, in the professional tramping with the Air Pollution Lab and the Senate and the Utah Wilderness Commission, and just for fun, I’ve never seen a sage grouse.

Whether my children get such an opportunity, and their children, is a decision for the moment left to private interests, especially private groups with a financial stake in trampling out the nestings where the youth of grouse are grown.

Exxon-Mobil, will you and your colleagues go easy on the grouse, please?

More:


Tracks on the beach, footprints in the sand

January 30, 2010

Maybe not the tracks you expected — pulse quickening, all the same:

Grizzly bear tracks, Sithylemenkat Lake, Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska - photo by Steve Hillebrand USFWS, public domain

Grizzly bear tracks, Sithylemenkat Lake, Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska - August 2006 photo by Steve Hillebrand USFWS, public domain


Climate change, and DDT: Monckton’s inconvenient and inaccurate history

December 31, 2009

Oh, Christopher Monckton raves on, and gullible or horribly ignorant journalists let him.  Maybe Michael Coren is both gullible and horribly ignorant.

Monckton’s grotesque errors of history suggest that he’s probably wrong on the science, too, considering that his studies were in the classics, and not science.  If he can’t get stuff right in his area of expertise, it’s almost impossible that he’d be right far afield.

I don’t know Coren’s other work, but the way he turned his microphone over to Monckton in the interview below is disturbing, with no challenge given to wild flights of imagination Monckton took, posed as history.  The Kennedy administration wasn’t that long ago; Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring had a 40th anniversary edition that is still on the shelves.  Bald eagles, the national bird of the United States, climbed off the endangered species list just a few months ago with accompanying dozens of news stories that explained DDT had nearly wiped the species out.

Coren slept through all of that?  Monckton thought no one would remember the accurate history?

Monckton’s appearance on Michael Coren’s program on CTS (a Canadian network) obnoxiously slapped my browser.  You may recall I had checked out Monckton’s speech to an unquestioning group of students at a religious college in Minnesota.  At about the same time, he showed up on Coren’s program, saying much of the same things he’d said earlier in Minnesota.

Have you ever interviewed a truly pathological liar?  Hoaxsters tell falsehoods, and the truly pathological ones keep exaggerating as they tell, testing the waters to see how much the audience will believe.  I think Monckton is one of those.

Consequently, the falsehoods grow grander as the hoaxster finds the audience gullibly lapping up the milk of human imagination.

Take this example, Monckton in part 5 of his interview comedy routine with Coren.  Coren doesn’t question any of the confabulations Monckton comes up with, apparently having been born after 1975 and never read much history of science or the enviornmental movement, and apparently having somehow missed the dozens of news stories in recent years on the recovery and removal from the Endangered Species List of the bald eagle and brown pelican, and recovery of osprey and peregrine falcons (does Canada have Google?  does Coren know how to use it?  does Coren have no producer, no fact checkers?)

Nor, apparently, does Monckton have any ability to control his ability to say patently offensive and absolutely impossible things to blame others.  Monckton blames Jackie Kennedy for killing 40 million kids with malaria; never mind that he’s wrong, he pushes on to call President Jack Kennedy “her foolish husband;” never mind that he’s got all his facts wrong, he proceeds to call William Ruckleshaus “an environmental nincompoop”:

[At 2:50 of the video]

LORD MONCKTON: I think it is particularly sad that what is essentially a scientific question has been politicized.  In Britain it’s different.  All parties have sort of gone along with the bedwetting theory.  They’ve all said, “Oh, yes!  We’re doomed!”

The Conservative Party — which is nominally the right-wing party, though now it’s kind of center-left, really — it has come out and said — in fact it has produced the stupidest document on climate change that I’ve ever seen, it’s even stupider than Al Gore’s film; it’s unbelievable how half-witted it is.  It isn’t universal that it’s right-left.

Certainly it is true to say that the left are more enthusiastic about this, worldwide, than anyone else.

