Yes, malaria is still a plague; it’s not Rachel Carson’s fault, and your saying so probably kills kids

May 30, 2014

May 27′s Google Doodle honoring Rachel Carson brought out a lot of those people who have been duped by the anti-Rachel Carson hoaxers, people who are just sure their own biased views of science and the politics of medical care in the third world are right, and Carson, and the people who study those issues, are not.

So comes “The Federalist,” what appears to me to be a reactionary site, which yesterday got great readership for a story from Bethany Mandel.  Mandel tells a story of a child in Cambodia suffering from malaria.  The suffering is horrible and the child most likely died.  It’s a tragic story of poverty and lack of medical care in the third world.

Erroneously, Mandel up front blames the suffering all on Rachel Carson, in a carp about the Google Doodle.

Here was my quick response between bouts in the dentist’s chair yesterday [links added here]:

[Bethany Mandel wrote:] Using faulty science, Carson’s book argued that DDT could be deadly for birds and, thus, should be banned. Incredibly and tragically, her recommendations were taken at face value and soon the cheap and effective chemical was discontinued, not only in the United States but also abroad. Environmentalists were able to pressure USAID, foreign governments, and companies into using less effective means for their anti-malaria efforts. And so the world saw a rise in malaria deaths.

Don’t be evil?

Start by not telling false tales.

1.  Carson presented a plethora of evidence that DDT kills birds.  This science was solid, and still is.

2.  Carson did not argue DDT should be banned.  She said it was necessary to fight disease, and consequently uses in the wild, requiring broadcast spraying, should be halted immediately.

3.  Scientific evidence against DDT mounted up quickly; under US law, two federal courts determined DDT was illegal under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act; they stayed orders to ban the chemical pending hearings under a new procedure at the new Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA held hearings, adversary proceedings, for nine months. More than 30 DDT manufacturers were party to the hearings, presenting evidence totaling nearly 10,000 pages.  EPA’s administrative law judge ruled that, though DDT was deadly to insects, arachnids, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, the labeled uses proposed in a new label (substituted at the last moment) were legal under FIFRA — indoor use only, and only where public health was concerned.  This labeling would allow DDT to remain on sale, over the counter, with few penalties for anyone who did not follow the label.  EPA took the label requirements, and issued them as a regulation, which would prevent sales for any off-label uses.  Understanding that this would be a severe blow to U.S. DDT makers, EPA ordered U.S. manufacture could continue, for the export markets — fighting mosquitoes and malaria being the largest export use.

This ruling was appealed to federal courts twice; in both cases the courts ruled EPA had ample scientific evidence for its rule.  Under U.S. law, federal agencies may not set rules without supporting evidence.

4.  DDT was banned ONLY for agriculture use in the U.S.  It was banned in a few European nations.

5.  DDT has never been banned in Africa or Asia.

6.  USAID’s policy encouraged other nations to use U.S.-made DDT, consistent with federal policy to allow manufacture for export, for the benefit of U.S. business.

7.  U.S. exports flooded markets with DDT, generally decreasing the price.

Fred Soper, super malaria fighter, whose ambitious campaign to erase malaria from the Earth had to be halted in 1965, before completion, when DDT abuse bred mosquitoes resistant and immune to DDT.

Fred Soper, super malaria fighter, whose ambitious campaign to erase malaria from the Earth had to be halted in 1965, before completion, when DDT abuse bred mosquitoes resistant and immune to DDT.

8.  Although WHO had been forced to end its malaria eradication operation in 1965, because DDT abuse had bred mosquitoes resistant to and immune to DDT, and though national and international campaigns against malaria largely languished without adequate government funding, malaria incidence and malaria deaths declined.  Especially after 1972, malaria continued a year-over-year decline with few exceptions.

Note that the WHO campaign ended in 1965 (officially abandoned by WHO officials in 1969), years before the U.S. ban on DDT.

Every statement about DDT in that paragraph of [Mandel's] article, is wrong.

Most important, to the purpose of this essay, malaria did not increase.  Malaria infections decreased, and malaria deaths decreased.

I’m sure there are other parts of the story that are not false in every particular.  But this article tries to make a case against science, against environmental care — and the premise of the case is exactly wrong.  A good conclusion is unlikely to follow.

Mandel was hammered by the full force of the anti-Rachel Carson hoaxers.  I wonder how many children will die because people thought, “Hey, all we have to do is kill Rachel Carson to fix malaria,” and so went off searching for a gun and a bullet?

You are not among them, are you?

Update: This guy, a worshipper of the Breitbart, seems to be among those who’d rather rail against a good scientist than lift a finger to save a kid from malaria. If you go there, Dear Reader, be alert that he uses the Joe Stalin method of comment moderation:  Whatever you say, he won’t allow it to be posted.  Feel free to leave comments here, where we practice First Amendment-style ethics on discussion.


Nothing But Nets invites you to join in the fight against malaria, for World Malaria Day

April 3, 2014

I get e-mail from Nothing But Nets, in preparation for World Malaria Day, April 25, 2014:

Compete to Beat Malaria Header with credit

Dear Ed,

As you know, World Malaria Day is April 25, and supporters will be taking action throughout April to help us send 25,000 bed nets to families in Africa.

Are you in?

Our champions are holding basketball tournaments, soccer games, and running in 5K races to get their friends, families, and communities involved in the fight against malaria.Megan Walter Jumpology

Megan Walter, our supporter from Richmond, Virginia, organized a unique event in her hometown. She partnered with her local trampoline park to jump for nets – and they raised $10 for every jumper who participated. The event was a huge success, raising more than $2,000 to send 200 bed nets to families in Africa. What made it even better is that Megan had fun doing it!

There are lots of ways to raise money and send nets while doing what you love. Every $10 you raise helps us purchase and distribute life-saving bed nets with our UN partners.

What sports challenge will you do this April?

Join us in sending nets and saving lives for World Malaria Day! Together, we can defeat malaria.

Sincerely,

Liz Wing
Senior Grassroots Officer, Nothing But Nets

P.S. Whether you run, swim, or play basketball, you can help raise critical funds and save lives. Take a challenge.

 

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You noted, of course:  No call for more DDT.  No slamming of science, scientists, medicine, medical workers, or Rachel Carson and environmental organizations.

This comes from people who fight malaria for a (meager) living, on non-profit basis, without political bias.  In short, these people need help, and consequently have no use for the pro-DDT, anti-Rachel Carson, anti-WHO, anti-science hoaxes.

Please give.  Every $10 can save a life.


World malaria report 2013 shows major progress in fight against malaria, calls for sustained financing (but not DDT)

March 21, 2014

News release from the World Health Organization:

World malaria report 2013 shows major progress in fight against malaria, calls for sustained financing

News release

Cover of World Malaria Report 2013

Cover of World Malaria Report 2013

11 December 2013 | Geneva/Washington DC - Global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, reducing malaria mortality rates by 45% globally and by 49% in Africa, according to the “World malaria report 2013″ published by WHO.

An expansion of prevention and control measures has been mirrored by a consistent decline in malaria deaths and illness, despite an increase in the global population at risk of malaria between 2000 and 2012. Increased political commitment and expanded funding have helped to reduce incidence of malaria by 29% globally, and by 31% in Africa.

The large majority of the 3.3 million lives saved between 2000 and 2012 were in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden, and among children aged less than 5 years – the group most affected by the disease. Over the same period, malaria mortality rates in children in Africa were reduced by an estimated 54%.

But more needs to be done.

“This remarkable progress is no cause for complacency: absolute numbers of malaria cases and deaths are not going down as fast as they could,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “The fact that so many people are infected and dying from mosquito bites is one of the greatest tragedies of the 21st century.”

In 2012, there were an estimated 207 million cases of malaria (uncertainty interval: 135 – 287 million), which caused approximately 627 000 malaria deaths (uncertainty interval 473 000 – 789 000). An estimated 3.4 billion people continue to be at risk of malaria, mostly in Africa and south-east Asia. Around 80% of malaria cases occur in Africa.

