One of the key hoax points of the pro-DDT crowd claims that most early studies on the harms of DDT — from 1945 into the 1970s — must be dismissed because chemists then could not distinguish DDT from PCBs.
Chemically, were that the case at any point, modern methods of spectrophotometry would allow the retesting of tissues, or egg shells, or anything sampled years ago. Why not retest?
I stumbled into this interview with Art Cooley, one of the early activists with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) (now just “Environmental Defense”). In it, Cooley said that EDF had been able to establish that DDT can be distinguished from PCBs.
Which case is he talking about, in Wisconsin? What was its outcome? Which research papers, where, discuss how to tell DDT from PCBs? This appears to be one more point where the hoaxsters exploited a general lack of specific information about a case. What will the record show?
Climate Action Can’t Rest: Q&A with Art Cooley
With the Senate apparently giving up on its efforts to pass a strong climate and energy bill this year, we took some time to talk with several EDF experts to help provide a broader perspective and describe some of the other important ways we are fighting to cut global warming pollution.
We begin this series with Art Cooley, who helped found EDF in 1967 to campaign against the use of DDT. Art remains on EDF’s board as a founding trustee.
Question: You helped found EDF more than 40 years ago. Can you tell us a bit about the early years and what EDF’s mission has been since?
We originally got started because we were concerned about the decline of ospreys on Long Island. We started by looking at the science and the case we put together — the effect on brown pelicans and peregrine falcons and bald eagles and ospreys — was compelling. It was DDT.
In one of our first cases in Wisconsin they tried to confuse the debate and tell us that we couldn’t differentiate between DDT and PCBs. Well, we plotted out evidence and showed that in fact yes we could tell the difference, and so weren’t confusing the effects from DDT with other chemicals.
That focus on science has always been central to our work. And getting the science right remains at the core of our mission today, which is why we are all so concerned about climate change.