This coming Sunday would've been Silent Spring author and environmental hero Rachel Carson's 100th birthday. In recognition of Carson's contributions to the creation of the modern environmental movement, Sen. Benjanmin L. Cardin (D-MD) has announced his intentions to submit a resolution celebrating Carson's work. While most treehuggers would consider this a no-brainer, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has announced that if Cardin submits his proposal, he will block it. According to the Washington Post,
In a statement on his Web site [Tuesday], Coburn (R) confirmed that he is holding up the bill. In the statement, he blames Carson for using "junk science" to turn public opinion against chemicals, including DDT, that could prevent the spread of insect-borne diseases such as malaria, which is spread by mosquitoes.
Coburn, whose Web site says he is a doctor specializing in family medicine, obstetrics and allergies, said in the statement that 1 million to 2 million people die of malaria every year.
"Carson was the author of the now-debunked 'The Silent Spring,' " Coburn's statement reads. "This book was the catalyst in the deadly worldwide stigmatization against insecticides, especially DDT."
While Coburn has the right to argue about Carson's legacy, his stance is striking many as unreasonable... even people the Senator might normally list as allies. Roger Bate, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, noted that Carson died soon after the publication of Silent Spring, so perhaps Dr. Coburn is overstating her influence on efforts to completely eliminate DDT use to fight malaria. Carson biographer Linda Lear notes "Carson was never against the use of DDT, ... She was against the misuse of DDT."
Malaria is a serious health issue in the developing world, and deserves serious debate over the most effective ways to combat it. Refusing to honor Rachel Carson seems like, at best, a roundabout way of bringing this issue into the spotlight. ::Washington Post via alirae at Hugg
Image sources: Washington Post, Senator Coburn's website