Long way from universal access to prevention and treatment

Malaria prevention suffered a setback after its strong build-up between 2005 and 2010. The new WHO report notes a slowdown in the expansion of interventions to control mosquitoes for the second successive year, particularly in providing access to insecticide-treated bed nets. This has been primarily due to lack of funds to procure bed nets in countries that have ongoing malaria transmission.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of the population with access to an insecticide-treated bed net remained well under 50% in 2013. Only 70 million new bed nets were delivered to malaria-endemic countries in 2012, below the 150 million minimum needed every year to ensure everyone at risk is protected. However, in 2013, about 136 million nets were delivered, and the pipeline for 2014 looks even stronger (approximately 200 million), suggesting that there is real chance for a turnaround.

There was no such setback for malaria diagnostic testing, which has continued to expand in recent years. Between 2010 and 2012, the proportion of people with suspected malaria who received a diagnostic test in the public sector increased from 44% to 64% globally.

Access to WHO-recommended artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) has also increased, with the number of treatment courses delivered to countries rising from 76 million in 2006 to 331 million in 2012.

Despite this progress, millions of people continue to lack access to diagnosis and quality-assured treatment, particularly in countries with weak health systems. The roll-out of preventive therapies – recommended for infants, children under 5 and pregnant women – has also been slow in recent years.

“To win the fight against malaria we must get the means to prevent and treat the disease to every family who needs it,” says Raymond G Chambers, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDGs and for Malaria. “Our collective efforts are not only ending the needless suffering of millions, but are helping families thrive and adding billions of dollars to economies that nations can use in other ways.”

Global funding gap

International funding for malaria control increased from less than US$ 100 million in 2000 to almost US$ 2 billion in 2012. Domestic funding stood at around US$ 0.5 billion in the same year, bringing the total international and domestic funding committed to malaria control to US$ 2.5 billion in 2012 – less than half the US$ 5.1 billion needed each year to achieve universal access to interventions.

Without adequate and predictable funding, the progress against malaria is also threatened by emerging parasite resistance to artemisinin, the core component of ACTs, and mosquito resistance to insecticides. Artemisinin resistance has been detected in four countries in south-east Asia, and insecticide resistance has been found in at least 64 countries.

“The remarkable gains against malaria are still fragile,” says Dr Robert Newman, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme. “In the next 10-15 years, the world will need innovative tools and technologies, as well as new strategic approaches to sustain and accelerate progress.”

WHO is currently developing a global technical strategy for malaria control and elimination for the 2016-2025 period, as well as a global plan to control and eliminate Plasmodium vivax malaria. Prevalent primarily in Asia and South America, P. vivax malaria is less likely than P. falciparum to result in severe malaria or death, but it generally responds more slowly to control efforts. Globally, about 9% of the estimated malaria cases are due to P. vivax, although the proportion outside the African continent is 50%.

“The vote of confidence shown by donors last week at the replenishment conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is testimony to the success of global partnership. But we must fill the annual gap of US$ 2.6 billion to achieve universal coverage and prevent malaria deaths,” said Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. “This is our historic opportunity to defeat malaria.”

Notes for editors:

The “World malaria report 2013″ summarizes information received from 102 countries that had on-going malaria transmission during the 2000-2012 period, and other sources, and updates the analyses presented in 2012.

The report contains revised estimates of the number of malaria cases and deaths, which integrate new and updated under-5 mortality estimates produced by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, as well as new data from the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group.


Legacy of DDT abuse: Cleaning up old pesticide dumps

February 15, 2014

Contrary to science denialist claims, DDT is not harmless.  Users and abusers of DDT, abandoned stocks of DDT and other pesticides around the world, after the stuff had become essentially useless against insect or other pests originally targeted.

In the U.S., EPA moves in to clean up DDT dumps, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), or Superfund.  In much of the world, various UN agencies find the old pesticides, and clean them up as funding allows.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) documents its cleanup efforts with photos of sessions training technicians to find and catalog dump sites, repackaging of old drums when necessary, extraction, packing and shipping to a disposal site.

Photos tell a story words on paper cannot.

Caption from FAO: TN (Tanzania) before: 40 tonnes of 50 year old DDT were found in Menzel Bourguiba Hospital, TN - : M. Davis

Caption from FAO: TN (Tanzania) before: 40 tonnes of 50 year old DDT were found in Menzel Bourguiba Hospital, TN – : M. Davis

Sometimes the toxic wastes did not stay neatly stacked.

FAO caption:  TN before: 40 tonnes of 50 year old DDT were found in Menzel Bourguiba Hospital, TN

FAO caption: TN before: 40 tonnes of 50 year old DDT were found in Menzel Bourguiba Hospital, TN View real size

DDT use against insect vectors of disease essentially halted in the mid-1960s.  The Rockefeller Foundation’s and UN’s ace mosquito fighter, Fred Soper, ran into mosquitoes in central Africa that were resistant and immune to DDT. Farmers and businesses had seized on DDT as the pesticide of choice against all crop pests, or pests in buildings.  By the time the UN’s malaria-fighting mosquito killers got there, the bugs had evolved to the point DDT didn’t work the malaria eradication campaign.

Also, there were a few DDT accidents that soured many Africans on the stuff.  Around lakes where local populations caught the fish that comprised the key protein in their diet, farmers used DDT, and the runoff killed the fish.

Use of DDT ended rather abruptly in several nations.  Stocks of DDT that had been shipped were abandoned where they were stored.

For decades.

FAO caption:    Obsolete DDT in Luanda, Angola - July 2008 -  : K. Cassam

FAO caption: Obsolete DDT in Luanda, Angola – July 2008 – : K. Cassam

Prevention and disposal of obsolete chemicals remains as a thorny problem throughout much of the world.  Since 2001, under the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty, (POPs), the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) has coordinated work by WHO and a variety of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as governments, to make safe the abandoned pesticides, and detoxify or destroy them to prevent more damage.  FAOs efforts, with photos and explanation, is a history we should work to preserve.

DDT provided powerful insect killing tools for a relatively short period of time, from about 1945 to 1965.  In that short period, DDT proved to be a deadly killer of ecosystems to which it was introduced, taking out a variety of insects and other small animals, on up the food chain, with astonishing power.  One of DDT’s characteristics is a long half-life — it keeps on killing, for months or years. Once that was thought to be an advantage.

Now it’s a worldwide problem.


Rachel Carson/DDT hoaxing from the Ayn Rand Institute

April 21, 2013

Welcome, refugees and truth-seekers from WUWT:  If this site seems a little unusual to you, you should know that at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub we try to stick to science, and we don’t censor opposing opinions.  Genuinely interested in the DDT/Malaria issue?  See this collection.

______________

A couple of physicists get together in a podcast from the Ayn Rand Institute, Poke in Your Eye to Eye, and demonstrate that they don’t know biology well, they know less about history, but they don’t hesitate to tell whoppers about Rachel Carson and the value of DDT“Silent Spring 50 Years Later [a special Earth Day podcast].

English: An image of the main entrance of Rach...

A better indication of the legacy of Rachel Carson: Schools across America named after the woman, to inspire children to explore science, and to read and write. Here, the main entrance of Rachel Carson Middle School in Herndon, Virginia. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Earth Day must be coming up.  The usual suspects trot out their usual disinformation and hoax campaigns — and it will continue through Earth Day on April 22, International Malaria Day on April 25, through Rachel Carson’s birthday, and probably all summer.

Mencken warned us that hoaxes, once out of the bottle, can’t be put back.  Twain (and others) remind us that whopping falsehoods travel around the world “while truth is getting its boots on.”  Amanda Maxham, who is listed as an astrophysicist at the Rand site, interviewed physicist Keith Lockitch — and they repeat almost all the hoary old false fables invented by Gordon Edwards and Steven Milloy about malaria, DDT, and Rachel Carson.

