National Geographic on malaria

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2007-07_NG_cover.jpgGiven that malaria is more or less the preeminent case of intelligent design in Michael Behe’s The Edge of Evolution, I think everyone would find it interesting to read the July 2007 cover story of National Geographic, which is on malaria and the history of attempts, failures, and hopes of eradicating it. The story focuses on Zambia, where the infection rates are sometimes over 100% (i.e., people are infected more than once a year). I have a somewhat personal interest in this since when I was seven my family went to Zambia for a year, as my dad was on sabbatical. We all took chloroquine weekly – a nasty-tasting drug to a seven-year old, mind you. And despite religiously taking the nasty-tasting drug, I got malaria in the end anyway (the chloroquine-resistant kind, naturally), came down with it on the plane ride back to the states, and then, sick as a dog, I was paraded around undiagnosed before baffled American doctors who had never seen malaria, until someone had the bright idea that maybe I had picked up the most common disease in Africa. More nasty medicine cured it, but that was an early lesson in evolution for me, let me tell you.

The NG article makes several important points: (1) Malaria isn’t like viruses or bacteria. It is a parasite and has 5,000 genes and elaborate, devious strategies for dodging the immune system. No one has ever developed a successful vaccine for a parasite, so it is not surprising that this is so tough for malaria. (2) Malaria has been around far longer than humans, considering that primate, cows, birds, lizards, and pretty much everything else terrestrial seems to have one or more malaria species specializing on it. (3) The article, for once, actually sensitively discusses the issue of DDT use, and notes accurately (for once) that environmental groups and governmental agencies were not and are not opposed to intelligent use of DDT for malaria control. However, it still has one scientist repeating the anti-environmentalist propaganda that a (mythical) DDT ban killed tens of millions of children in malarious countries. This extremely serious claim is completely unsupported by any study as far as I know. See DDT Ban Myth and Putting Myths to Bed. (4) The best remedies may be the simplest ones. The best ideas in the article seem to be (a) bed nets and (b) a regular vaccine consisting of (here’s the clever bit) killed malaria parasites to get the body’s immunity up and running (malaria is most dangerous to children who have not developed an immune reaction, or to people who have not been infected for awhile and have a weaker immune response). If these are in place then mosquito control and medical attention and drug treatment can curb the crisis situations without being overwhelmed by mass infection. It’s not perfect but it may be a substantial improvement over attempts to eradicate the disease which have failed again and again.

80 Comments

The article did make it clear that DDT became difficult to procure, and that only recently has it become easier to obtain. The quasi-protection afforded by sickle-cell anemia was only tangentially mentioned.

This same issue has a good article entitled “Iceman Murder Mystery.” Great illustration of the nature of science - new technologies leading to new evidence and insights into the Iceman’s death, overturning/elaborating previous theories - and rather CSI-like. “Were you theeeeere?” becomes even more irrelevant.

Unfortunate for 7-year-old Nick that he was there for Anopheles.

So sad to hear Nat Geo has developed malaria…

I once had a high-school biology teacher who spent a few years teaching in Africa. He contracted malaria more than once to the great amusement of his supervisor. “You Europeans* are so weak”, he would apparently say. Turns out that the supervisor was heterozygous for sickle-cell anemia, and a carrier for the malaria parasite.

*The gentleman in question was, in fact, born and raised in Canada, but his boss had a habit of refering to all white people as ‘Europeans’.

The article did make it clear that DDT became difficult to procure, and that only recently has it become easier to obtain.

I suspect that this is just a modified version of the DDT ban myth that someone invented once they were informed that DDT was never actually banned for malaria control. If someone were to document that DDT prices went up in the 1970s (reduced demand, increased prices? That doesn’t make sense right there) then there might be an argument. But AFAICT all we get is vague generalities.

It’s possible for there to be reduced demand for a product and an increase in the price provided there is also a large decrease in supply. Crazy ass world of economics.

All that I could find was a 1995 paper which stated, in the abstract, that the quality-adjusted price of pesticides used in US agriculture was 2.5 times higher in 1995 than in 1968.

I have been digging around elsewhere – one article in Nature says that anti-malarial agencies moved away from DDT (somewhat but not completely) in the 1970s because of widespread resistance due to agricultural spraying.

I suspect that Behe is a double agent.

Recognizing the danger that creationism posed to science, he devoted himself to cleverly imitating a creationist, but in a way that is devastating to creationism.

I’m not endorsing this, but he sure did it well.

Because if there ever is another ID trial (and I suppose there probably won’t be, because supreme court or no supreme court, ID is now over and uncool), but if there ever is, then…

Behe will be on the witness stand explaining that according to ID, Jesus deliberately designed the complex malaria parasite to kill little babies.

And they laughed at the bacterial flagellum.

In 1999 only three countries, China, India and Mexico, manufactured DDT.

aren’t pyrethrins cheaper and more readily available than DDT anyway?

with the added side bonus that they don’t bioaccumulate, so there wouldn’t be any arguments from ecologists or environmentalists, either.

Jerome: “By the way, hats off to Rachel Carson for the restricton of DDT and several million dead. Outstanding scientific foresight.”

You mean the part where she correctly anticipated that the widespread agricultural use of DDT would lead to a rise in DDT-resistant malarial strains? You know, as discussed in the article you’re commenting on, but apparently didn’t deign to read?

Jerome -

This is a short thread, and the lack of clear cut direct connection between limiting agricultural DDT use and malaria has been discussed above.

Public health is probably the single most important factor in development, but it has to be based on sustainable methods, otherwise it will benefit one generation, but fail the next.

The National Geographic article calls the development of DDT a miracle. Insects are developing resistance. The National Geographic article calls the development of chloroquine a miracle. Plasmodia are developing resistance. Thus, evolution seems to be more powerful than God.

