I might take the environmental movement seriously if it weren’t responsible for millions of deaths. On Tuesday, the world observed Earth Day—a celebration of the movement’s alleged successes, one of which is worldwide restrictions on the insecticide DDT.
Environmentalists in the U.S. and Europe might be congratulating themselves for nearly ridding the Earth of DDT, but the people of South America, Asia and Africa are not celebrating. They need DDT to ward off malaria, a mosquito-borne infection that thrives in tropical climates and is often lethal, especially to children and pregnant women. One million inhabitants of third-world countries die of malaria every year thanks to environmentalist junk science.
When DDT was first mass-produced in 1939, it was regarded as a miraculous life-saver on the level of penicillin. Malaria—which had once plagued Europe and the U.S. as well as the tropics—was well on its way to being eradicated. During World War II, soldiers and concentration camp survivors were doused with it. DDT was considered so essential that its first producer, Dr. Paul Muller, won the Nobel Prize in 1948. As the National Academy of Sciences declared, "To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT...In little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths, due to malaria, that otherwise would have been inevitable."
But this life-saving chemical had yet to face the environmental movement. In 1962, Rachel Carson (whom Al Gore counts among his inspirations), wrote a book titled Silent Spring, which blamed DDT for killing birds and causing human diseases. The book launched a massive propaganda campaign against DDT.
The environmentalists were determined not to let facts stand in their way. Although several studies showed that DDT had no harmful effects on humans and was not responsible for wildlife deaths (in fact, several endangered bird populations flourished during the years when DDT was most widely used), an EPA bureaucrat who had not attended a single hearing on DDT decided to ban it anyway. Environmental groups then pressured the government to ban exports from countries that continued to use DDT—which has brought about a malaria epidemic in the third world, especially in Africa, where 90 percent of infections occur. These countries are facing mass death and economic devastation because environmentalists in the West are worried that DDT will cause cancer and kill the birds.