A few of the errors committed by the polemicists at the Ayn Rand Institute:

  • ‘DDT doesn’t breed mosquitoes more resistant to the stuff, but instead weakens the population through reducing diversity.’  Absolutely wrong.  Turns out the new alleles mosquitoes pick up that makes them resistant and immune to DDT, are ALSO the alleles that make mosquitoes resistant to the whole class of chemicals, and thereby foul up efforts to develop new pesticides.

    Tanzania - Removing DDT

    Cleaning up DDT in Africa: 40 tons of 50 year old DDT were found in Menzel Bourguiba Hospital, Tanzania – FAO photo

  • ‘Rachel Carson didn’t account for the value of DDT in eradicating malaria.’  They start out claiming DDT ended malaria in the U.S. (it didn’t; CDC had won the fight will just mop up operations left, by 1939; DDT wasn’t even available for another seven years), and run through the false claim that DDT alone had almost eradicated malaria from Sri Lanka, but listening to Rachel Carson, the nation stopped spraying and malaria roared back (the nation stopped ALL of its malaria fighting efforts due to costs and civil war; when the fight was taken up again, DDT was not useful; largely without DDT, Sri Lanka has once again nearly wiped out malaria).
  • ‘Because of a lack of DDT use, malaria continues to ravage the world killing a million people a year.’  Actually, malaria is at the lowest level in human history, killing less than a million a year, with great progress being made against the disease using the methods Rachel Carson urged in 1962.  Had we listened to Carson earlier, we could have saved a few million more lives, and perhaps have eradicated malaria already.  Also, it’s important to remember that DDT was never banned in Africa nor Asia; the ban on use of DDT on cotton crops in the U.S. did not cause any increase in malaria anywhere; since the ban on DDT use in the U.S. malaria has constantly declined in incidence and deaths.
  • ‘DDT is very effective because it’s ALSO repellent to mosquitoes, after it ceases to kill them.’  So in the end, they urge the use of a poisonous-to-wildlife, mildly carcinogenic substance, because it repels mosquitoes?  Bednets are more effective, cheaper, not-poisonous to wildlife, and they aren’t even suspected of causing cancer.

Rachel Carson’s life is a model for budding scientists, aspiring journalists, and teachers of ethics.  That so many people spend so much time making up false claims against her, in favor of a deadly toxin, and against science, tells us much more about the subrosa intentions of the claim fakers than about Rachel Carson.

Want the facts about Rachel Carson?  Try William Souder’s marvelous biography from last year, On a Farther Shore.  Want facts on DDT?  Try EPA’s official DDT history online (or look at some of the posts here at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub). Want the facts about malaria?  Check with the world’s longest running, most ambitious malaria fighting campaign operated by the good people at the World Health Organization, Roll Back Malaria,  or see Sonia Shah’s underappreciated history, The FeverHow malaria has ruled mankind for 500,000 years.

More:

Roll Back Malaria, World Malaria Day logo for 2013

Roll Back Malaria, World Malaria Day logo for 2013

Wall of Shame (hoax spreaders to watch out for this week):


Laissez Faire Today, lazy and unfair as yesterday on issues of DDT

September 25, 2012

In June I drew encouragement that Henry I. Miller, the musty old anti-science physician at the Hoover Institution, had not renewed his annual plea to bring back DDT.  Miller is just one of the most predictable trolls of science and history; most years he waits until there are a number of West Nile virus victims, and then he claims we could have prevented it had we just jailed Rachel Carson and poisoned the hell out of America, Africa, Asia and the Moon with DDT.  For years I’ve reminded him in various fora that DDT is particularly inappropriate for West Nile . . .

Rachel Carson Homestead Springdale, PA

Rachel Carson Homestead Springdale, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since June, Miller popped up and popped off in Forbes, but using the event of the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s brilliant book Silent Spring.  Brilliance and science and history aside, Miller still believes that protecting wildlife and humans from DDT’s manifold harms is a threat to free enterprise — how can anyone be expected to make a profit if they can’t poison their customers?

Miller is not the only throwback to the time before the Age of Reason, though.  It’s time to put the rebuttals on the record, again.

Comes this morning Jeffrey Tucker of Laissez Faire Today, complaining that the resurgence of bedbugs in America is an assault on democracy, apple pie, free enterprise, and Rachel Carson should be exhumed and tortured for her personal banning of DDT worldwide.  You can read his screed.  He’s full of unrighteous and unholy indignation at imagined faults of Carson and imagined benignity of pesticides.

I responded (links added here):

I’m shocked by your mischaracterizations of Rachel Carson, her great book Silent Spring (which it appears to me you didn’t read and don’t know at all), and pesticide regulation. Consequently, you err in history and science, and conclusion. Let me detail the hub of your errors.

You wrote:

Carson decried the idea that man should rule nature. “Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species — man — acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world.” This anthropocentrism she decried.

Carson was concerned that we were changing things that would have greater effects later, and that those effects would hurt humans. Her concern was entirely anthropocentric: What makes life worth living? Should we use chemicals that kill our children, cripple us, and create havoc in the things we enjoy in the outdoors, especially if we don’t know the ultimate effects?

Exactly contrary to your claim, her book was directed at the quality and quantity of human lives. She wanted long, good lives, for more people. How could you miss that, if you read any of her writings?

She suggested that killing a bedbug is no different from killing your neighbor: “Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is — whether its victim is human or animal — we cannot expect things to be much better in this world… We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature.”

Carson never wrote that there should be difficulty in killing bedbugs. The passage you quote, but conspiratorially do not cite, comes not from Silent Spring, but from a commentary on a compilation of hunting stories.* She’s referring to killing for the sake of killing, in that passage. I think it’s rather dishonest to claim she equates fighting biting bedbugs with killing animals unsportingly. I worry that you find it necessary to so grossly and dishonestly overstate your case. Is your case so weak?

In fact, she spoke of animals in patently untrue ways: “These creatures are innocent of any harm to man. Indeed, by their very existence they and their fellows make his life more pleasant.”

She did not write that about bedbugs. That’s a false claim.**

I guess she never heard of the Black Death.

I guess you never heard of accuracy. On page 266 of Silent Spring Carson directly addressed plague in a list of insect- and arthropod-borne diseases:

“The list of diseases and their insect carriers, or vectors, includes typhus and body lice, plague and rat fleas, African sleeping sickness and tsetse flies, various fevers and ticks, and innumerable others.

These are important problems and must be met. No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored. The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are making it worse.

Carson describes abuse of pesticides — such as DDT on bedbugs — that actually makes the insects stronger and tougher to get rid of. That appears to be your stand, now, to do whatever Carson said not to do, in order to poke a thumb in her eye, even if it means making bedbugs worse.

[Tucker continued:] In short, she seemed to suggest that bedbugs — among all the millions of other killer insects in the world — enjoy some kind of right to life. It was a theory that could be embraced only in a world without malaria and bedbugs. But embraced it was.

That’s total fiction. What you write is completely divorced from fact.

By 1972, DDT was banned. And not only DDT. The whole enterprise of coming up with better and better ways to further human life and protect its flourishing was hobbled.

By 1960, DDT had ceased to work against bedbugs — this was one of the things that worried Carson*** and would worry any responsible person [see Bug Girl's blog]. In her book, Carson warned that indiscriminate use and abuse of DDT would render it useless to fight disease and other insects and pests. By 1965, super mosquito-fighter Fred Soper and the World Health Organization had to stop their campaign to eradicate malaria when they discovered that abuse of DDT in agriculture and other uses had bred malaria-carrying mosquitoes in central and Subsaharan Africa that were resistant and immune to DDT. Keep in mind that the U.S. ban on DDT applied only in the U.S., and only one other nation in the world had a similar ban. DDT has never been banned in Africa, nor Asia.