But, you see, then, they’ve got it wrong before.  Let’s take the DDT example, where 41 years ago, Jackie Kennedy read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.  And the thesis of this book was that because of DDT and other chemicals we were pouring into the atmosphere, the world was going to be so grossly polluted that every species other than humankind would die, and then eventually we would die, too.  And it was all going to be terrible.

From where did Monckton get the idea that Jackie Kennedy read Carson’s book, and that she initiated action? Famously, President Kennedy took a question about DDT in one of his popular afternoon press conferences.  He said he had read the book, and that he was looking into it.

President Kennedy did in fact task his science advisers to check out the book.  The President’s Science Advisory Council (PSAC) reported on May 15, 1963.  They said Carson’s book was accurate, and that the government should act immediately to investigate harms from synthetic chemicals including DDT.

Carson didn’t write anything about ‘pouring chemicals into the atmosphere.’  One of the great concerns among wildlife biologists was the damage done in water — where, it turned out, DDT was quickly absorbed into all living things, which then multiplied the dosages of DDT several million times as it climbed up the trophic ladder (food chains).  The problem with DDT is that it doesn’t go into the air, or water, but is instead rapidly absorbed by living tissue.  DDT sprayed in an estuary is taken up by first-level producers, including zooplankton, phytoplankton and plants, as well as any other creature that happens by.  As these producers are consumed by creatures higher up the food chain, the dosage multiplies geometrically.

Carson didn’t whine as Monckton claims she did.  She coolly and calmly laid out the facts.  The facts were, and are, that DDT and its sister compounds pose serious dangers to living things.

And Jackie Kennedy read this, and shivered, and plucked at the sleeve of her husband — who was then President of the United States — and said:  “Look.  You’ve got to do something about this!  We’ve got to save the planet from DDT!”

Isn’t that a remarkable coincidence?  Jackie Kennedy’s husband was president of the United States! He always had such cute cuffs to tug on, too.  Monckton’s infantilizing the First Lady and President of the U.S. lacks the charm Monckton must think it adds.

Jackie Kennedy was a smart and capable woman, a journalist who went on to a long and successful career as an editor at a major publishing house.  Monckton’s disparaging of Mrs. Kennedy here is uncalled for, untoward, and ugly — and factually wrong.

I’m sure that if the president’s wife told him to look into an issue, he did.  She was not in the habit of being frivolous or silly.  There is film of President Kennedy at a press conference, being asked by a reporter if there is any official reaction on Carson’s book (hardly the pillow-side sleeve tug Monckton imagines); and anyone can check the presidential papers to see the report from the science advisors.  As we know now, Carson was right.  The Nobel winners  and others on the PSAC agreed.  Incidentally, they won their Nobels for hard research, not by writing letters to the editor of an publication from an organization that won a Nobel and then getting a sycophant to manufacture a replica Nobel, as Monckton claims with his dime-store “Nobel pin” (like a man whose mother refused to buy a deputy sheriff star for his cowboy games).

In his efforts to make the story entertainingly memorable, Monckton gives us the equivalent of passed gas in a crowded elevator.

But, Dear Reader — Dear God! — brace yourself:

And so Kennedy appointed a friend of his who was an environmental nincompoop, to take charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.

How can we know Monckton is lying? Well, John Kennedy died in November 1963.  The Environmental Protection Agency took form seven years later, in the administration of Richard Nixon, the man Kennedy defeated for the presidency in 1960.  John Kennedy was dead, and his younger brother suffered assassination, too.  Monckton’s English — U.S. history is not his forte.

So, EPA did not exist in John Kennedy’s life.  Unless Monckton claims Kennedy came back from the grave and wrested the pen from Nixon’s hand, it would have been impossible for Kennedy to appoint anyone to be in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.

To whom is Monckton referring as director?  William Ruckelshaus, the old Republican political operator?  Monckton’s slip of the grip on history is so severe that it can’t be restored.  He’s so far out in fantasy land it’s difficult to tell.

