Nkrumahism, The Can Of Worms I Opened – Rachel Carson And DDT

Wed, 24 Jun 2015 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

In Mr Kwarteng’s essay, he made it clear that he couldn’t comprehend why I would introduce the name Rachel Carson, Paul Ehrlick, Al Gore and Kenneth Galbraith. Well, he could have let sleeping dogs lie, but he didn’t. He wanted to show off that he has read everything that matters on God’s planet, and he behaved the classic Platonic assertion that when you teach philosophy to children they react like poppy dogs. I did introduce their names, because they are liars and cheats who were not effaced even when they are proven wrong beyond all reasonable doubt. In the case of Rachel Carson, she did not live long enough to fall into the latter characterisation, because she died two years after the publication of her magnum opus. To Mr Kwarteng, Rachel Carson is the patron saint of American environmentalism, and for that matter the rest of the world. Her lies and obfuscation is what has been adopted wholesale by all those who come after her like Al Gore and Ralph Nader. To the leftist militant environmentalist, to discredit her works is a sacrilege, or for a better word blasphemy to their goddess.

Some of these dimwits behave as if those who don’t share their obsession with environmentalism careless about the environment. Who doesn’t want a clean environment? Who want to live in filth, breathe poisonous fumes, eat contaminated food and drink compromised water sources?

The reason why people don’t live close to active volcanoes is the possibility that it might erupt and cause instant physical damage, or perhaps constant exposure to radioactive substances it spews into the atmosphere. However, due to the knowledge of volcanism violent eruptions can, to some degree, be determined. As a result, especially tourist can go close to active volcanoes that constantly punch the sky with pyroclastic columns of deadly radioactive substances. Of course, they know that those few hours of exposure cannot harm them irrevocably. And that they can easily trade off the wonderful sight of nature’s fireworks and exposure to substances that are insignificant to their health in future, but can be dangerous at high doses.

Doctors will tell you that moderate amounts of alcohol, like red wine, can stave off heart diseases. Then again, in excess, it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, and possibly make you paranoid about your old grandmother. We need oxygen to live, nevertheless, too much of it can kill you. It has been proven that high concentration of oxygen can lead to the growth of cancer, and newly born babies have been made blind for life through high exposure. Obviously, that is the reason why hospitals don’t use oxygen tanks at will. Most modern medical treatments have side effects, which we are willing to swallow and inject into our bodies compared to the alternative that we are not willing to contemplate. For example, childhood immunisation has reduced infantile mortality to the most humanly acceptable levels in most countries. However, some of those vaccines have actually caused the deaths of some children. Certainly, we know that the other option of not having the vaccination can lead to deaths of children in the double digits and perhaps in the triple. So we are able to trade off the few that will die at the hands of the drug, and the many that lose their lives without it. And it is all about trade off, because there is no true perfection of anything in this world. What is true for the human body is also true for the environment.

Silent Spring is the book that put the name of Rachel Carson on the map. It has a direct link to the banning of DDT, which is the most effective insecticide against the malaria parasite. Malaria is a very horrible disease. I was a constant victim until I left the shores of mother Ghana. I believe some of you might have suffered from it once in your life. Normally, headache is the initial symptom, followed by muscle pain then fever kicks in simultaneously with shivers. As the fever gets severe the victim gets to sweat profusely, alternating in cold sweat and sometimes feeling as if he is being incinerated. As the immune system goes full throttle to defend the body, the millions of the plasmodia causing the infirmity, swim up the blood stream to the brain. The brain begins to swell as the other organs also struggles, because the parasites have destroyed so many of the oxygen carrying red blood cells, less are left to sustain vital functions. The lungs then fight for breath and the heart struggles to pump. The blood then acidifies and brain cells die as the body struggles and convulses and finally falls into coma. In most cases the victims, mainly children, die.

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, in short DDT, is a substance that was synthesized by a German chemistry student, Othmer Zeidler, in 1874 for his thesis. In 1939 Paul Herman Muller discovered its potential in the elimination of insects that spread Yellow Fever, Malaria and other arthropods or vector borne diseases. During the Second World War, the potential of this insecticide was established. It was instrumental in the elimination of malaria in Egypt, Brazil, Southern Europe, Southern United States and other areas. With these successes, its usage in industrial setting went overdrive, especially in agriculture. As a result, some malaria vector population developed resistance. However, its potent was left in no doubt due to its success in places like Sri Lanka, which used to have one million cases of malaria per year, but was reduced to double digits in 1963-64 when they started using DDT. On the other hand, when it was stopped for lack of resources malaria cases shot up into the hundreds of thousands just a couple of years after they stopped using it.

The success of DDT was not limited to malaria. In America, it also brought down the destruction of elm trees by the Dutch elm disease. Just like in the case of malaria, when the Americans stopped its usage in combating the Dutch elm disease the elm tree population in America was devastated. The wide use of DDT actually encountered initial opposition in the 40s, and the US government did take some action. However, its fate was sealed when the naturalist author Rachel Carson penned her famous book ‘Silent Spring’. In Silent Spring, she came against DDT with a sledge hammer. The central thesis of her argument was that pesticides, especially DDT were harmful to wild life, the environment and also putting human health at risk. Her book energized the environmental movement into full throttle. It prompted JFK to order an investigation, which came out with recommendation to phase out the use of toxic pesticides. But the greatest culprit on the priority list of the environmentalist was DDT. While the bell tolled for DDT, there were still some strong supporters who were servicing the barricade. The initial ban in 1971 was rolled back by William Ruckelshaus whose decision was based on the studies of EPA’s own internal staff. Nevertheless, it came under heavy criticism that the entomologists who conducted the research were economic entomologists who were possibly on the payroll of agribusiness and, therefore, paid less heed to the environment and human life. The wrangling between those who wanted it banned and those in favour of its usage went back and forth, and eventually the battle that was started by Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ nailed the coffin of DDT in 1973 when US court of appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the EPA had acted properly in nailing DDT. All the same it took quite a while before the venom that ‘Silent Spring’ spewed into the public consciousness accomplished its denouement in places like Britain in 1984.