Carson sounded the warning in 1962. By 1972, when the U.S. banned use of DDT on agricultural crops (and only on crops), it was too late to preserve DDT as a key tool to wipe out malaria.

Was the pesticide industry “hobbled?” Not at all. EPA’s order on DDT explicitly left manufacturing in the U.S. available for export — keeping profits with the pesticide companies, and multiplying the stocks of DDT available to fight disease anywhere in the world that anyone wanted to use it.

The fact is that DDT was a fortunate find, a bit of a miracle substance, and we overused it, thereby cutting short by decades its career as a human life-saver. That was exactly what Carson feared, that human lives would be lost and made miserable, unnecessarily and prematurely, by unthinking use of chemical substances. Pesticide manufacturers have been unable to come up with a second DDT, but not because regulation prevents it. Carson understood that.

There is no shortage of science-ignorant, and science-abusive websites that claim Rachel Carson erred. But 50 years out, the judgment of the President’s Science Advisory Council on her book remains valid: It’s accurate, and correct, and we need to pay attention to what she wrote. Not a jot nor tittle of what Carson wrote in 1962 has proven to be in error. Quite the contrary, as Discover Magazine noted in 2007, thousands of peer-reviewed studies reinforce the science she cited then.

Malaria deaths today are at the lowest level in human history, largely without DDT, and much due to malaria fighters having adopted the methods of fighting the disease that Carson advocated in 1962. Unfortunately, those methods were not adopted for nearly 40 years. Still, the reductions in malaria are remarkable. At peak DDT use in 1959 and 1960, a half-billion people in the world got malaria every year, one-sixth of the world’s people. 4 million died from the disease. In 2009, about 250 million people got malaria — a reduction of 50% in infections — and fewer than 800,000 people died — a dramatic reduction of more than 75% in death toll. This is all the more remarkable when we realize that world population more than doubled in the interim, and at least a billion more people now live in malaria-endemic areas. Much or most of that progress has been without DDT, of necessity — every mosquito on Earth today now carries the alleles of resistance and immunity to DDT.

You impugn a great scientist and wonderful writer on false grounds, and to damaging effect. I hope you’re not so careless in other research.

Rachel Carson was right. The re-emergence of bedbugs, 50 years after she wrote, is not due to anything Carson said, but is instead due to people who petulantly refused to listen to her careful and hard citations to science, and exhortations to stick to what we know to be true to protect human health and the quality of life.

_____________

* Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge, by Lisa H. Sideris, Kathleen Dean Moore, citing another of Carson’s writings, a critique of a collection of Aldo Leopold’s essays on hunting, Round River.

**  Here is the full quote, from pages 99-100 of Silent Spring, highlights added here:

Incidents like the eastern Illinois spraying raise a question that is not only scientific but moral. The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized. These insecticides are not selective poisons; they do not single out the one species of which we desire to be rid. Each of them is used for the simple reason that it is a deadly poison. It therefore poisons all life with which it comes in contact: the cat beloved of some family, the farmer’s cattle, the rabbit in the field, and the horned lark out of the sky. These creatures are innocent of any harm to man. Indeed, by their very existence they and their fellows make his life more pleasant. Yet he rewards them with a death that is not only sudden but horrible. Scientific observers at Sheldon described the symptoms of a meadowlark found near death: ‘Although it lacked muscular coordination and could not fly or stand, it continued to beat its wings and clutch with its toes while lying on its side. Its beak was held open and breathing was labored.’ Even more pitiful was the mute testimony of the dead ground squirrels, which ‘exhibited a characteristic attitude in death. The back was bowed, and the forelegs with the toes of the feet tightly clenched were drawn close to the thorax…The head and neck were outstretched and the mouth often contained dirt, suggesting that the dying animal had been biting at the ground.’

***  See page 273 of Silent Spring.

More:


April 25 is World Malaria Day

April 25, 2012

From the World Health Organization, for World Malaria Day 2012:

World Malaria Day

25 April 2012

In 2010, about 3.3 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – were at risk of malaria. Every year, this leads to about 216 million malaria cases and an estimated 655 000 deaths. People living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable.

World Malaria Day Button (english)

World Malaria Day Button (english) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

World Malaria Day – which was instituted by the World Health Assembly at its 60th session in May 2007 – is a day for recognizing the global effort to provide effective control of malaria. It is an opportunity:

  • for countries in the affected regions to learn from each other’s experiences and support each other’s efforts;
  • for new donors to join a global partnership against malaria;
  • for research and academic institutions to flag their scientific advances to both experts and general public; and
  • for international partners, companies and foundations to showcase their efforts and reflect on how to scale up what has worked.

Related links

Fewer than 700,000 deaths?  That’s significantly fewer than most reports of more than a million per year — significant progress has been made it fighting malaria.  Keep up those efforts, whatever they are.

Watch your news outlets.  Will the pro-DDT, anti-Rachel Carson hoaxsters hold sway, or will the facts on fighting malaria, from the malaria fighters, get top billing?


Anecdotal evidence: Malaria spreads to Tanzania highlands, warming climate blamed

April 16, 2011

Here’s one story that critics of science and scientists who study global warming will try to avoid mentioning:  Malaria’s spread in Tanzania appears to be due to deforestation plus a warming climate that altered historic rainfall patterns.

It’s anecdotal evidence, partly.  The case reinforces the point Al Gore made in An Inconvenient Truth, that climate change can smooth the path for the spread of diseases like malaria.

Via AllAfrica.com, from The Citizen in Dar es Salaam (Sunday Citizen News):

Malaria Threatens Nation’s Highlands

Felix Mwakyembe, 6 March 2011

Opinion

Mbeya — Tanzania’s southern highlanders have long worried about pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses brought on by the cool, wet weather. But as climate change contributes to warmer temperatures in the region, residents are facing a new health threat: malaria.

In Rungwe, a highland district in the south-western Mbeya region bordering Malawi and Zambia, malaria is fast replacing coughs, fever and pneumonia as the most serious local health problem. The change has taken by surprise the region’s residents, who live over 1,000 metres (3,200 feet) above sea level and outside Tanzania’s traditional malarial zones.

Ms Asha Nsasu, 32, of Isebe village, had no idea she had contracted malaria when she was sent to Makandana District Hospital in late December. “I felt weak. I thought it was pneumonia,” Nsasu said. “Then they told me it was malaria.”

In 2009, health centres in Rungwe district reported 100,966 malaria cases, a jump of 25 per cent from 2006, hospital records show.

Malaria is now the biggest public health threat facing Rungwe district, which lies about 940 kilometres (590 miles) southwest of Dar es Salaam, according to the Tukuyu Medical Research Centre, part of the National Institute for Medical Research. One third of outpatients visiting the hospital were diagnosed with the mosquito-borne illness in 2007, according to records from that year, making it the most common disease for outpatients.

Most highland areas in Tanzania are experiencing a growing burden of malaria cases, officials at the Tukuyu Centre said. Climatic changes brought on in part by local environmental degradation are contributing to the growing prevalence of malaria in the district, said Mr Gideon Ndawala, Rungwe district’s malaria coordinator.

“People have cleared the forests, rain has decreased, temperatures have risen,” Mr Ndawala said in an interview. “(When) I first reported on the district in 1983, it was very cold and it rained throughout the year except from mid-September to early November. The weather was not favourable for mosquito breeding,” he said.

Now, however, temperatures are higher and rain more erratic, he said, and mosquito populations – which thrive on warmer temperatures and breed in pools of stagnant water – are on the rise. Worst hit by the surge in malaria are Tukuyu district town, Ikuti, Rungwe Mission and Ilolo, according to district health officials.

Half a century ago, these traditionally cool areas saw no mosquitoes and did not register any malaria cases, but now the weather is warmer, said Mr Ambakisye Mwakatobe, a 76-year-old man from Bulyaga village in Rungwe.

“In the past, we never saw mosquito nets here. I saw a net for the first time at the age of 20, when I joined Butimba Teachers College in 1957,” he said, in an interview at his village home.