But let’s take the next line:

Result:  Unfortunately; they banned DDT.

Ruckelshaus was Director of EPA when DDT was banned.  Ruckelshaus signed the documents.  Monckton could only be referring to Ruckelshaus.  To make his case for DDT, Monckton must bend time and all of politics.

And then, Monckton, of all people, refers to Ruckelshaus as a “nincompoop.” Um, Monck, this is one of the heroes of the Saturday Night Massacre, one of America’s better lawyers of that time or any time, a committed man of reason and solid environmental credentials.  If Ruckelshaus is an environmental nincompoop, Monckton is a lobotomized environmental pisant with a bad attitude.  (Regardless whatever he may be, Monckton has a bad attitude.)

We confront the reality here that Monckton is not engaging in any discussion about science, where simple facts of history got wrong can be subject to swift and gracious correction.  He’s off in Faux Propagandaland, making up nasty things to say as he bulldozes through the facts and truth, pushing them out of the way of his rant.  Facts, history and science be damned!, Monckton froths.  This is a crusade against the evils of socialism, and Monckton will carry on the war even when there are no socialists and no evil!  So what if they are not socialists!  Monckton will label them so and that will be that!

Oy.  Monckton’s so far out in left field at Wrigley that he’s in the bar across the street.

This was copied worldwide, because the left got going.  “Aha! We can show who’s boss!  We can ban DDT!”

Nope, sorry.  Sweden banned DDT, and then the U.S. banned DDT from use around babies, and then in 1972 the U.S. banned use of DDT in agriculture.  Most European nations eventually followed with tighter regulations.  History shows, however, that DDT was never banned in most of the world.  In the U.S., sadly, DDT manufacture for export continued until 1984 (to the day before the enactment of the Superfund bill), and DDT manufacture continues today in India and China.

Not only did the left not ban DDT around the world, no one did.

Not content to merely rape history and stuff its bloody body in a garbage can, Monckton then invents a whole new class of evil for environmentalists to do:

And of course a lot of them were in league with people who were producing chemicals other than DDT, which they wanted to replace, so they were making money out of it the usual — unfortunately the usual money-packed story, and inglorious story.

Got that?  He says Kennedy, though dead for nearly a decade, conspired to ban DDT so he could get kickbacks from companies who manufactured competing pesticides. And so did Ruckelshaus, one of the few men who stood up to Richard Nixon and refused to fire Archibald Cox.  Monckton says Ruckelshaus was crooked, and taking kickbacks from chemical companies.

So, they banned DDT.  Now, DDT is, in fact, safe enough you can eat it by the tablespoonful — I wouldn’t recommend that, but you can do that, it won’t hurt you if you do.  It’s completely harmless to humans.  It’s completely harmless to birdlife and animals.

In 1975 a committee of the House of Representatives asked for a history of EPA.  Among other topics, the DDT restrictions were discussed — here’s a 312-page document showing which harms were of greatest concern, and what was the science that backed the analysis of those harms.  It’s 312 pages that Monckton hopes you will never read.  He probably hopes it doesn’t even exist anymore.

By 1975 all the harms of DDT worried about by Rachel Carson 13 years before had been confirmed, with the slightly happy news that DDT is not a potent human carcinogen, but a weak one.

The only thing it’s harmful to is the anopheles mosquito, which is the vector that carries the falciparum parasite that causes malaria.  And to the aedes egyptii mosquito, which carries the yellow fever parasite.  It’s fatal — and really fatal — to both of them.

DDT acutely kills fish, birds and bats.  Had Monckton done his research, he’d have seen the plea from the U.S. Army to keep DDT available for poisoning bats in old, dilapidated barracks.  (EPA did not keep that use.)  DDT manufacturers bragged about how deadly the stuff was, in trying to make a case that it should be left on the market for unrestricted use.  40 years later, wild populations of bats are beginning to recover from collateral poisoning from DDT.  Bats fall into that branch of the animal kingdom known as mammals, where humans also fall.  Generally, if a poison is toxic to one mammal, it will be toxic to all others if dose is altered to consider body mass.  But also, if a substance is carcinogenic to one mammal, it will be cancer-causing to other mammals, too.

