Saturday, May 26, 2007

The environmentalists' war on Africa

In 1962, author Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, "[which] exposed the hazards of the pesticide DDT, eloquently questioned humanity's faith in technological progress and helped set the stage for the environmental movement."

When Ms. Carson appeared on a CBS documentary two years later, she said:
"Man's attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have now acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature. But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself..."

That insight is being twisted by the good intentions of far too many in the environmentalist movement, so that we instead arrive at a war for nature becoming a war against man.
The environmentalists increasingly adopt policy positions that end up killing people, or worse: allowing them to die when it would be so easy to save their lives instead. The usual moral checks that might curb this ignoble behavior seem to be washed away by the sheer absoluteness of the moral objective that the environmentalist movement claims for itself: "saving the planet".
In the shadow of that Ultimate Goal, what are the lives of "a few" dead Africans when measured against the advance toward such a towering "Good"..? No wonder so many in the Green movement have Red political leanings; same moral justifications being adopted for the same attempts at Heaven On Earth.
Thanks to the internet we can now listen to the voices of those whose lives are being sacrificed by the environmentalists in their long march towards material salvation. Consider the following plea for help from Fiona Kobusingye, coordinator of the Congress of Racial Equality in Uganda, and the Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now Brigade:
The 2007 World Health Assembly is wrapping up and people are commemorating the birthday of Silent Spring author Rachel Carson. Meanwhile, millions of Africans are commemorating still more deaths from a disease that the chemical she vilified could help control.

I just got out of the hospital, after another nasty case of malaria. I’ve had it dozens of times. I lost my son, two sisters and three nephews to it. Fifty out of 500 children in our local school for orphans died from malaria in 2005.

Virtually every Ugandan family has buried babies, children, mothers and fathers because of this disease, which kills 100,000 of us every year. Even today, 50 years after it was eradicated in the United States, malaria is the biggest killer of African children, sending 3,000 to their graves every day.

In between convulsions and fever, I thought about the progress we’re making – and about those who would stop that progress. I ask myself, why do some people care more about minor, hypothetical risks to people or animals than about human life?

Last year, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reversed 30 years of bad policy and reauthorized DDT to help combat malaria in Africa, by spraying it on the walls of houses to keep mosquitoes out. The World Health Organization (WHO) also came out strongly in support of DDT.

Both reviewed decades of scientific studies and concluded that using DDT this way is perfectly safe for people and the environment.
No other chemical, at any price, does what DDT does. It keeps mosquitoes from entering homes, irritates the few that do enter, so they don’t bite, kills those that land, and reduces malaria rates by 75% – all with a single inexpensive spraying once or twice a year.

DDT was dusted on American soldiers during World War II, to prevent malaria; and on millions of Europeans after the war, to prevent typhus. It was sprayed all over the US to protect crops and eradicate malaria. Contrary to what Ms. Carson claimed, DDT didn’t cause cancer, or decimate eagle and other bird populations.

DDT was also used 46 years ago to slash malaria rates in western Uganda’s Kanungu District. It can and must be used again – according to storage, handling and indoor spraying guidelines – to stop disease and save lives. Why do some people want to prevent its use? ...
WHO Public Health and Environment Director Maria Neira wants to stop all use of DDT. The Uganda Network on Toxic-Free Control plans to sue NEMA, if it doesn’t stop the DDT spraying program. Both worry about its hypothetical health effects.
We wish they would worry more about malaria, and focus on DDT’s health benefits – on the diseases it can prevent, the lives it can save.
DDT opponents want to return to strategies that were a devastating failure for 30 years. Hundreds of millions of Africans got malaria. Tens of millions died. Entire countries were kept impoverished.
We say, Enough! No more malaria. No more brain damage. No more workers who can’t work, students who can’t study. No more families that can’t afford food, because they must pay for drugs and hospitals. No more death. We support bednets. But we also need insecticides to kill mosquitoes. And we want a DDT shield or “net” over entire houses in malaria-infested areas – 24 hours a day, every day of the year, to protect everyone inside, whether they are sleeping or working.
Uganda’s Vice President Bukenya, Health Minister Mallinga, NEMA Director Arymanya and Members of Parliament support DDT spraying and comprehensive programs to eradicate Killer Malaria. May people of conscience everywhere stand with us. Praise Rachel Carson, if you wish – but support DDT spraying, to reduce disease and save lives.

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