Mzee Mwakatobe said cases of malaria began to appear several decades ago but residents did not relate them to warming temperatures, believing the mosquitoes instead were arriving on buses from lower regions.

“It was in the 1970s when we started getting malaria here. I thought it was the buses from Kyela and Usangu that brought mosquitoes,” he admitted. But “the weather also started to change in those years,” he said.

A half-century ago, “it was very cold here and it rained throughout the year. Three things were compulsory: a sweater, pullover or heavy jacket; an umbrella or raincoat; and gumboots,” he added. “There was frost all day long and cars had to put their lights on.

“But today things have changed,” he said. “Look, now we even put on light shirts. There is no need for sweaters, gumboots or umbrellas.”

Scientists agree that the changing weather is feeding into Rungwe’s worsening malaria problem.

“Up until 1960, districts like Rungwe, Mbeya, Mufindi, Njombe, Makete and Iringa in the southern highland regions were malaria free. Today is quite different – malaria prevalence is high,” said Mr Akili Kalinga, a research scientist at Tukuyu Medical Research Centre.

Malaria accounts for 30 per cent of the burden of disease in Tanzania and is a huge drain on productivity, according to a report produced by research scientists for the Sixth Africa Malaria Day in 2006. In response to the rising malaria caseload, the government is taking steps to stem the disease’s expansion.

Measures include public health education in newly vulnerable districts on home cleanliness and water storage, how to eliminate the places of still water where mosquitoes live and breed, and the use of mosquito nets and fumigation, said Dr Sungwa Ndagabwene, Rungwe’s medical officer.

“The government is taking serious measures to fight malaria. We started with a ‘mosquito nets for all’ campaign – saying every person should sleep under bed nets,” Mr Ndagabwene said.

The government also has begun spraying the inside of homes with insecticide, first in the Kagera Region and now throughout the Lake zone, near Lake Victoria, he said. It plans to expand the spraying programme, which has helped cut malaria transmission in Zanzibar, to the rest of the Tanzania’s malaria-affected regions.

Such spraying programmes aim to kill mosquitoes that land on the inside walls of homes. Spraying can protect homes for between four to ten months depending on the insecticide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO has approved 12 insecticides it considers safe for such spraying programmes, including DDT – a controversial endocrine disruptor that has proved one of the most effective ways to control mosquito populations but that has also been linked to environmental damage and health problems including cancer.

Mr Ndagabwene said spraying the chemical only indoors limited its environmental impact. WHO officials have said they believe the benefits of using the pesticide outweigh its risks. The Stockholm Convention bans the use of DDT but exempts countries that choose to use the chemical to control malaria.

Tanzania is one of the world’s worst malaria-affected countries, recording 14 to 18 million clinical cases annually and 60,000 deaths, 80 per cent of them in children under five years old, according to a 2010 malaria reduction plan put together by USAID.

Children under five and pregnant women are most affected by the disease, official health figures show. (AlertNet)

The author is a freelance writer based in Dar es Salaam

More:


WHO, DDT and the Persistent Organic Pesticides Treaty: Historic view from the inside

March 19, 2011

Rollback Malaria (RBM) was established in 1998 in part to reinvigorate the worldwide fight against malaria, and in part to facilitate the negotiations for what became the Stockholm Convention, the Persistent Organic Pesticides Treaty of 2001.

World Malaria Day, April 25, 2011

Remember: World Malaria Day, April 25, 2011

That’s about the time the ungodly assault on WHO and Rachel Carson started, by hysterical DDT advocates.  We now know that Roger Bate, Richard Tren, Donald Roberts and their comrades in pens are stuck in that 1998 fight.

Here’s a short account, from RBM, about just what happened:

The DDT Controversy

In 1999 the RBM Secretariat was called upon to help resolve a controversy emerging from intergovernmental negotiations to establish an international environmental treaty. At the centre of this controversy was DDT, former hero of the malaria eradication campaign and current totemic villain of the environmental movement. The treaty being negotiated was intended to eliminate the production and use of twelve persistent organic pollutants. DDT, still used for malaria control in over 20 countries, was included among ‘the dirty dozen’ chemicals slated for elimination, eliciting a strong reaction from public health activists and malaria specialists who claimed that its elimination would result in unacceptable increases in malaria morbidity and mortality. Environmental specialists and others claimed that environmentally friendly alternatives to DDT, although more expensive, could easily be deployed to guard against such a negative impact.

The controversy over the role of DDT in malaria vector control and the dangers posed to the environment escalated and attracted considerable media attention. The controversy was perpetuated in part because of a relatively weak evidence base on the human toxicity of DDT, the cost-effectiveness of proposed alternatives, and the probable impact of public health use of DDT (compared to agricultural use) on the environment. Resolution was also hampered by the relative lack of public health expertise among the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee delegates, who were primarily active in the fields of foreign and environmental policy.

The challenges presented to the RBM Secretariat in responding to the controversy were many and varied. They included: evaluation of the evidence base and the drafting of policy guidance (a WHO normative role); a major communications effort; and the establishment of new cross-sectoral partnerships and working relationships. In the process, RBM formed new and highly effective ‘partnerships’ or ‘working relations’ with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the US Environmental Protection Agency, the environmental policy apparatus of core RBM partners, as well as a variety of health and environmental NGOs. RBM conducted country and informal expert consultations and convened and chaired a special working group on DDT which was able to establish a position on the use of the insecticide in public health and the process for evaluating and moving to alternatives. The weight of WHO’s technical authority contributed greatly toward establishing the credibility of the working group. Information about the treaty negotiations and the WHO position on DDT was disseminated to health specialists via the WHO regional networks and to treaty focal points via UNEP.

The RBM Secretariat led the WHO delegation to all meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee and prepared information and media events for each, supporting the participation of health/malaria specialists from a number of countries. The RBM Secretariat also served as the media focal point on malaria and DDT and provided interviews and information to all major media, as well as presentations to professional meetings and interest groups.

RBM’s objectives throughout this process were:

  • to establish consensus on the present and future role of DDT and alternatives in malaria control;
  • to encourage greater involvement of public health specialists in country-level discussions about the treaty and in country delegations to the negotiating sessions;
  • to provide information to negotiators and others that would reduce controversy and result in a win-win situation for public health and the environment (in which the longer term goal of DDT elimination is achieved through strengthened, more robust malaria control);
  • to benefit from the media attention to inform the public about malaria; and
  • to mobilize resources to support malaria control from outside the health sector.

All of these objectives have been met and the final treaty, known as the ‘Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants’ provides for the continued public health use of DDT and international assistance for the development and implementation of alternatives.

Resources to support the initial work of the RBM Secretariat were provided by environmental agencies/offices. In addition, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the WHO Regional Office for the Americas (AMRO) and most recently the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) have been awarded project development grants from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to promote regional efforts to strengthen malaria control and reduce reliance on DDT.

From Final Report of the External Evaluation of RBM, Roll Back Malaria to Date, Chapter 2, page 15 (circa 2001).


DDT hoaxsters predictably spinning India/malaria deaths story — wrongly

October 28, 2010

People so wedded to a hoax, or just wrong, view of events cannot be swayed away from their convictions easily.

Elizabeth Whelan’s hoax science policy group, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), put out a press release taking note of the study published in Lancet that calls into question the count of malaria deaths in India promulgated by the World Health Organization (WHO).  You remember, the study suggests the malaria death toll among adults in India may be as high as 200,000 annually, compared to the 15,000 estimated by WHO.

ACSH can’t resist the spin.  Implicit the debunking may be, but the study thoroughly debunks ACSH’s claim that more DDT will help defeat malaria.  India is the world’s greatest user of DDT, using more than all the rest of the world together.  Clearly a surplus usage of DDT has not created the miracle end to malaria that ACSH and other hoaxsters claim it would.