In mosquito control DDT is problematic.   It kills mosquitoes, but it also kills all other small creatures.  Especially, it kills those things that prey on mosquitoes — other insects, birds and arachnids, fish and small animals especially.  Since mosquitoes recover from DDT rather quickly, and predators take much longer to recover, this means an outdoor dose of DDT will result in a dramatic population explosion of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in a few weeks, as the mosquitoes recover more quickly than their predators do.

Monckton appears to think DDT is selective to mosquitoes.  DDT is a broad-scale killer, not selective in any way we know.

And the guy who invented it, who was German, got the Nobel Prize, because before DDT was introduced, a million people a year around the world, nearly all of them children, were dying of malaria.  It was one of the biggest killers.

Paul Muller won the Nobel in Medicine in 1948 for discovering that DDT kills insects.  But he was not the guy who invented the stuff more than 50 years earlier. Once again, where it’s easy to check facts, Monckton just doesn’t get the facts straight.

Before DDT was introduced, and for a long time thereafter, malaria killed about three million people annually.  When WHO conducted its eradication campaign, malaria deaths fell to about two million per year by the middle 1960s.  Once DDT use in that campaign was stopped, malaria death rates continued to fall to about a million a year today.  Malaria incidence and deaths rose in the 1980s when the malaria parasites themselves developed resistance to medicines used to treat and cure malaria in humans.

The chief barrier to lower malaria infection rates is education on barriers against mosquito exposure.  The chief barrier to lower malaria death totals is the development and delivery of pharmaceuticals to treat infected humans.  DDT is a panacea in neither theatre.

DDT came along and deaths fell to 50,000.

Monckton is flat out wrong.  He’s off by a factor of 20.  He’s making this stuff up.

We were on the point of wiping it out.

Flat out wrong again.  The World Health Organization (WHO) undertook a very ambitious program to eradicate malaria in the 1950s.  By the mid-1960s it was clear the program could not work:  In Africa, overuse of DDT (in agriculture) bred mosquitoes resistant to and immune to DDT.  Worse, in most of Subsaharan Africa, governments were not stable enough to have the discipline required to mount an effective campaign against the disease, knocking down the insect carriers briefly, then furiously treating humans with the disease so that when the mosquitoes returned there would be no pool of human infection from which to draw the disease.  This is all detailed in one of those fascinating New Yorker profiles of the legendary Fred Soper, by Macolm Gladwell.  For most of the world, we’ve never been to the point of wiping out malaria, and in those places where we’ve been successful in wiping out the disease, DDT was not the chief weapon.

When the left got in on the act — it’s exactly the same people:  the Environmental Defense Fund — you know — people who have got hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank!  Goodness knows where they get it from!  Foreign governments, possibly!  I don’t know!  I haven’t looked.  But it’s certainly an alarming question:  Are the environmental movements being backed by China or India so they won’t have to compete with us for natural resources because we will have shut our industry down.  It’s a question that the security services, I hope, are looking at, because it certainly worries me.

Monckton at his most scurrilous, and most distant from the facts.  Are environmental groups funded by China?  No.  In any case, the environmental groups don’t have nearly the funding of the pro-DDT groups, with their corporate funds. While we’re thinking about it, we should think about which side China would intervene on, were China to follow through on its historic reluctance to do anything about global warming.  Who is running around the world claiming we need to do nothing, and should do nothing?  Christopher Monckton.

If Monckton is worried about who is funding him, I’m sure the CIA and FBI would be happy to let him tell them about his well of money  he uses to frustrate the United Nations and treaty obligation of a hundred nations.  (Bill Dembski?  Are you still alive?  Why don’t you turn Monckton in — you’ve still got the number of Homeland Security, don’t you?)

Perhaps most egregious, or most funny, is this:  Environmental Defense has been a leader among all agencies, governmental and NGO, to urge the extremely limited use of DDT in indoor residual spraying - and yet, they are the one group Monckton complains about.

It’s a wonder to me that Monckton can figure out which part of his foot goes into his shoes first, in the mornings.  He has such a flair for getting the facts exactly wrong, and then getting into a dudgeon about his own error.  Monckton:  Not only wrong, but 180 degrees precisely wrong.

But there was the Environmental Defense Fund, and it came in and said, “Right, we’re going to press for a ban on DDT.” They succeeded.

The number of deaths went back up, from 50,000 a year to a million a year, and it stayed there for 40 years, while the likes of me were saying, “This is killing millions.  It ought to be stopped.  What on Earth is the World Health Organization doing?”

And eventually, just three years ago, on the 15th of September, 2006, Dr. Arata Kochi of the World Health Organization said, “Right.”  He said, “In this field, politics usually predominates.  Now we are going to take a stand on the science and the data.”  He ended the ban on DDT and declared that once again it would be the frontline of defense against the mosquito.

DDT has never been banned in most of the world — especially not in Africa.  WHO never banned DDT, they simply stopped using it when it ceased to be effective. Plus, you’ll recall from just a few paragraphs above, Environmental Defense (formerly EDF)  led the campaign to get DDT restored to use in IRS campaigns in Africa.

Monckton’s game is worse than blaming the messenger — he’s blaming the heroes.

COREN:  40 million people died . . .

MONCKTON:  Children!

COREN:   . . . because Jackie Kennedy read a silly book.

MONCKTON:  Yep.

COREN:   . . . and her foolish husband bought into it.

So, Coren’s bought Moncktons rude infantilizing of the Kennedys and all the false claims that went into it.  Anybody know how old Coren is?  Was he even alive in 1962?  If not, can he read?  Does he?  Carson’s book is out now in the 2002 40th anniversary edition, still available for anyone interested in the facts.

MONCKTON:  And then, the entire international left came in on the act.  And that was what did the damage.

And so the problem is that you have this political faction which likes to show who’s boss.  That’s the characteristic of the left.  They are instinctive interventionists.  And I know this is a little much of a political point, but it is unfortunately true that it was they who pushed the DDT ban.  And it was they who — to this day! — will say that David Suzuki and others who advocated this ban — and David Suzuki will tell you today that he regards this as one of the most successful campaigns he ever conducted.  That killed 40 million people, nearly all of them children. And it took 40 years before this decision could be reversed.  Why?  Because we had to wait until all the people responsible for the original decision had either retired or died, and were no longer in the way of doing the decent thing.

COREN:  Because they thought it was harmful to people, to animals . . .

MONCKTON:  They didn’t think any such thing.  It was purely to show who was boss.  There was never any scientific case for this.

Well, it’s in Canada, after all, so Monckton feels obligated to take a swipe at the most prominent local scientist who urges environmental protection.  David Suzuki was probably active in Canada on pesticide regulation, but of course he played only a tangential role in the U.S. action, which is what Monckton complains about here.  Suzuki was no personal confidante of the Kennedys.  Suzuki was 27 in 1963, probably completing graduate school.  Monckton’s swipe at Suzuki is almost completely gratuitous.

This is where the serious charges come.  Monckton accuses Carson, and all environmentalists, of ignoring human conditions.  He accuses us — he accuses you, since you were not active to stop the DDT ban — of being mass murderers, because, he claims, DDT would have been a safe and effective way to fight malaria, which has killed about a million people a year worldwide over the past 40 years.

Monckton is dead wrong.

