Wednesday, June 27, 2007


A representative of Africa Fighting Malaria attempts to establish contact with entomologist Bug Girl:
I’ve read your posts on DDT and I’d like to send you an article that might make a good post, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to submit something or contact you through the blog. Can you please email me at the address above to get in touch?
But for the closed-minded Carson cultist there's nothing to discuss; she already knows everything she needs to know about DDT:
Well, given that Africa Fighting Malaria is a front organization for CEI, which is the source of the attacks on Carson, I’m not interested. Thanks.
In reality, Bug Girl doesn't know as much about DDT as she thinks: thus her endorsement of pro-Carson crapola:
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a very nice post about DDT, in which they are quite clear that Rachel Carson is not the anti-Christ.
Here are some examples of the iffy points made at the linked U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service page:
Chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides, such as chlordane, DDT, toxaphene, and dieldrin were the main family of insecticides used following their introduction after World War II. Many of these chemicals originated from attempts to develop agents of chemical warfare, but were found to be lethal to insects.
Not surprisingly this hint that DDT resulted from chemical weapons research is referenced to Silent Spring.
DDT is a man-made chemical widely used to control insects on agricultural crops and insects that carry diseases like malaria and typhus.
Once widely used but no longer.
Only the GENERAL use of the pesticide has been banned in the United States. The EPA’s order did not affect public health and quarantine uses, or exports of DDT. In addition, the EPA maintains the ability to allow any Federal or State agency to use DDT if emergency conditions exist, including economic emergencies.
As far as I know, no DDT has been used in the US since the general use ban and DDT is neither manufactured nor exported. It's hard to see where the US could quickly obtain large quantities of DDT in the event of an emergency. And even if stocks could be obtained environmental groups would loudly oppose its use.
This general use ban came after three years of intensive governmental inquiries into the uses of DDT. As a result of this examination, EPA determined that “the continued massive use of DDT posed unacceptable risks to the environment and potential harm to human health.”
DDT was unilaterally banned by EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus after he determined that the continued use of DDT was unacceptable.
Carson encouraged the responsible use of pesticide with an awareness of the chemicals' impact on all living things, not the all-out banning of pesticides. In fact, in the context of malaria control, she argued that DDT users should "spray as little as you possibly can" rather than "spray to the limit of your capacity."
It's all well and good that Carson says she doesn't want chemical insecticides banned when Silent Spring presents them as cancer-causing -- as in the case of the unnamed woman who sprays her basement three times with DDT and dies of leukemia within months of the first spraying. Carson damned the chemicals and the environmental movement picked up the ball and ran with it, so to speak.
In Audubon magazine she wrote, "We do not ask that all chemicals be abandoned. We ask moderation. We ask the use of other methods less harmful to our environment". Countering claims that she was advocating a back-to-nature philosophy, she said, "We must have insect control. I do not favor turning nature over to insects. I favor the sparing, selective and intelligent use of chemicals. It is the indiscriminate, blanket spraying that I oppose".

This approach of controlling pests today underlies Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which integrates a number of useful strategies — cultural, mechanical or physical, biological, and chemical — into an ecologically sound and economically viable program. This management technique is used extensively in managing the Service's National Wildlife Refuges.
IPM is a valid pest management strategy in a developed country like the US but isn't implementable in those areas where DDT is most needed -- the massive IPM infrastructure (in the case of malaria, vector management) is extremely difficult and costly to establish and maintain. In any event, Bug Girl doesn't have a good understanding of IPM, claiming it was developed in the 1950s. IPM was in fact first successfully used on a large scale to eradicate yellow fever and control malaria in Panama in the early 1900s.

Bug Girl may be an entomologist but she's not a reliable source of information. If she was, Tim Lambert wouldn't link to her. I will, by the way, dissect some of her other DDT stuff when work pressures ease.