Still, ACSH sticks to their views, even when those views are grossly wrong.  ACSH said, “ACSH has called for resumed use of indoor residual spraying of small amounts of DDT to prevent mosquito bites, repel mosquitoes, and reduce malaria deaths.”

No word from India on whether it will dramatically reduce DDT use to meet ACSH’s call for “small amounts.”

ACSH’s press release calls attention to a Wall Street Journal Blog article describing WHO’s response to the Lancet-published study of India malaria deaths — WHO questions the “verbal autopsy” methodology, and says it stands by its estimates of malaria deaths in the nation:

“The new study uses verbal autopsy method which is suitable only for diseases with distinctive symptoms and not for malaria,” WHO’s India representative Nata Menabde said in an email statement Thursday.

The WHO says it takes into account only confirmed cases of malaria and surveys those using healthcare facilities.

Malaria symptoms include fever, flu-like illness and muscle aches. Malaria is endemic to parts of India, where many people live in mosquito-infested areas. Confirming the presence of malaria requires tests like the “Peripheral Smear for Malarial Parasite” and “Rapid Malaria Antigen”.

Lancet said the determinations made by its field researchers were reviewed by two of 130 trained doctors for all the 6,671 districts who determined whether or not the person had died from malaria.

The data concluded that 205,000 deaths before the age of 70, mainly in rural areas, were caused by malaria each year – 55,000 in early childhood, 30,000 among children ages five to 14 and 120,000 people 15 and older.

The WHO called for further review of the study.

“Malaria has symptoms common with many other diseases and cannot be correctly identified by the local population,” Dr. Menabde said, adding: “The findings of the study cannot be accepted without further validation.”


Does Africa Fighting Malaria actually fight malaria?

June 11, 2010

This spring’s publication of a book, The Excellent Powder, by Richard Tren and Donald Roberts, repeating most of the false claims about malaria and DDT, got me wondering.   Their organization, Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM):  Does AFM do anything to fight malaria?

At its own website it makes some astoundingly grandiose claims:

In its seven years of operation, AFM has helped transform malaria control by taking on and turning around failing public health institutions, donor agencies and governments.

Offhand I can’t think of any public health institution AFM has even been involved with, other than its undeserved criticism of the World Health Organization — and if anyone knows of any donor agency or government AFM has “turned around,” the history books await your telling the story.

Africa Fighting Malaria springs to life every year around World Malaria Day, April 25, with editorials claiming environmentalists have killed millions.  AFM seems to be one of the sources of the bizarre and false claim that Rachel Carson is a “mass murderer.”  AFM makes noise whenever there is difficulty getting a DDT spraying campaign underway in any part of Africa, for any reason, quick to lay the blame on environmentalists, even though the blame generally rests in other places.  AFM is quick on the draw to try to discredit all research into DDT that suggests it poses any health threat, though so far as I can tell AFM has published no counter research, nor has it conducted any research of its own.

In its 2009 Annual Report, AFM proudly states “AFM is the only advocacy group that routinely supports IRS [Indoor Residual Spraying] and through its advocacy work defends the use of DDT for malaria control. ”  Cleverly, and tellingly, they do not reveal that IRS in integrated vector (pest) management is what Rachel Carson advocated in 1962, nor do they mention that it is also supported by the much larger WHO, several nations in Africa, and the Gates Foundation, all of whom probably do more to fight malaria when they sneeze that AFM does intentionally.

Google and Bing searches turn up no projects the organization actually conducts to provide bed nets, or DDT, or anything else, to anyone working against malaria.  I can’t find any place anyone other than AFM describes any activities of the group.

AFM has impressive video ads urging contributions, but the videos fail to mention that nothing in the ad is paid for by AFM, including especially the guy carrying the pesticide sprayer.

.

Looking at the IRS Form 990s for the organization from 2003 through 2008 (which is organized in both the U.S. and South Africa), it seems to me that the major purpose of AFM is to pay Roger Bate about $100,000 a year for part of the time, and pay Richard Tren more than $80,000 a year for the rest of the time.

Can anyone tell me, what has Africa Fighting Malaria ever done to seriously fight malaria?

One could make the argument that if you sent $10 to Nothing But Nets, you’ve saved more lives than the last $1 million invested in AFM, and more to save lives than AFM in its existence.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula and Antievolution.org, even though AFM wasn’t what they were targeting.

_____________

Update: Tim Lambert at Deltoid sent some traffic this way, which caught the attention of Eli Rabett, which reminded me that there really is more to this story about Africa Fighting Malaria, and you ought to read it at Deltoid and Rabett’s warren.

Formatting issues

More (updated September 24, 2013):


Annals of malaria fighting: 863,000 malaria deaths in 2008

January 10, 2010

From World Health Organization statistics, World Malaria Report 2009:

* Half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria
* An estimated 243 million malaria cases occurred in 2008
* An estimated 863 000 malaria deaths occurred in 2008; 767 000 of those (89%) occurred in Africa.


“Not Evil, Just Wrong” opens to thunderous silence

October 24, 2009

It’s the air conditioning one hears, not applause.

Did your local newspaper review the movie?  Odds are the movie didn’t play in your town (did it play anywhere other than local Republican clubs?).

“Not Evil, Just Wrong” promoters and producers appear to have abandoned hopes for a wide-scale debut of their film on October 18, instead choosing direct-to-DVD release in order to salvage something from the effort.

Well, they can take solace in the fact that the John Birch Society, itself trying to rise from the dead, liked the film according to the comments in The New American.  But even the Birch Society reviewer watched it on DVD, not on a big screen.

At the Birch Society site I responded, and will be astounded to see if it stays (in three parts).  The review started out noting that if one asks a friend to explain the cap-and-trade system of controlling carbon air emissions, one is not likely to find that one’s friend fully understands the ins and outs of government regulation of air pollution, commodities markets, and deep economics (why should they?).

Ask a friend or associate, “Can you explain ‘cap and trade?’” More than likely you will be astounded at what a poor grasp (if any) he or she has of the subject, even though the future of our economy and even our country hinges to a large extent on whether or not cap-and-trade legislation passes or not.

I said:

Ask a friend to explain the right to bear arms, and you’re likely to get a bad explanation, too.

Does that mean the Second Amendment is evil?  I don’t think so.

This movie ["Not Evil, Just Wrong"] is greatly riddled with errors, and it presents a false portrait of science, history, and government.

For example:

In one scene that made one want to throw bottles at the TV set, a well-to-do environmentalist showed no concern to a Ugandan mother, Fiona Kobusingye-Boynes, over the loss of her child to malaria, a disease that was almost eliminated by the use of DDT, but then resurged when the EPA banned DDT’s exportation and insisted other countries adopt the same policy.

When DDT was heavily used in Africa, about two million people a year died from the disease.  Today?  About one million die.  The rates aren’t low enough, but does the movie need to lie about history to make a point?  Why?

Malaria was never close to being eliminated with DDT.  Most of the nations that got rid of malaria did it with the combination of better housing (with screens), better health care, and concentrated programs to attack mosquitoes to hold populations down long enough that the pool of malaria in humans could be wiped out.  Mosquitoes get malaria from humans — if there is no malaria in humans, mosquito bites are benign.

DDT was never used in an eradication effort in most nations of Africa, because the governments were unable to get a campaign to fight the disease on all fronts as necessary.  Do we know whether DDT was used in Uganda prior to 1967?

And if it was, are we really supposed to believe that Idi Amin refused to use DDT out of respect for little birdies and fishies, while killing and [it is often said] personally eating his countrymen?

I don’t think that environmentalists are the root of the problem in today’s malaria rates in Uganda, and any perusal of history suggests a dozen other culprits who could not be considered lesser threats by any stretch.

Now the death toll of malaria victims worldwide, but mainly in Third World countries, mostly young children, is estimated by the World Health Organization to be one million per year.

Near the lowest in 200 years.

