Praying to DDT for a miracle that DDT cannot work

November 11, 2007

Evolution denier Ray Bohlin is in Liberia telling the Liberians their salvation lies with DDT, at least in fighting malaria. Wholly apart from the theological problems of elevating a chlorinated hydrocarbon killer to the level of idolic deity, DDT can’t solve the many problems that conspire to keep Liberia in the grip of DDT as a killer of children and pregnant women.

What an odd conflict of faith and science. Bohlin is a Christian. His strong faith in DDT is a double puzzle.

[And, what is it with all this denial? Creationist/IDist/evolution deniers tend heavily to be HIV deniers as well, and global warming deniers — now DDT deniers? Have they all had close encounters of the third kind, too? Is it a virus? Is it a cult?]

Fighting malaria in Africa requires a concentrated, integrated plan that provides appropriate medical care to cure any human who contracts malaria, thus breaking a key link in the malaria cycle. Malaria kills children under 5 and pregnant women in larger percentages than other people. Bohlin correctly notes that malaria kills, and that the disease disrupts the nation’s economy. But his recommendation that Liberians increase DDT use, in the absence of an integrated pest management plan, is a prescription for dashed hopes at best, and disaster at worst.

Bohlin seems to urge junk science. DDT offers significant dangers, which Bohlin seems blithely to ignore.

Why won’t DDT help much in the fight against malaria?

Wholly apart from the inherent problems of DDT — mosquitoes develop immunity, or already are immune; DDT kills beneficial insect and arachnid predators of malaria vectors, so the mosquitoes come back in geometrically increased numbers; DDT kills the food fish of people who live on fish; DDT kills reptile, mammal and bird predators of mosquitoes, so the mosquito population roars back with increased killing efficiency — DDT cannot solve the other problems that play a greater role in frustrating the fight against malaria. DDT doesn’t treat the disease once humans catch it; DDT is just one, small tool to prevent infection, and perhaps not the most effective. Read the rest of this entry »

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