First, malaria fighters stopped using DDT heavily in Africa in the early 1960s, years before any nation banned the substance.  There were three problems that contributed to the cessation of DDT use, as outlined by Malcolm Gladwell in his heavily researched and authoritative tribute to malaria fighter Fred Soper in The New Yorker:

  1. Many nations in Africa did have governments capable of conducting the regimented campaign necessary to successfully eradicate malaria — and in fact, most of the nations in Subsaharan Africa didn’t participate in the campaign at all.  Soper’s goal was to knock down mosquitoes for at least six months, and in that time cure malaria in every human.  When the mosquitoes came roaring back — as everyone in the program knew they would — there would be no pool of malaria in humans from which the mosquitoes could get infected.  The program was to break the chain of transmission required for the life cycles of the malaria parasites.  But that meant that governments had to have health care systems that could accurately diagnose malaria, and often which malaria parasite, and complete a cycle of treatment needed to flush the parasites out of the infected humans.  In the end, many entire nations simply did not participate.
  2. Malaria fighters were well aware of the race they were running:  Mosquitoes breed quickly, and consequently evolve quickly.  WHO’s malaria fighting teams understood it was a simply matter of time before mosquitoes became resistant or immune to DDT.  If that happened before malaria could be eradicated in a country or region, the game was over.  Resistance to DDT in mosquitoes started showing up as early as 1948 in Greece; by the 1960s several populations of mosquitoes were highly resistant.  (Today, every mosquito on Earth carries at least one of the two alleles that produces DDT immunity — and some carry as many as 60 copies of the two alleles, leaving them completely unaffected by DDT.)
  3. Industry didn’t get on board with the campaign.  Over-use of DDT out of doors by agricultural interests speeded the evolution of DDT-resistant mosquitoes.  Industrial use competed against, and ultimately frustrated, health care use of DDT.

Gladwell describes how WHO abandoned the eradication campaign with DDT as the key element, in the middle 1960s.  This was done not as a reaction to Carson’s book, but because the mosquitoes showed resistance.  Malaria fighters couldn’t build medical care in several nations at once while racing agriculture to use DDT.  WHO turned to other methods of fighting the parasites.

It’s important to note that WHO cannot dictate to nations what they do, nor did WHO ever “ban” DDT.  There are a lot of claims that there was pressure applied by environmentalists to get DDT use stopped, but the facts remain that DDT manufacture for export to Africa continued in the United States for more than a decade after DDT use was stopped in the U.S.  Manufacture of DDT moved to Africa and Asia — India and China make the stuff today.  Any African nation who wished to use DDT could have gotten it cheaply and in great quantity.

Second, there is no indication that DDT could have saved any more lives.  Simple mathematics tells the story:  The WHO eradication campaign reduced world-wide deaths from a high of 4 million annually, to about 2 million annually.  Each nation that eradicated malaria did so by raising incomes and improving the housing of poor people, making effective screening from mosquitoes the central part of the campaign.  Also, nations copied what the U.S. had done prior to the discovery that DDT killed insects:  They institute improved public health campaigns to educate people how to avoid being bitten, and to diagnose the disease and deliver knock-out pharmaceuticals quickly.

But, since heavy DDT use was stopped, the malaria rates continued to fall until recently.  Over the last decade, annual deaths numbered under a million, lower than when DDT use was at its greatest.  It’s impossible to square decreasing death rates with Monckton’s claim that DDT is a panacea against malaria, still.

Finally to this point of DDT and malaria, we have a conundrum:  Those nations who still use DDT, still have epidemic malaria.  If, as Monckton says, DDT is a miracle weapon against malaria, those nations that use DDT should be malaria-free.  If we think through the process, we see that malaria eradication is a much greater task that simply killing mosquitoes, and too complex to be cured simply by poisoning Africa and Africans.

