We recently posted on the three major fronts in the battle over how to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. One we named Charge of the Risk Brigades, epitomizing the disagreements over priority. The Charge involves repeated skirmishes about which 'horse of the environmental apocolypse' to work on first. And, wouldn't you know, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a.k.a. the Big C, has joined the fray with an op.ed. piece published in the Washington Times . Here's the portion of that commentary that reminds us of 'The Charge': "Beginning in the 1970s, regulators around the world followed Rachel Carson's suggestion that lawmakers ban the pesticide DDT, once used to control malaria, because they figured bed nets and other measures were enough. After millions of deaths and hundreds of millions of people falling sick every year for a couple decades, World Health Organization regulators and officials finally decided DDT should be used to curb the death toll. Tragically, millions had to die before officials realized the Greens were wrong". Who knew that the World Health Organization was a regulatory body?This fits with CEIs tactics; such as we've covered them previously, here, and here, for example. The author of this particular piece, CEI's expert, Ms. Angela Logomasini, (check out the expert's bio-sketch here) lists several other examples of the death, destruction, and mistaken projections left on the world's doorstep over the years by Tree-Hugger types.
Apparently, CEI has an insufficient fact-checking budget; else they would have noted that DDT was never fully "banned" from manufacture; that it continued to be available where developing nations preferred that option. It is true, however, following emergence in the 1970s of evidence that DDT posed a developmental hazard to wildlife, and in response to growing awareness of the resistance that mosquitoes had built up after decades of high DDT use rates, that other pesticides were used extensively for malaria control programs, with varying degrees of success. In recent decades, unfortunately, malaria control measures were inadequate for the poor and especially for the young of developing nations, sometimes through failures of national governance, or from lack of financial resources and training. This trend overlapped with a trend of booming population growth in developing nations, with children highly exposed in flooded slums or in poorly drained agricultural areas, far from malaria control resources and know-how. Hence, the present day epidemic of malaria is serious indeed: but not due solely to absence of DDT as a malaria control resource.
Had CEI bothered to look, they may also have discovered what credible environmentalists know: early investigations which gave indication that DDT may be a human carcinogen were viewed with less certainty as more investigations were completed (although we seem to recall more recent evidence that a breakdown product, DDE, is hazardous to humans). That is how science works. More importantly, DDT's endocrine disrupting effect on wildlife, infamously shown to have caused widespread reproductive failures of the Bald Eagle, Osprey, and other treasured North American birds, was the symbolic issue behind the phase out.
Saving the Bald Eagle and Osprey from extinction is an accomplishment that US environmentalists are still very proud of. What patriot would not be? (No offense to those of our readers too young to have lived through the infant years of the environmental movement, when the symbol of the US Federacy was saved.)
Failing to provide sufficient malaria fighting resources, either through the UN or directly to nations experiencing a malaria epidemic, especially a juvenile epidemic, is not something we environmentalists would ever be proud of. No one wants kids to get sick.
TreeHuggers love eagles and kids. Just in case there might be any misunderstanding.
In contrast to the profile in the CEI piece, some things were done right. Besides saving the Bald Eagle, modeling the ozone depletion over the earth's poles was effectively done. Implementing a worldwide program to mitigate the ozone depletion problem is a success in progress.
EPA's Green Lights program turned out to be cool: compact fluorescents are so popular now that Wal-Mart customers love them. LED lights are so practical that even the Amish favor them.
Can't build those wind farms fast enough. But, we're watching the eagles to make sure they can handle the exposure. Just in case.
Teddy Roosevelt did such a great job with the National Parks that the idea has been emulated in many nations.
And, let's not forget the hazardous waste program that USEPA oversees, which was responsible for closing down hundreds of dangerous 'sham recyclers.' Good for property values and healthy kids.
Perhaps our readers would help CEI by adding more successes to this list we've just started. Then, next time CEI wants to mount a charge, they can check here to help focus on the real mistakes. Example: Promotion of MTBE as a fuel oxygenate. Or was that an industry idea? Not sure. Anyhow, comment away.
Photo credit: Richard Mosel, represented by Fox Park Gallery.