Recently the World Health Organization, under strong pressure from human rights organizations, particularly in Africa and Asia, rescinded its ban on the pesticide that has been shown in test after test to be harmless to humans and animals, including birds.

WHO never had a ban on the use of DDT.  DDT didn’t work well.  It’s foolish to require malaria fighting agencies to use tools that don’t work.  [Ooooh.  I forgot to note the junk science claim that DDT is harmless to humans and animals -- were it harmless, why should we use it?  It's odd to see the John Birch Society organ campaigning so actively to kill America's symbol, the bald eagle.  Are they really that evil, or just that poorly informed?]

The environmentalists continue to push to overturn this ruling, regardless of its toll in human misery and death.

[Gee. I should have responded, "The environmentalists continue to push this goal even as malaria deaths and infections drop -- regardless the improvement in human health and reduction of misery and death."]

Environmentalists have been lobbying since 1998 to allow DDT use in extremely limited circumstances, with controls to protect human health (the National Academy of Sciences notes that DDT, though among the most useful substances ever created, is more dangerous than helpful, and must be eliminated). [I should have noted here, "Opposition came from the George W. Bush administration."]  In the past three years opposition to DDT use in Uganda has come from large agricultural companies, tobacco growers and unnamed groups of “businessmen” who sued to stop DDT use.

Africans have been free to use DDT since the substance’s discovery, and some nations used it extensively throughout the period since 1946.  Interestingly, they also experienced a resurgence of malaria anyway. If Africans want to use DDT, let them use it.

In the interim, tests across Africa demonstrate that bed nets are more effective than DDT, and cheaper.  DDT alone cannot help Africa much; bed nets alone help a lot.  But eradicating malaria will require great improvements in the delivery of health care to quickly and properly diagnose malaria, and provide complete treatments of the disease in humans to wipe out the pool of disease from which the little bloodsuckers get it in the first place.

This film is not interested in helping Africans, however.  The film’s producers are interested in trying to make hay besmirching the reputations of people who campaign for a clean environment.

How long is this film?  90 minutes, IMDB saysUNICEF notes that a child dies from malaria every 30 seconds.  So while you watch this film, 180 children will die from malaria, and you will have done absolutely nothing to stop the next one from dying.

Send $10 to Nothing But Nets instead.

Look at it this way:  Every sale of the DVD of “Not Evil, Just Wrong,” deprives Nothing But Nets of a donation of two more life-saving bed nets.  So every sale of this DVD more than doubles the chances that another kid in Africa will die from malaria.

Help ban ignorance about world affairs:

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Cranks refuse to budge on influenza hoaxes

September 27, 2009

Friday came and went.  President Obama did as he was scheduled to do, chairing a session of the United Nations Security Council in a meeting directed at nuclear weapons non-proliferation.

This should have silenced some of the cranks, crackpots, crank scientists and hoaxters who had “warned” us that Obama was going to use that opportunity to take over the world and order people to get inoculated against influenza — with some unstated fears that those inoculations would be more dangerous than the flu itself, or turn us all into Volvo-driving, chablis-loving, union-belonging, line-dancing Democrats, or something like that.

:::Sigh:::

No.  Never such luck.

At the post where I debunked the claim that WHO is planning to take over the world with inoculations at the point of a gun, instead of with Auric Goldfinger, SMERSH, KAOS, or Lex Luther, a guy named Simon McDermott complains I don’t give him enough credence.  His letter doesn’t help.

Look:  The World Health Organization is a group of distinguished medical care specialists, public health specialists, and policy wonks, most of whom are too nerdy to want to hold great power — heading up WHO is a stepping stone to no great governmental power position anyone has ever found, least of all at the United Nations, which has no army, no troops of its own of any sort, and advises nations on bettering health care.

The claim that WHO is plotting to take over the world is not just moonbat-shagging silly, it’s completely insane.  It makes no sense on any level, nor is there any evidence to corroborate the claims.  Jane Burgermeister’s website notwithstanding, I have my doubts that she could demonstrate mental competence to enlist as a private in the Russian armed forces.

Moreover, the world faces a crisis in influenza.  With luck and a lot of hard work, we can avoid a spread of a killer flu virus that might make Zero Population Growth look optimistic.  We don’t need hoaxsters, pranksters and fools claiming that influenza is all a great hoax.

Simon said:

I am a freelance writer and have heavily researched the ‘well known’ and ‘established facts’ written in my article that I posted in my previous comment.

The facts are that the H1N1 vaccine has not been safely tested. It takes years to accurately test and research the effects of a new vaccine.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1208716/Half-GPs-refuse-swine-flu-vaccine-testing-fears.html

I have posted a link above to the Mail Online a highly respected national newspaper here in Britain.

The article says that health officials say the vaccine has been thoroughly tested.  No one in the article offers any credible denial of that fact.  The headlines feature an earlier poll of general practitioners alleging that they said the vaccine had not been tested well enough.

Simon:  An out-of-date, nonscientific poll of  GPs in Britain who were underinformed, is not science.

Nor is your reading that story doing “heavy research.”  Googling is not generally considered serious research.

‘First, you exaggerate. Second, that outbreak and the aftereffects are very much on the minds of health officials. Guillan Barre was never linked to the vaccine, by the way. Get some facts, will you?’

This is established fact; although experts now believe that it will be more like one in one million that will contract GBS rather than one in ten thousand.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcnIojjzvvg

No, a badly researched, poorly produced story on a local CBS affiliate, migrated to YouTube, does not make something “established fact.”

GBS is rare, but occurs all the time.  We don’t know the cause, and no one has been able to pin any vaccine as a cause of GBS.  After several million people were vaccinated, a few fell ill from GBS.  No research has ever been able to establish any vaccine as a cause of GBS, however — it may be that those people would have fallen ill with GBS whether they got any vaccine or not.  See the CDC’s information page on GBS:

What causes GBS?

It is thought that GBS may be triggered by an infection. The infection that most commonly precedes GBS is caused by a bacterium called Campylobacter jejuni. Other respiratory or intestinal illnesses and other triggers may also precede an episode of GBS. In 1976, vaccination with the swine flu vaccine was associated with getting GBS. Several studies have been done to evaluate if other flu vaccines since 1976 were associated with GBS. Only one of the studies showed an association. That study suggested that one person out of 1 million vaccinated persons may be at risk of GBS associated with the vaccine.

We’ve had that many kids die of swine flu already this year, in Dallas and Tarrant counties in Texas.    Right now, GBS from all causes is less prevalent than deaths from swine flu.

Also here is a list of dangerous substances that are in other vaccines; we can also expect similar material to be in the swine flu vaccine.

http://www.stunnedmullets.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=130:official-facts-on-vaccines&catid=78:vaccines&Itemid=141

Did you know that potatoes contain carcinogens?  Are you aware that the essential nutrient, selenium, is also carcinogenic?  Did you know that an excess of salt can kill a person?  Are you aware that plain old tap water can be deadly, in several ways?

Gosh, a list of “dangerous substances.”  Did you look at the list?  Did you see that the “dangerous substances” include eggs and yeast?  Are you aware that almost every loaf of bread in America contains more eggs and yeast than three years’ worth of all vaccines for a person?

You’re being irresponsible to the point of recklessness. Yes, people with allergies to eggs should avoid flu vaccines.  No, that doesn’t mean the vaccines are inherently dangerous, that they vaccines don’t work, nor does it mean eggs are inherently dangerous.

It means people who are allergic to eggs should avoid flu vaccines (vaccines are grown in eggs, and some egg proteins remain in influenza vaccines).

Almost all substances are dangerous, when out of place, or in the wrong quantities.  You could note that fact without alarmism and without hysterics.  Dangerous things are all around us.  Flu vaccines fall near the bottom of the danger scales, but near the top of the life-saving scale.

You’re aware that we annually lose around 30,000 people to the pedestrian, seasonal flu?  How many thousands of times greater is the risk of death to flu than death by vaccine?

