Monday, May 25, 2009


Computer programmer and self-styled climate change and malaria expert Tim Lambert applauds the World Health Organization's efforts to reduce DDT's role in the fight against malaria. For support he links to a 2,548-word post by school teacher Ed Darrell, an extremely unreliable source -- he once claimed water is carcinogenic, refusing to admit his error.

Lambert could have linked to two Australians with public health qualifications expressing concern about the WHO's DDT-reduction plan but chose to ignore their considered opinions.

As an alternative to his 2,548-word craporama Darrell offers this condensed version at Deltoid (my bold):
DDT kills the songbirds, and were it just a question of sacrificing a few songbirds to save 50 million people, no one would hesitate to get out the sparrow tongue recipe and make the sacrifice.
BUT: 1. DDT is increasingly ineffective against mosquitoes. 2. At least one recent study shows that DDT kills as many children as it might possibly save; of course, DDT is generally less than 25% effective in preventing malaria. It's not much better than doing nothing. 3. There are much more effective means of preventing the disease than spraying with DDT -- bednets are 50% to 85% effective, for example, and cost about $2.00/year versus $24.00 per year for DDT. 4. The songbirds are part of the long term solution to bearing malaria. They eat mosquitoes and they are more effective at it than spraying, over time. 5. DDT can't eradicate malaria. There was a window when DDT could have been the lead pesticide in an eradication campaign. That window closed in about 1965 and it will never reopen. Spending money on DDT means money can't be spent on effective malaria fighting procedures.
Did I mention that DDT is now connected to cancers in the kids it's supposed to save? That's new knowledge, not available to Rachel Carson.
Greater danger, less effective, more expensive: DDT, the epitome of ineffective dithering that kills millions.
Number five above is correct; all of the other claims are incorrect, or are disputable or misleading, or both. Lambert blogs at but doesn't blog science; he blogs politics: everything he writes must be considered suspect unless proven otherwise.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The toxicity of DDT in humans is low. Entomologist J. Gordon Edwards use to eat the stuff by the spoonfull to demonstrate its lack of toxicity.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous jc said...

Saint Rachael of course lied about the toxicity of DDT in her book. Tim Lambert, Australia's newly minted public intellectual, of course always leaves that out. Dishonesty by omission is Lambert's only strength.

7:47 PM  

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