Meanwhile, back at the rice paddy, global warming holds families hostage . . .

May 1, 2013

See this United Nations Development Program ten-minute video that, to the wise and concerned, lays out the stakes of delaying action against human-caused climate change.

Without enough funding, NGOs work to help farmers getting hammered in the Southern Philippines, and other places.

In the Southern Philippines, farmers’ lives and the weather are intimately interwoven, but something is changing, now that the rains in Agusan del Norte are too heavy, the sun shines too fiercely. Now there’s hope for poor farmers with the community-based approach monitoring and Weather Index-Based Insurance packages, to warn people when heavy weather is on the way.

Though, I do weary of the astonishing abuse of acronyms in this work-of-the-angels. “WIBI?”

Incidentally, though the phrase doesn’t appear anywhere in this material, this is exactly the sort of work carried on by the UN’s Agenda 21 project.  Doesn’t look subversive to me.

Tip of the old scrub brush to the UNDP and ILO Tweet:

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Map of the Philippines with Agusan del Norte h...

Map of the Philippines with Agusan del Norte highlighted. Wikipedia image


Still no ban on DDT: Treaty monitors allow DDT use to continue

December 16, 2012

Real news on a topic like DDT takes a while to filter into the public sphere, especially with interest groups, lobbyists and Astro-Turf groups working hard to fuzz up the messages.

News from the DDT Expert Group of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention was posted recently at the Stockholm Convention website — the meeting was held in early December in Geneva, Switzerland.

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pol...

Logo of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Treaty) Wikipedia image

In the stuffy talk of international relations, the Stockholm Convention in this case refers to a treaty put into effect in 2001, sometimes known as the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty (POPs).  Now with more than 152 signatory nations and 178 entities offering some sort of ratification (not the U.S., sadly), the treaty urges control of chemicals that do not quickly break down once released into the environment, and which often end up as pollutants.  In setting up the agreement, there was a list of a dozen particularly nasty chemicals branded the “Dirty Dozen” particularly targeted for control due to their perniciousness — DDT was one of that group.

DDT can still play a role in fighting some insect-carried diseases, like malaria.  Since the treaty was worked out through the UN’s health arm, the World Health Organization (WHO), it holds a special reservation for DDT, keeping DDT available for use to fight disease.   Six years ago WHO developed a group to monitor DDT specifically, looking at whether it is still needed or whether its special provisions should be dropped.  The DDT Expert Group meets every two years.

Here’s the press release on the most recent meeting:

Stockholm Convention continues to allow DDT use for disease vector control

Fourth meeting of the DDT Expert Group assesses continued need for DDT, 3–5 December 2012, Geneva

Mosqutio larvae, image from WHO

Mosqutio larvae, WHO image

The Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention, under the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), allows the use of the insecticide DDT in disease vector control to protect public health.

Mosquito larvae

The Stockholm Convention lists dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known at DDT, in its Annex B to restrict its production and use except for Parties that have notified the Secretariat of their intention to produce and /or use it for disease vector control. With the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating the use of DDT, the Convention requires that the Conference of the Parties shall encourage each Party using DDT to develop and implement an action plan as part of the implementation plan of its obligation of the Convention.

At its fifth meeting held in April 2011, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention concluded that “countries that are relying on DDT for disease vector control may need to continue such use until locally appropriate and cost-effective alternatives are available for a sustainable transition away from DDT.” It also decided to evaluate the continued need for DDT for disease vector control at the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties “with the objective of accelerating the identification and development of locally appropriate cost-effective and safe alternatives.”

The DDT Expert Group was established in 2006 by the Conference of the Parties. The Group is mandated to assess, every two years, in consultation with the World Health Organization, the available scientific, technical, environmental and economic information related to production and use of DDT for consideration by the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention in its evaluation of continued need for DDT for disease vector control.

The fourth meeting of the DDT Expert Group reviewed as part of this ongoing assessment:

  1. Insecticide resistance (DDT and alternatives)
  2. New alternative products, including the work of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee
  3. Transition from DDT in disease vector control
  4. Decision support tool for vector control.

The DDT expert group recognized that there is a continued need for DDT in specific settings for disease vector control where effective or safer alternatives are still lacking. It recommended that the use of DDT in Indoor Residual Spray should be limited only to the most appropriate situations based on operational feasibility, epidemiological impact of disease transmission, entomological data and insecticide resistance management. It also recommended that countries should undertake further research and implementation of non-chemical methods and strategies for disease vector control to supplement reduced reliance on DDT.

The findings of the DDT Expert Group’s will be presented at the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, being held back-to-back with the meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Rotterdam and Basel conventions, from 28 April to 11 May 2013, in Geneva.

Nothing too exciting.  Environmentalists should note DDT is still available for use, where need is great.  Use should be carefully controlled.  Pro-DDT propagandists should note, but won’t, that there is no ban on DDT yet, and that DDT is still available to fight malaria, wherever health workers make a determination it can work.  If anyone is really paying attention, this is one more complete and total refutation of the DDT Ban Hoax.

Rachel Carson’s ghost expresses concern that there is not yet a safe substitute for DDT to fight malaria, but is gratified that disease fighters and serious scientists now follow the concepts of safe chemical use she urged in 1962.

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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.

RBM World Malaria Day 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).


George Clooney’s malaria? DDT didn’t cure it

January 25, 2011

Not sure why, but pro-DDT sites have been harping about George Clooney’s having contracted malaria, a second time, while performing one of his humanitarian acts in southern Sudan.

George Clooney in Sudan, Time Magazine photo

George Clooney in Sudan, Time Magazine photo

True, Clooney got malaria.  His take?

“This illustrates how with proper medication, the most lethal condition in Africa can be reduced to bad ten days instead of a death sentence.”

Sometimes it may pay to remember that malaria is disease caused by a parasite who must live part of its life cycle in humans, and part of its life in mosquitoes.  Killing mosquitoes only works until the next susceptible mosquito comes along to bite an infected human.

The goal of malaria prevention and eradication campaigns generally is to cure the humans, so regardless how many mosquitoes may be in a given location and regardless how many people they may bite, there is no malaria pool for the mosquitoes to draw from, to spread to other humans.

To beat malaria, we need to prevent the spread of the disease.  At some point that requires providing quick and accurate diagnoses of which parasites cause the infection, and a complete and completed regimen of therapeutic pharmaceuticals to actuall cure the human victims.  DDT is mostly a bystander in that crucial part of the fight.

What was Clooney doing in Sudan?  According to the New York Daily News:

Clooney was in Sudan in December to work with Google and the UN on a human rights project that combines satellite imagery analysis and field reports to prevent a new war from occurring in the troubled country.

“We want to let potential perpetrators of genocide and other war crimes know that we’re watching, the world is watching,” he said in a statement at the time. “War criminals thrive in the dark. It’s a lot harder to commit mass atrocities in the glare of the media spotlight.”

Do you consider it odd that Clooney’s contracting malaria might gather more news in western outlets than his actual trip to Sudan, to call attention to the campaign against genocide?

Global warming a piffle by comparison

October 26, 2007

Plant in drought-riven soil

Here’s the word from Bob Parks’ great e-letter, “What’s New,”October 26, 2007 edition; I’ve highlighted some stuff:

2. ENVIRONMENT: MAJOR U.N. REPORT SAYS IT’S “UNSUSTAINABLE.” According to a story in the New York Times this morning, a report issued by the United Nations yesterday in Paris is so frightening that French President Nicolas Sarkozy immediately put $1.4 billion into new energy sources and biodiversity. Unsustainable consumption of resources and population growth is taking Earth beyond the point of no return. As an example, the report says, two and a half times as many fish are being caught as the oceans can produce in a sustainable manner. No word yet from Washington on the U.S. response. No steps taken to protect the environment will help in the long run if population continues to grow.

Denialists will start whining in just a few seconds. Three . . . two . . . one . . .

Considering the weather (everywhere), fires in California, droughts in Georgia, the Nobel Peace Prize this year, you’d think this would be front page news.  Where did it run in your local paper?

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