Research has shown that there are plenty of natural preventative actions that can be taken to protect against catching flu viruses. These are a healthy organic diet, vitamins; such as vitamin D3, regular exercise and certain herbs – all of these are known to boost and strengthen the immune system.

Staying healthy is always a good idea.  H1N1, however, attacks healthy kids. It’s not a question of natural prevention.  Some people have never been exposed to this particular strain or its cousins, and they have no natural immunity to it.  When it strikes, it strikes quickly.  Most of the deaths in the U.S. from H1N1 are to young people who have taken your natural preventive actions.  Vitamins and organic diets don’t work.

In fact, that’s dangerous advice right there.  A medical professional could be subject to malpractice for the advice you just issued.   Kids, Simon is an amateur — don’t try that at home.

I used to regularly take the seasonal flu vaccine before finding out the dangers of vaccines in general; on the two occasions that I did take it I ended up getting flu shortly after taking the vaccine. Since then I have not taken it and decided to go down the alternative route, which has served me very well as I have not had so much as a cold in over three years.

As people grow older they have fewer colds — you never get the same cold virus twice.  When you’re over 30 or 40, you’ve been exposed to most of the variations on cold viruses.  Your reduction in colds is because you’re older, not because you’re healthier.

Ironically, that’s exactly what you argue against.  You’re more resistant to colds because you’ve been “vaccinated” against them.  The vaccination was natural, by catching the viruses and developing immunity.  For flu, we have to have flu shots for the greatest safety.

Don’t argue against flu vaccines by telling us how effectively the natural method of vaccination has protected you from colds, okay?  You look like an idiot when you do that, suggesting you really don’t understand viruses, how they are passed, nor how human immunity occurs.

Since you seem so eager to poison your body with a substance which is clearly more dangerous than swine flu itself, then who am I to stand in your way.

That’s just a crass, cold and craven lie.  There is not even an insane argument to be made that flu vaccines this year are more dangerous than the flu itself.  That’s crazy talk, terrorist talk.  What do you have against old people that you want to see thousands of them die from the flu?   Since the “death panels” claim turned out to be bogus, you decided to go on a one-man campaign to encourage death among the elderly and ill?

Since you are so eager to poison minds with completely bogus attacks on science, let me urge you to volunteer to forego all flu vaccines, but be exposed to the viruses, for the sake of research.  That way the rest of us could benefit from your bizarre animus to life.

I am sorry to hear that there have been a couple of deaths where you live due to swine flu, but there are much safer alternative and natural preventative actions that can be taken. A healthy nutritionally rich diet should be first on the list before we even consider vaccines, of which there is a huge amount of evidence calling into question, their overall safety and effectiveness when fighting disease.

Call the CDC.  Volunteer for flu exposure now, before the rush.  You’re not sure that the vaccines are safe, but you argue that the flu IS safe?  Let’s see you put your life where your mouth is.

I don’t think you’re that big a fool.  Your that whopping dishonest, but not so big a fool.

The problem is that the majority of western doctors are taught absolute fallacies at medical school and in some cases have been brought up to become nothing more than glorified pill prescribers.

The human immune is an extremely powerful and efficient tool when it comes to fighting disease. The reason that it is susceptible to diseases like swine flu at all is because our diets are so nutritionally poor. In many cases this is due to processed foods (filled with additives and preservatives) and poisons such as aspartame in many of our soft drinks.

http://www.naturalnews.com/026168.html

I have posted a link above to a site that lists natural preventives and explains that viruses such as swine flu cannot be contracted by a healthy well maintained immune system.

Don’t look now, but you’re obviously suffering a dementia produced by lack of immunity.

In your case, that dementia could be cured with a trip to a library.

What you wrote in that last excerpt is pure, unadulterated bullshit.

Thank you, but we’ve already heard the “smart pills” joke.

I am not a ‘crack pot’ and neither are others who show a distinct lack of trust in bodies like the WHO and companies such as Baxter, because history has taught us that they have seriously let us down in the past.

You mean, you advocate crackpot ideas for noble reasons?  Alas, that leaves you in the category of crackpot.  Anyone who thinks killer flu is safer than vaccines is a crackpot, or an idiot, or an agent of evil.  I’m assuming you’re not an idiot, and not an agent of evil.  Can you convince me otherwise?

If after examining the evidence that I have provided you still believe that the vaccine is safe, then be my guest, take it, it is your right to choose, but please do not belittle with your derogatory use of humour those who do not!

The reason I talk about this information is because I want people to be safe, and nobody wants a repeat of the 1976 debacle.

Better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Shut up.  Nobody wants a repeat of the 1918 debacle, either — and you should be ashamed of campaigning for it as you are.

If we all lived clean and healthy natural lives then there would be no need for vaccines at all.

There you go with that crackpot stuff again.  If you think that chicken pox and shingles would disappear without vaccines, you’re a fool.  If you fail to understand that polio can’t be beaten without vaccines, you’re a greater fool.

If you claim that people could beat chicken pox, smallpox, measles and polio without vaccines, you’re a dangerous tool of crackpot evil.

Maybe it is our social system that needs a rethink, because if you examine Amazonian tribal communities, who have had little to no contact with the outside world, you find a distinct lack of disease in these societies.

There’s a whopper I’d like to see some serious studies on.

That testifies to a lack of virus transmission, but you will also find a distinct surplus of diseases that diet can’t cure.  Someday spend some time studying Huntington’s Disease, Huntington’s Chorea, and how the prevalence of the disease in one of those isolated Amazonian tribes contributed to the search for a cause.  Of course, almost every member of that tribe had the disease.  (It’s genetic, and no vaccine can prevent or cure — yet.)  You’ll also find they die of bacterial diseases that modern medicine can treat — those physicians you mock.

Dirty living equals disease; an unclean polluted environment equals disease; the addition of chemicals to our food, drink and drinking water equals disease; when are we going to wake up and realise that the cause of disease is not some unknown, unfortunate ‘random factor’, but the way we live our lives.

Of course, clean living increases asthma.  A lack of pollution tends to correlate with lack of civilization.  The absence of chlorine in our drinking water contributes to cholera epidemics and typhoid, the lack of fluorine in our water means more dental caries and brain infections.  Trace amounts of iodine in salt have all but eliminated goiter.  When are you going to wake up and realize that some disease causes are well known, some diseases easily preventable, and life is complex and cannot be made perfectly safe with today’s technology, but was a minefield of deadly infections without today’s technology?

If we live our lives soaked in superstition and crank science, we haven’t even a prayer (full irony intended).  You’re not advocating for better health.  You’re ranting about stuff you don’t know about.

Although in the case of Baxter the cause of the so called ’swine flu virus’ may well have been them!

I think there’s a better case that you are the cause of swine flu than there is a case that any drug company manufactured the stuff.  Among other clues you should look at is the prevalence of swine flu in swine populations around the world — today and historically.  Influenza viruses tend to be species specific, and it’s actually quite rare for them to jump species.  That’s why, when they jump, they can be so deadly.

But then, that’s what you’re campaigning for, right?  You’d love to see a virus wipe out most people, especially those with scientific knowledge — right, Simon?

Ugh.

Get an education about flu and other viruses:

Don’t let your friends go without this information, please:

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Straight talk: Berenbaum on DDT and malaria

August 12, 2009

Plus, she’ll answer your questions.

But hurry.

One of the world’s great authorities on mosquitoes, May Berenbaum at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, spends this week talking about mosquitoes and malaria, and answering your questions.

Public Radio International runs a feature this week with Dr. Berenbaum answering questions.

(Hey, Beck!  Are you decent this week?)

(Steven Milloy?  Got the guts to ask a real scientist a question?)

You should see these first:

Life Cycle of Malaria, WHO and Campaign to Roll Back Malaria

Life Cycle of Malaria, WHO and Campaign to Roll Back Malaria

You like straight talk – why not share it with others?

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