Monckton ultimately tries to reduce the complex science, medical, geographical, political and education issues of malaria to a political question.  He accuses everyone who ever worked to reduce DDT use of being part of an out-of-control, monolithic and unthinking “left.”  It’s a popular idea among loud talkers from the right, including Monckton, Limbaugh, Rockwell, Hannity, the Hoover Institute, and most people who resist the science of global warming.  Monckton’s crude revisions of history away from accuracy might be justified as proper propaganda, if there were a noble political goal behind his work.  No noble goal can be discerned, latent or patent.

Many on the western left, in North America and Britain, urged tighter controls on DDT, especially once it became clear that the stuff was dangerous.  They got this from a long tradition of conservation in the U.S., for example, and not from any particular political orientation.  Fact is, the radical, socialist left who took over Russia and created the Soviet Union, who dominated Eastern Europe after World War II and who created the Peoples Republic of China, have always been unfriendly toward environmental protection, including the banning of DDT.  There was no ban on DDT use in the Soviet Union, nor in China.

Conservation, and the fight against pollution, is a product of western, capitalist nations.  It may be surprising news to a few, but the American conservation movement was led by people like John D. Rockefeller II, and Laurance Rockefeller, the Vanderbilts, and other people who were wealthy enough to have time to look around to see what was happening to America’s wild resources — or who appreciated the value of wilderness and conservation and the role it played in making America great.  Monckton is turning his back on one of the greater achievements of American capitalism, the strong desire to preserve the wild, and have clean air and clean water, for the health and benefit of all citizens.  Monckton completely shuns this great heritage of western civilization.  It’s quite astounding.

Ultimately, the decisions to reduce the use of, and now to phase out DDT (under 2001′s Persistent Organic Pesticides Treaty (POPs)) were scientific decisions.  In the U.S., the National Academy of Sciences wrote about DDT early on, noting (with an egregious typographical error) the great utility and benefit DDT provides to humans, but finally weighing the harmful effects and finding that they outweigh the benefits.  The number of assessments of DDT by august scientific and policy bodies is impressive, each deciding DDT had to go:  The 1958 U.S. Forest Service, the 1963 President’s Science Advisory Council, two federal courts in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration in 1969, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972, two more federal appellate courts ruling on the appropriateness and scientific soundness of EPA’s rule, the National Academy of Sciences, Congress under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA, the Superfund Act), and finally an international treaty between nearly 100 nations.  At each step science was the driving force.  At most steps, an absence of sound science would have made the ruling go the opposite way.

But all that is legal “mumbo-jumbo” to Monckton.  All that science is for naught, to Monckton’s classics trained mind.  What Monckton wants, Monckton should have, damn the facts, damn the courts, damn the scientists, damn history.

It’s really astonishing to add up the error Monckton piles on.

It’s the same with global warming.  There is no scientific case for this, either.  It’s the same people, trying to assert themselves in the same way.  They have succeeded, yet again, in getting the entire classe politique . . .

COREN:  I wish we had another hour.

So, with Monckton dead wrong or hallucinating on DDT, we should now trust him on global warming?

Monckton will not understand those issues, either.  They are even more complex.

Update:  Monckton continues to smear the Kennedys in Australia, nearly two months later.

Help others to remember history, so as not to be condemned to repeat it:

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Poachers kill massive grizzly in Montana

August 24, 2009

Ralph Maughan’s Wildlife News reports that Maximus, an 800-pound grizzly bear thought to be Montana’s second largest, was illegally killed recently.

The poacher shot the bear about four weeks ago.  A reward has been offered for information leading to the capture of the poacher.

Can you tell a grizzly from a brown bear?  Chart from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Can you tell a grizzly from a brown bear? Chart from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Update, 1-30-2010: The chart linked to above has disappeared in a website redesign.  Below is a crude representation of the chart I made from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife information sheet on grizzlies, here.

How to tell a grizzly from a black (.pdf download)

Grizzly bear/black bear identification chart, adapted from USFWS by Ed Darrell, Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

Grizzly bear/black bear identification chart, adapted from USFWS by Ed Darrell, Millard Fillmore's Bathtub


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