Yes, we are the idiots.
On the subject of insect control and DDT:
If fly spray has chemicals in it that are apparently fatally toxic to insects and potentially toxic to humans to some degree, and if the same is true of DDT, then I would not want either substance in my environment. They are potentially hazardous. For this reason I would NOT recommend spraying fly spray or DDT around the home and I would avoid exposing my family to either of these toxins/poisons.
The usual risks from toxins are typically:
(a) unknown direct harm (e.g., including cancer or organ damage) to the individuals exposed to them;
(b) unknown harm to the structure of their genes or chromosomes or reproductive functions, resulting in sterility or abnormalities - e.g., deformities or retardation - in their children.
Given these risks, to expose yourself or oblige your family to be exposed (especially without their choice) to such toxins would seem to be irresponsible if not reprehensible.
However, I would not see my risk-averse choice (above) as mandating that we ban the use of fly spray and I can't see why we should treat DDT any differently. I had never quite understood what was so 'bad' about DDT. In other words, why was it banned and not other insecticides? If DDT was indeed banned largely because of statements made in a book written for profit, then would that be a rational and scientific approach to the perceived problem? It doesn't seem to be rational.
What I would be VERY wary of is any manufacturer lobby insisting that their products were "safe" according to research sponsored by them. For example, asbestos manufacturers, cigarette manufacturers, DDT manufacturers, GM corn manufacturers - the list would be long.
An interesting green eco-fascist idea has recently been resurrected, viz:
Instead of being obsessed with killing insects, why not consume insects? Thus controlling the insect population and enjoying a varied diet with more protein.
Perhaps insects could be ground up like herbs and spices and used to flavour "exotic" dishes. Insects would have less fat than meat and more likely be better for your digestive system (this is a purely speculative conclusion of course). I can find no research to suggest that consuming large quantities of insects is linked to bowel cancer - unlike consuming red meat. Perhaps you could mash up insects and make a "all insect pattie" - rather like the new angus burger at McDonalds.
Perhaps flies have health properties when ingested, perhaps they could be marketed as the new "super oil" (like omega 3 fish oils). Imagine that!
One interesting "scientific" perspective on DDT: http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/ddt.htm
However, I suspect that that website in particular would be unlikely to be able to provide a balanced view of any pesticide/insecticide, as it has pretty clearly stated beliefs and objectives for a UK free of the use of pesticides, and seems to refer to the Pan-god, which has religious overtones.
There's quite a good and balanced overview of DDT (certainly better than in pan-uk.org) in Wikipedia, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT
As a keen environmentalist, I have, over the years, used DDT and read up a heck of a lot on the subject of this and other man-made toxins. My reading and the instructions on the DDT packets pointed out that DDT was safe to use, but only as long as it was used with care.
The book Silent Spring (1962) merely suggested that DDT and other pesticides may cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds.
It offered no scientific proof - which is why the UK and USAID continued to use the stuff until 1984 and later, and until it became politically incorrect to continue to use it - i.e., not scientifically incorrect.
DDT was regarded as being as harmless (i.e., "mildly hazardous") to humans as the plant-based Derris Dust (rotenone), which latter is still sold by Yates today as an "organically permissible" pesticide - though some countries have banned it for "organic" status as a result of its modern "politically incorrect" status.
Whilst it might feel satisfying to talk humourously about using insects as a source of food flavouring or protein, we need to acknowledge that many countries do in fact already use insects for just such purposes. For example, in Thailand, where one of the delicacies in the rice-farming areas is an iridescent green-backed flying beetle that is a particular favourite amongst children and adults alike. The Thais catch them with lamps that attract the beetles at night, and the beatles fall off the lamps into a bucket of water below. My daughter Lily loves to eat them. Having eaten them myself - as well as other insects - I have to say that I don't find them particularly tasty and cannot see what all the fuss is about.