Update: Bug Girl again proves her ignorance:
I approved Beck’s comment for entertainment value.
He’s dancing on the head of a pin about the IPM thing; sure, lots of past control strategies can match bits and pieces of an IPM program. But it wasn’t called IPM, or implemented as a *systematic program* until much, much later this century.
Silly semantics.
Here's the CDC's description of integrated pest management in Panama circa 1909:
An integrated program of mosquito control was initiated that involved seven basic programs that were strictly enforced. These were, in order of importance:
  • Drainage: All pools within 200 yards of all villages and 100 yards of all individual houses were drained. Subsoil drainage was preferred followed by concrete ditches. Lastly, open ditches were constructed. Paid inspectors made sure ditches remained free of obstructions.
  • Brush and grass cutting: All brush and grass was cut and maintained at less than one foot high within 200 yards of villages and 100 yards of individual houses. The rationale was that mosquitoes would not cross open areas over 100 yards.
  • Oiling: When drainage was not possible along the grassy edges of ponds and swamps, oil was added to kill mosquito larvae.
  • Larviciding: When oiling was not sufficient, larvaciding was done. At the time, there were no commercial insecticides. Joseph Augustin LePrince, Chief Sanitary Inspector for the Canal Zone developed a larvacide mixture of carbolic acid, resin and caustic soda that was spread in great quantity.
  • Prophylactic quinine: Quinine was provided freely to all workers along the construction line at 21 dispensaries. In addition, quinine dispensers were on all hotel and mess tables. On average, half of the work force took a prophylactic dose of quinine each day.
  • Screening: Following the great success in Havana, all governmental buildings and quarters were screened against mosquitoes.
  • Adult killing: Because the mosquitoes usually stayed in the tent or the house after feeding, collectors were hired to gather the adult mosquitoes that remained in the houses during the daytime. This proved to be very effective. Mosquitoes that were collect in tents were examined by Dr. Samuel T. Darling, Chief of the Board of Health Laboratory. Cost of adult mosquito killing was $3.50/per capita/per year for whole population of the strip.
And the results:
The results of this malaria program were such that yellow fever was totally eradicated. Death rate due to malaria in employees dropped from 11.59 per 1,000 in November 1906 to 1.23 per 1,000 in December 1909. It reduced the deaths from malaria in the total population from a maximum of 16.21 per 1,000 in July 1906 to 2.58 per 1,000 in December 1909.

Among the work force, the percentage of employees hospitalized due to malaria was 9.6% in December 1905, 5.7% in 1906, 1.8% in 1907, 3.0% in 1908, and 1.6% in 1909. Malaria continued to be a challenge throughout the entire construction program.

The Panama Canal was the construction miracle of the beginning of the 20th century. It also was a great demonstration of malaria control based on an integrated mosquito control program enforced by the military. Malaria was not eliminated. However, under these most trying conditions, the disease was controlled to the extent that the construction work could be completed.
Bug Girl is the female Tim Lambert.

Update II: A highly condensed version of the update above was posted as a comment at Bug Girl's blog where it's awaiting moderation. I'm betting she's going to do a Lambert on me and refuse to post it. Now if I'm lame and not very bright like Bug Girl claims she should be ripping my comments to shreds -- you know, being a scientist and all -- instead of refusing to discuss matters about which she claims to be an expert. What is it with scientists today?

Update III: Bug Girl is no stranger to inaccuracy.

Update IV: Entomology lady has shit-canned my comment:
Actually, I have both a spam filter and a moderation rule that makes anything with a link go into moderation.
I also have put some abusive posters into a moderated or banned group. (You don’t get to threaten me, for example.)
While some innocent posts get swept up in the spam filter, most get through. I rarely actively censor.
However: This is MY blog, and MY rules apply.
Jeez, I kick the hapless scientist's arse (figuratively, of course) one time too many and she bans me. Weak, really weak.

This is, by the way, not the first time Bug Girl has felt threatened:
I’m trying to do my part to set some of the biological errors [Rachel Carson and DDT] straight at my blog.

I’d love to help, but after a week of personal attacks on my blog and via email, I’m not so sure.
I couldn't find any threatening comments at her blog and her email address isn't listed, so it must be her friends doing the threatening. Lefties are always keen to turn on one another.

Update: More here.


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