I thought this might be a good time to put up a collection of different posts I (and others) have written about the ongoing attacks on Rachel Carson.
What’s the issue?
A Salon article (with more from May Berenbaum!) provides a nice introduction:
Socrates Litsios, a historian and former scientist for the World Health Organization (the agency that has headed global malaria control efforts since the 1960s), says the assertion that “Silent Spring” and the DDT ban led to millions of deaths is “outrageous.” May Berenbaum, head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has studied mosquitoes and malaria, says that “to blame environmentalists who oppose DDT for more deaths than Hitler is worse than irresponsible.”
Here’s the “CliffsNote” version of every link that’s on this post:
DDT is NOT a cure-all solution for malaria. It has to be used–if it is used–carefully, with planning, evaluation, and forethought. It’s easy to understand why some folks want DDT to be a panacea–Malaria is a horrible disease, and children suffer the most. But jumping in and randomly spraying DDT can have the potential to make things worse, not better, in the long run.
Is DDT Safe, and a way to “fix” malaria?
Short Answer: No.
- Part 1: Malaria, mortality, and blame: Is the claim that DDT could/ would save millions valid?
- Part 2: DDT and Insecticide resistance: why DDT isn’t a cure-all
- An AWESOME letter to the editor from a parasitologist
- Two scholarly entomology articles address the history of Silent Spring, including information about pesticide bans.
- I summarize some info from US Fish and Wildlife (Carson’s employer) in this post.
- Setting the record Straight on Rachel Carson. Ed@Millard Fillmore has an extensive collection of links on that post to sources all over the net.
- Ed has undertaken the daunting project of examining all the claims point by point made at JunkScience.
- Here’s the second of Ed’s posts in the series, and the third.
- Human health and DDT. Summary: it’s very bad for you.
- DDT Persistence and risks
- Ed uncovers some early documents indicating problems with DDT (and more here)
Whose idea was this, anyway?
The people who seem to be orchestrating some of the attacks have been masterfully tracked down by Deltoid, et al. over at ScienceBlogs.
- Who put the contract out on Rachel Carson?
- Follow the money
- His awesome “disinformation cycle” graphic
- All of Deltoid’s DDT posts
Other interesting items:
- The Rachel Carson Centennial Book Club
- The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, including links to some of her essays.
- An editorial from Chemical and Engineering News
- DDT: Fallen Angel (PDF) (DDT in India)
- A post from Celcius also exploring innacuracies in the pro-DDT folks arguments
- DDT myths from Pesticide Action Network (Note: I frequently disagree with PAN–they’re a bit alarmist–but this article has quite a few nice references.)
- A PR campaign from an Astroturf group to promote DDT
- Research on bednets, and how DDT hampers their effectiveness
- Research on the effectiveness of bednets
- The author of National Geographic’s very positive DDT piece turns out to have a history of making stuff up
- An Open Access Malaria journal
- DDT endocrine disruption info from National Academy of Science
- Why I care enough about this to spend weeks on this project
If you read the “why I care” perhaps you’ll do me a favor.
First, if you know of good online resources that should be added to this list, please mention them in the comments. (Note that all comments with links are moderated). Second, if you have a blog, please link to this page, or to one of the other blogs or articles in this post. Right now, when you search for “Rachel Carson and DDT” on Google, all you get are hate sites. It’s amazing how full the net is of this misinformation.
If you have pages that discuss Carson as the talented writer and observer of nature, add her name to your tags. Let’s take Rachel’s reputation back!
EDITED 7/1/07 to add the next in the MFB/Ed’s series.
EDITED 8/10/08 to add more links