Now take a look at what Wikipedia says about malaria at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria
This is an extract:
"Each year, there are approximately 350–500 million cases of malaria, killing between one and three million people, the majority of whom are young children in sub-Saharan Africa."
After it had been discovered during the second half of World War II that DDT enabled real control of malaria and typhus amongst civilians and troops, DDT was used extensively and had almost eradicated malaria in some parts of the world. When it ceased to be used, the malaria came back, so millions of people - mostly children - had to die each year again.
Now try telling those children as they lie dying, and their families, that this massive scale of death is justified because some Westerners think that DDT is bad for them.
That may be only half the story of the use of DDT. The other half would be in its use as a highly effective crop pesticide.
It is thus easy to understand why the Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948:
"for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods."
All this may not stop you from continuing to try to justify your pumping known
toxic pesticides (fly spray chemicals) into your own household environments - toxins that merely kill an annoying pest (household flies). Of course, you would do this through freedom of choice.
We in the western civilisations are fortunate in that we will not have to watch our children die of malaria by the millions. You can be sure that if they did start to die of it, then we would rapidly deploy DDT or invent some even more effective malarial control. We are already using crop herbicides, crop pesticides and animal pesticides by the mega-tons, and genetically modified seed which is resistant to these chemicals, which is one reason why we can produce more than enough food for our needs.
The majority of people affected by malaria are those living in poverty and do not have a choice.
Malaria effectively aggravates the state of poverty - which is the world's biggest killer and the greatest cause of ill-health and suffering across the globe. It is listed almost at the end of the WHO International Classification of Diseases. It is given the code Z59.5 - extreme poverty. DDT is one of the few things that has made any major dent in the statistics for global poverty and its associated human misery, and yet it has been pushed aside because it was made politically (not scientifically) incorrect by the book "The Silent Spring" (1962).
Just as a rough estimate, let's suppose that since (say) 1970, DDT ceased to be used (was banned for use) to control malaria, and that (say) at least 1.5million children died from malaria each year since then as a result. That's approx 40 years and 60 million dead children to date.
We could perhaps argue about precise numbers, but this estimate helps us to get the general idea of the scale of the thing.
So, this estimated 60 million children were apparently sentenced to die from what could have been an otherwise avoidable disease - malaria. The only reason those children were sentenced to die was because they suffered from another disease - Z59.5 (extreme poverty). Because they were children and had Z59.5, they had no franchise - no voice - in the arbitrary decision made by wealthy western nations to withhold the only known defence that could have saved them - DDT. We
committed those 60 million children to death, and we currently commit somewhere between 1.5 and 3.0 million more children to death each year by the same means.
That 60 million is a staggering number of children to kill by default, made all the more worse a crime because it continues and may have been because DDT became politically unacceptable due to a fascist green whim regarding DDT and because someone wanted to write a best-selling book based on insubstantial scientific evidence.
If the Wikipedia and other balanced articles are anything to go by, then we should not forget that it is apparently acknowledged that not only was the case against DDT far from being categorically scientifically proven at the time the book was published, but also a substantive part of that case still remains to be proved. We have apparently become and continue to be mass murderers through our own passivity and ignorance and now including from our belief
in the relatively new religion of greenie.
It is our beliefs that are become fatal to so many others, coupled with our avoidance - even hatred - of anything which might test or contradict that belief. This is a fascistic religion where the belief, dogma and religio-political ideology are more important than, and come at the cost of, the deaths of millions of innocent children.
- (a) have withheld DDT from these innocents, thereby ensuring their deaths in the millions each year;
- (b) have done this because we believed we were right to do so and that somehow this would save even more lives in our societies ("for the greater good");
- (c) withheld DDT without offering any reasonable or effective substitute (QED);
- (d) did this without knowing for certain whether we were right (QED);
- then arguably we could well deserve the charge of mass complicity in mass murder on a scale that beggars belief and that would make Hitler seem like a rank amateur.
We did this. We are