James Dillingpole, May 28th, 2009
Yesterday would have been her 102nd birthday and I'm sorry I missed it, but my sharp-eyed fellow-traveller David Hinz at The Minority Report celebrated with a lively dance on the old fraud's grave. He doesn't mince his words: Rachel Carson - poster girl of the international eco movement - was a "mass murderer" to rival Stalin and Pol Pot.
Was she really responsible for the deaths of as many as 50 million people? That's just an estimate. What we do know is that her landmark 1962 bestseller Silent Spring - the book that set a million and one green activists on the path of eco righteousness - was responsible for the worldwide ban on the insecticide DDT, the most effective preventative against the mosquitos which spread the world's deadliest disease, Malaria. In this way countless millions of people, mostly Third World children, were condemned to death in the name of ecological correctness.
Rather as so many people do now with the global warming/climate change story, readers in the 1960s just couldn't get enough of Rachel Carson's apocalyptic predictions of man-made eco doom. There might, she claimed, be a cancer epidemic which would hit 'practically 100 per cent' of the human population; bird life would be wiped out. And all because of the evil DDT. As a result of this scare-mongering DDT was banned first by an eco-activist administrator at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), subsequently by the UN and the World Health Organisation.
Problem was, few if any of the claims made by Carson were true. They were derived from a complete misrepresentation of research by Dr James DeWitt.
She claimed: "Dr DeWitt's now classic experiments [show] that exposure to DDT, even when doing no observable harm to the birds, may seriously affect reproduction. Quail into whose diet DDT was introduced throughout the breeding season survived and even produced normal numbers of fertile eggs. But few of the eggs hatched."
In fact DeWitt's research had shown the exact opposite:
"DeWitt reported no significant difference in egg hatching between birds fed DDT and birds not fed DDT. Carson omitted mentioning DeWitt's report that DDT-fed pheasants hatched about 50 percent more eggs than "control" pheasants."
DDT doesn't cause cancer. (Carson blamed DDT for something that was actually, later research found, caused by aflatoxin, a toxic by-product of fungi). Nor does it damage bird reproduction. In 1971-72 an EPA judge concluded after seven months and 9,000 pages of testimony:
"DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man... DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man... The use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife."
In 2006, the WHO tacitly acknowledged its mistake by partially rescinding the ban. "We must take a position based on the science and the data. One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual spraying. Of the dozen or so insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT," said Arata Kochi of WHO.
Do the utterly misleading "extreme scenarios" posited by Rachel Carson remind you of anyone? Prince Charles, maybe? Al Gore? Dr James Hansen? No surprise if they do. Carson's bestselling brand of junk science and misanthropic, anti-capitalist doom-mongering has provided the model for the international green movement ever since.