For all this while there was never any serious scientific challenge to the claims made in ‘Silent Spring’ that lunched the demise of DDT. However, in 1992 DDT had its saviour and advocate in the person of Professor J. Gordon Edwards who has now passed away. He was then an entomologist at the San Jose State University. In 1962, when Rachel Carson published her Silent Spring, he was also a passionate environmentalist who went along with the usual narrative of the movement. According to him, when Rachel Carson published her work he was delighted and couldn’t wait to get his hands on a copy. However, eventually when he got hold of one and read it, he noticed several false statements in the beginning chapters, but he continued nonetheless, because he said, ‘one can overlook such things when they are produced by one’s cohorts, and I did just that.’ Halfway through the book, Professor Edwards became more suspicious, and the realisation dawned that, ‘Rachel Carson was really playing loose with the facts and was also deliberately wording many sentences in such a way as to make them imply certain things without actually saying them. She was carefully omitting everything that failed to support her thesis that pesticides were bad, that industry was bad, and that any scientists who did not support her views were bad.’

Professor Edwards then subjected her bibliography under the electron microscope, and they started coming apart at the seams. He said they were stuffed with unscientific sources and there was deliberate duplication of references to lengthen her bibliography. In the words of Professor Edwards, ‘I began to lose confidence in Rachel Carson, even though I thought as an environmentalist I really should continue to support her.’ From then on, the Professor took time to cross check the references and he found out in short order that they did not support her submission about the dangers of pesticides.

According to the Professor’s piece, even at the time when it was published there were fierce criticism from leading scientist, and it occurred to him that Rachel Carson was not least interested in the truth, and felt cheated together with millions of Americans. With this doubt sown in his mind, he began to read the book again and in his own word, ‘my eyes were open and I was not lulled into believing that her motives were noble and that her statements could be supported by logic and by scientific fact. I wrote my comments down in rough draft style, and gathered together the scientific articles that refuted what Carson had reported the articles indicated. It was a most frustrating experience.’

At this point, the Professor had no choice, but to join those who were opposing the ban of what he described as life saving insecticide. He said he was thrilled when he found some of the scientists he highly respected were testifying in hearings in support of DDT. He continued in his article that, ‘In testifying and speaking in public, I frequently exposed the misleading references Rachel Carson had cited in her book, presenting her statements from ‘Silent Spring’ and then reading the truth from the actual publications she was purporting to characterize. This revealed to the audiences just how untruthful and misleading the allegations of Silent Spring really were.

Now, nearly 30 years later, the controversy is still boiling about how truthful Rachel Carson was. I recently learned that a movie honouring Rachel Carson and Silent Spring is being made for television. Because I believe such a movie would further misinform the public, the media, and our legislators, I decided to type up my original rough notes from 1962-1963 and make them available. Here they are, page by page, starting with her dedication.’ I will entreat everyone reading this article to click on the following link: http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/summ02/Carson.html to read Professor Edwards’ essay. Please you will be doing yourself a favour.

Rachel Carson did not kill anybody in Africa, but the ban of that life-saving insecticide according to Professor Edwards, which her book made it possible, is causing devastation on the continent. Malaria kills people in the millions every year, and DDT in a very controlled usage can bring all this misery to an end if not because it touches on the sensibility of some ignorant leftists who don’t understand the implication of their actions. I hope those new age environmentalists who have not seen the sight of malaria plasmodia in action can witness one and change their attitude on a subject that they have no clue. According to the account of one expect, ‘DDT is relatively cheap, highly effective, and long lasting, and often no other intervention can compare. In the late 1990s, when alternatives to DDT failed because of resistance and caused a malaria epidemic in South Africa, among other measures, a switch back to DDT reduced malaria cases by 93% (from 41,077 to 2,818) in two years. Thanks largely to the use of DDT in Namibia, malaria related hospital admissions and deaths fell by 92% (29,059 to 2,264) and 96% (1,370 to 46) between 2001 and 2009. Similar trends have been seen in Botswana, South Africa, and Swaziland. For these benefits to be outweighed by risks requires reproducible evidence that DDT is dangerous, but none exists. WHO's latest assessment found no evidence for concern "about levels of exposure for any of the end-points that were assessed" in carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity, or developmental toxicity.’

Rachel Carson achieved the establishment of the EPA many years after her death through fraud and lies. And these are the people that Mr Kwarteng supports and heap tonnes of praises on them together with liars like Noam Chomsky. In the case of Chomsky if you want a picture of a liar don’t look any farther; he is a quintessential specimen, which I will prove in my next piece.

Kwarteng asked the question was Carson not influenced by socialist ideas. That is right, and of course she lied copiously like socialist always do, falsification of evidence, deny of atrocities and murdering and maiming of flesh and blood souls. Who claimed that you have to be a capitalist to be an environmentalist? It is their imposition of their world view on the rest of us, which is repugnant. It is their evasion of the truth and their lies that energizes a person like me. Thank you.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina