Jewish World Review April 27, 2004 / 6 Iyar, 5764
Are the 'Greens' killing blacks?
G-d bless The New York Times.
Unlike the rest of the East Coast left-liberal-environmental-wacko media complex, it is not afraid to speak well of dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane DDT to you English lit majors.
Two Sundays ago, in fact, The Times devoted six pages of its esteemed Sunday magazine to explaining why DDT is a wonder pesticide, not the killer you and your children have been misled into thinking it is for four decades.
It's truly shocking to see The Times' important assault on enviro-political correctness. The headline "What the World Needs Now is DDT" is brave.
And the subhead asks the morally correct rhetorical question: "Malaria kills millions of people every year. The careful use of DDT in developing countries could drastically reduce that number. So why are we standing in the way?
Tina Rosenberg, a Times editorial writer, delivers all the important/amazing pro-DDT facts you need. She explains how it is cheap, unsurpassed in effectiveness by other pesticides and safe for humans.
She reports how spraying DDT on crops and on the interior walls of houses in the '50s and '60s all-but eradicated the deadly scourge of malaria from the developed world.
But today, with DDT use prohibited or strongly discouraged by the insane anti-DDT policies of foreign-aid agencies, between 300 million and 500 million humans get malaria each year. Already-poor African economies are crippled by it. Two million die from it in Africa alone. Most are children under 5.
The virtual global outlawing of DDT is thanks in large part to Pittsburgh's great junk-scientist, Rachel Carson, founding mother of the environmental movement and patron saint of millions of Al Gores.
Her book "Silent Spring," serialized in 1962 in The New Yorker and hyped beyond reason by credulous media, pointed out the tragic consequences of DDT's overuse in North America (mainly by cotton farmers and pushy government agricultural agencies) on things like the thickness of eagle's eggs.
But as Rosenberg points out, Carson conveniently "forgot" to point out the counterbalancing scientific factoid that DDT had, by 1962, saved upwards of hundreds of millions of lives. Of course, they were only humans.
Folks of the nonliberal persuasion, including this newspaper and even New Yorker magazine itself (perhaps for reasons of guilt), already have decried the tragic idiocy of banning DDT.
Others, as Rosenberg carefully does, have noted the immoral hypocrisy of enviro-weenies in rich, developed countries that have already benefited from DDT's magic depriving poor brown and black countries of a cheap, proven life saver.
But Rosenberg's piece is a major turning point. She's writing in The New York Times, which, despite recent credibility and bias problems, remains the single most influential force in the world of mainstream (i.e., liberal) journalism.
That means Rosenberg's defense of DDT, and her scolding of environmentalists and international do-gooder agencies, will not be ignored. It will be echoed by editorialists at a hundred daily newspapers who look slavishly to the Almighty Times for cues on what issues are newsworthy and what is politically OK to believe.
The liberal Times has spoken. DDT is no longer the devil. Look for it to be rehabilitated soon on "60 Minutes" and the cover of Newsweek. Stand by for Bono's "Concert for a Lovely Pesticide." And if we're lucky, in 100 years, our descendants will be able to find a balanced treatment of DDT and Carson in their schoolbooks.
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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald