Ahh despite so many unfounded assurances that we are all going to fry like bacon due to global warming, we have suffered under one of the most delayed springs in my recollection.
Spring is now finally here though and along with it are the ravenous mosquitoes who have been delayed in their early feeding season.
Not only do mosquitos ruin barbeques or long walks in the park, the nasty little fellas are responsible for millions of deaths worldwide. Malaria alone kills an estimated 1 million people per year.
Back before the enviro-hysteria had DDT banned all over the place due to some rather shaky evidence, it had been found to be incredibly effective in reducing malaria infections in third-world locales. In India, DDT use reduced annual infections from 8 million cases to 50,000 (rather effective I would say). In Sri Lanka between 1934 and 1955 there were 1.5 million reported cases of malaria. When DDT was brought into use in Sri Lanka cases of malaria dropped to a reported 17 in 1963. When DDT use was halted, malaria cases in Sri Lanka rebounded to 600,000.
Despite the fact that DDT was saving lives in the hundreds of thousands, people living in the comfort of the developed world where malaria is not a problem decided to go on an international rampage about this.
The egg thinning theory regarding some pretty birds was the main culprit behind the screeching for bans of this marvelous chemical. Who cares if hundreds of thousands of rather disheveled looking third-world people die? Apparently these people are worthy of sacrifice if we can increase the breeding levels of some carnivorous birds. While the evidence that DDT saves countless people is pretty clear, the evidence of DDT causing harm to birds is not quite so well documented.
The eco-movement knows a good myth to perpetuate when they see one though. Just as they latch on to fuzzy seals and polar bears as figures to promote (despite neither being threatened), they have found that many donors to the cause are moved by the potential plight majestic birdies. No sense letting facts get in the way when the contributions are rolling in eh?
If nothing else, the anti-human eco-kooks are good with marketing. I can see them vetting poster and flyer covers in some studio apartment.
Perfect, big eyes and clean and fuzzy. Disney could not have drawn something so cute. Who cares if the babies are no longer hunted, we need to put people out work in Labrador.
Ahh look at that. It could have been one of the stuffed toys in a child’s bedroom. Who cares if their population is exploding, lets put some Inuit out of work and call them threatened.
Ahh. majestic and a national symbol for many. We must imply that these birdies are at risk.
Eeeeek. Too much reality. Get that picture out of there and keep encouraging use of food crops for biofuel. The mosquitoes will take care of those that don’t starve. It takes actual groundwork to help those people anyway, it is much easier to lobby for baseless bannings!
Most of the myth came from the book “Silent Spring” where some info was erroneously written.
“Rachel Carson sounded the initial alarm against DDT, but represented the science of DDT erroneously in her 1962 book Silent Spring.Carson wrote “Dr. DeWitt’s now classic experiments [on quail and pheasants] have now established the fact that exposure to DDT, even when doing no observable harm to the birds, may seriously affect reproduction. Quail into whose diet DDT was introduced throughout the breeding season survived and even produced normal numbers of fertile eggs. But few of the eggs hatched.” DeWitt’s 1956 article (in Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry) actually yielded a very different conclusion. Quail were fed 200 parts per million of DDT in all of their food throughout the breeding season. DeWitt reports that 80% of their eggs hatched, compared with the “control”” birds which hatched 83.9% of their eggs. Carson also omitted mention of DeWitt’s report that “control” pheasants hatched only 57 percent of their eggs, while those that were fed high levels of DDT in all of their food for an entire year hatched more than 80% of their eggs. “
One rather uglier reason that some supported the ban on DDT is that they were aware that DDT saves lives but were worked up by the cause of the day trumped up in the book “The population time bomb” that predicted a virtual Armageddon due to increasing world population. Now that nearly 40 years have passed, it can pretty much be safely said that the author of the aforementioned book was full of crap. Despite his being full of crap, many people felt that the world could be saved if enough disease ravaged the third-world and held off that nasty population spike. Of course the supporters of such ideas are usually Volvo driving latte-lappers who have no concept of what suffering is actually occurring in undeveloped countries. They just want to feel better about saving the birdies and seals. People are secondary.
DDT if taken in massive doses can indeed cause trouble to people and critters. Of course, were you to ingest a gallon of the mosquito repellent that you smear on your kids every day, you likely would have some health issues as well. DDT when properly used has far far more benefit than harm.
Aside from malaria, mosquitoes carry and spread all sorts of other nasty bugs. Typhus, St. Louis encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, highlands J virus and of course the one that is spreading to us here and now, West Nile virus.
As usual though, environmentalists are still trying to save the world on the backs of innocent humans. Alderman Brian Pincott in Calgary (predictably) is lobbying for a ban on pesticides in Calgary.
I doubt that Mr. Pincott and his ilk are willing to come over to my place and swat the mosquitoes off my kids in the yard. I doubt that they will come and pull the masses of dandelions that will sprout in my yard or sweep the ants from my kitchen (they will support the cash cow if I get fined for having my weeds out of control).
Look folks, there are all sorts of nasty chemicals out there. Those chemicals have profound benefits though when properly applied and idiotic bannings solve nothing (aside from making the coffee shop crowd feel good). I can see reason for studies on specific chemicals and restrictions on specific usages. Blanket bannings however are idiocy and do much much more harm than good. Calling for blanket bannings is simply laziness and people being indifferent to benefits of chemical usages.
Rest assured, they can ban all they like. I don’t have time to hand-weed my lawn or try to kill ants with soap and water mixes (if even that would be allowed). I will carry on as before though I may have to wait until sundown to do it.