We have plenty of examples of green Chicken Littles insisting that the sky is falling. The trouble is, when we listen to them, heed their advice, and implement their policies, the solutions are usually much worse than the perceived problems. One classic example of this was the worldwide scare over DDT.
This story is of course quite well known. Indeed, I have written it up in earlier posts as well. So let me here simply repeat what I have said elsewhere:
When DDT was patented as an insecticide in 1939, it was welcomed as a much-needed substitute for the toxic insecticides then commonly in use – arsenic, mercury, fluorine and lead. During World War II, DDT was discovered to kill body lice without adverse effect on humans. All Allied troops, therefore, made use of it, with the result that for the first time in the history of warfare, no Allied soldier was stricken with typhoid fever, which is carried by lice. (More soldiers died from typhus in World War I than from bullets.)
Soon thereafter DDT was being used against all insect-transmitted (and epidemic) diseases, such as yellow fever, encephalitis and malaria. The result was nothing short of miraculous. For example, in 1948, before the use of DDT, there were 2.8 million cases of malaria reported in Sri Lanka; in 1963 there were only 17.
Overuse of the pesticide, however, led to a small amount of DDT being detected in soil, water and animals. Over-reaction followed. Books like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) warned of the demise of all living creatures. As a result, DDT was banned in the US in 1972, despite objections from the scientific community. Much of the rest of the world stopped spraying as well. The result was cataclysmic: in the 1940s, 200 million people a year were stricken with malaria annually, with about two million deaths per year. By 1978 there were 800 million cases of malaria and 8.2 million deaths per year.
The story of DDT illustrates how many of the benefits of modern technology which we now enjoy are under threat by radical environmentalists and pseudo-scientists who are more interested in gaining political control than in pursuing scientific truth.
I raise the story about DDT because it is again being highlighted, this time in an important new documentary which examines this and other green scares. The video is Not Evil, Just Wrong. It has just been released for worldwide viewing, and I had the opportunity of seeing it last night. It is a very important documentary, one which everyone should watch.
It rightly warns us that the climate change zealots are proposing solutions which will bankrupt the economies of the world, and will be especially detrimental to poor people, especially non-whites in the developing world. Already there are very good reviews of this film available, so instead of reinventing the wheel, allow me to simply cite another’s work.
Bob Carter has written a most helpful review of the film for Quadrant magazine, so let me offer some segments of that article. He begins, “This documentary film is an examination of the human effects of environmental alarmism, with especial reference to the still hypothetical ‘problem’ of human-caused global warming. The film is not so much about the science of climate change as it is about explaining the sociology and politics of what is now perhaps the world’s greatest-ever scare campaign.”
The film critiques the flawed IPCC reports, and the bluff and bluster of Al Gore. It shows clips of school children nearly in tears over the supposed near-extinction of polar bears, for example. The film offers expert opinion from a number of authorities, including the former co-founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore.
Says Carter, Moore “proceeds to score a number of Maradonna-quality goals. First, Mr Moore rightly explains that the numbers of polar bears are not decreasing, and that the main threat to them today remains human hunting. Then, in passing, he delivers one of the most important lines in the film – which is that the modern climate change that we observe (warming from 1979 to 1998, and cooling since) all falls ‘well within natural variations that have occurred in the past history of the earth’. And finally, he adds, it would not be at all a bad thing were the earth to chance to warm again, for biodiversity is much greater in warmer climes and lower latitudes. Score: Mr Moore, three – IPCC zero.”
As mentioned, the film rehearses the case against the banning of DDT: “As related by Patrick Moore, ‘Millions of people died over the last 40 or 50 years’ as a result of the ban on DDT use in third-world countries, and ‘malaria sky-rocketed in countries like Uganda, Mozambique and South Africa’. Sam Zaramba, from the Ugandan Health Ministry, relates that 370 children die from malaria every day in his country; it is estimated that between 500 and 800 million people currently have malaria worldwide, mostly in poor countries. Regarding this, Mr Zaramba asks sadly ‘who anointed free-earth, save the earth, global warming crowd, anti-DDT crowd, that the blacks and the other third world people suffer with malaria and mosquitos?’”
As to the claims about man-made climate change, and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, the film makes a number of important points. Carter continues, “The greatest hurt of anti-carbon dioxide taxation, and related measures, will be imposed on third-world countries. As Nigel Lawson points out, those calling for massive carbon dioxide reduction are in fact ‘The enemies of poverty reduction in the developing world’. But, as he added, the man in the street in western countries is also going to be disadvantaged, and has yet to understand that the environmental rhetoric around global warming will cause ‘an increasing cost of energy, slower rate of economic growth and less prosperity all round than would otherwise be the case’.”
Carter concludes, “Not Evil, Just Wrong considers many matters that relate to emissions trading legislation in powerful fashion, yet the film is as much or more concerned with people as it is with science. For, in the end, it is people, and especially poor people, who are going to be hurt by the current propaganda campaign against the environmentally beneficial trace gas that carbon dioxide in fact represents.”
It is hoped that this film gets a very wide hearing indeed. Too much sloppy gloom and doom-ism has been allowed to circulate in the MSM by the likes of Gore and others. Some common sense realism is the order of the day.
Those wanting to see a trailer of the film or order a copy for themselves can refer to the links below.