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'Environmentalism' Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Roger Bate has this spot-on letter in today’s edition of the Washington Post:

David A. Fahrenthold quoted me in his May 23 Metro article "Rachel
Carson Bill From Cardin on Hold" but misunderstood my point. While one
cannot blame Rachel Carson for things done in her name after her death,
she was undoubtedly wrong about DDT and a host of other issues. She was
known to be wrong in 1972, 10 years after "Silent Spring" was
published, as the back cover of the 1972 Penguin version acknowledged.

that year DDT was taken off the list of approved pesticides for
agricultural uses in the United States by the Environmental Protection
Agency, against the advice of the agency’s own DDT hearing examiner.
Manufacturing of the pesticide ceased in the United States, and DDT
became a symbol of evil to the environmental movement. The result was
that countries combating malaria found good-quality DDT hard to get.
Aid agencies discouraged public health use of DDT and other
insecticides, contributing to millions of infections and deaths from
malaria and other diseases.

Carson is not to blame for environmental zeal that emerged after she
died in 1964, but she epitomizes the movement itself: long on emotion,
occasional kernels of truth, but with wild and usually unscientific
manipulation of data. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is right to block a
resolution eulogizing Rachel Carson. She was a progenitor of the
environmental movement, and she should share some of the blame, as well
as the praise, for the impact it has had.

Resident Fellow
American Enterprise Institute


The writer is on the board of Africa Fighting Malaria, a nonprofit health advocacy group.