Yes, it seems that evolution and global warming deniers also seem to believe in other nonsense such as the DDT ban myth. Tim Lamberts on deltoid has spent many postings addressing the ignorance about global warming as well as the DDT ban. It’s sad how ignorance leads people to accept such beliefs as Intelligent Design, Global Warming Denial etc when a few minutes of research would show how most of their arguments quickly unravel and all that is left is ignorance.

You know, citing malaria as an example of intelligent design makes me wonder… do these guys ever think about what such arguments say about God?

Of course maybe malaria was intelligently designed to punish us for the sin of… being outdoors near standing water?

Mmmmhmmmm. What were you doing there, Adam, staring out across that stagnant water, hmmmm?

Coveting your neighbor’s ass no doubt.

What kind of parent would expose a seven year old to that threat on a “sabbatical”?

funny, but I spent a bit of time in French Polynesia, also with significant risk of exposure to malaria, dengue, etc.

never would have thought twice about bringing any offspring there.

some risks are quite worth it.

By the way, hats off to Rachel Carson for the restricton of DDT and several million dead.

“People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it”

This remind me of my childhood when visiting relatives in the Caribbean. We use mosquito nets at night to avoid/prevent bites and prevent dengue fever. Differently to malaria, dengue is a viral disease but transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.

The best way to stop malaria is DDT, but the use was stopped because of course we can’t let the poor pelicans break their eggs so we let 1 million Africans (mostly children) die every year because of the decadence of the west. Thank you Rachel Carson for the “junk science”.

Thankfully DDT is now being used more often because it was discovered that the enivironmental problems with it had been completely overblown years ago.

Changes in genes due to selection pressures from pesticides: The mosquitoes that are resistant to DDT have evolved multiple copies of the esterase genes that enable them to detoxify it; the cotton budworm has altered the target of the poison, and houseflies have altered the proteins that transport the poison. So there are a wide variety of _possible_ mutations that can reduce the killing effects of a pesticide on an organism, and only one of those very different types of mutations has to occur in order for the organism to develop resistance. This increases the odds that such resistance could occur via the same random mutations that naturally occur in every organism during meiotic divisions of its germ cells.

Also…

The evidence of arms races in nature is well attested. Changes of one species influence the other, especially in cases of predator and prey species, or parasites and hosts. Even humans, being massive killers of species from bacterial germs to mosquitoes, has affected their evolution. The bacteria evolved resistance to antibiotics, while the insects evolved resistance to pesticides. Interestingly, there’s a wide variety of ways that a bacterium or insect can evolve resistance to such things. Sometimes a gene is omitted, and that protects them, sometimes a gene is duplicated, and that protects them. Closely related species may mutate in different ways and thus overcome the antiobiotic or pesticide in different ways.

Nature appears flexible, intrinsically so. So much so, that it appears to me evolution is no more impossible than say, the ability of stars to produce every element in the periodic table from simply hydrogen atoms that continue fusing together into heavier and heavier atoms inside each star.

Also, there are quite a few Christian evolutionists out there who are not jumping aboard the I.D. bandwagon for the reasons given above.

The best way to stop malaria is DDT, but the use was stopped because of course we can’t let the poor pelicans break their eggs so we let 1 million Africans (mostly children) die every year because of the decadence of the west. Thank you Rachel Carson for the “junk science”.

Thankfully DDT is now being used more often because it was discovered that the enivironmental problems with it had been completely overblown years ago.

holy crap! it’s like people can’t be bothered to read the posts or comments before they poot.

as to the dnagers of DDT and DDE metabolites, they actually HAVEN’T been overblown, as anybody who has studied organochlorine residues in marine mammals or other high trophic level predators like sharks could tell you.

We STILL are finding extremely high levels of DDE metabolites in marine mammals and sharks off of the coast of CA, for example, over 30 years after their banning in the US, and studies have conclusively shown physiological issues from the high levels. the source of contamination now is considered likely to be non-point (IOW, most likely from runnoff and contaminated groundwater), so current ag use isn’t even part of the issue any more.

that DDE metabolites bioaccumulate, and have severe impacts on various populations of animals is not in any question. All one has to do is check the lit on the subject for the last 20 plus years to see. To assume that similar kinds of damage wouldn’t occur in humans who consume animals with high concentrations of the metabolites seems assinine to me.

as to whether small scale usage of DDT causes seepage into groundwater, or otherwise would affect bioaccumulation on a large scale is a more interesting question to ask. Another good question would be to ask why not use pesticides with lesser risk of bioaccumulation to begin with, if they are available and cheap.

holy crap! it’s like people can’t be bothered to read the posts or comments before they poot.

Why would they? I mean, what would be the benefit to them in doing so?

Jerome Wrote:

I yam a maroon.

Les Wrote:

I yam a maroon.

The posts of Jerome and Les remind me of a quote from Richard Whatley:

Whatley Wrote:

He who is not aware of his ignorance will only be misled by his knowledge.

Les and Jerome -

You don’t know anything about malaria.

You don’t know anything about DDT.

You don’t care about children in Africa.

You were psychologically incapable of even reading the posts in the very thread you chose to post on.

It is most comical that you both parroted almost the exact same outdated right wing buzzwords.

Your behavior is about as voluntary as that of a Skinner pigeon. The conditioning, or should I say brainwashing, was done years ago. (Indeed, present day chemical company executives wouldn’t want right wing basement-bots hypocritically arguing for unregulated use of pesticides as the only possible answer to malaria. Not the kind of PR they’re looking for.)

Certain environmental cues trigger an involuntary and irresistable urge to parrot decades old right wing talking points. What’s that like, anyway?

Man, I was pretty grouchy when I posted that last comment.

All true, of course, but pretty grouchy.

I guess it was the idea that someone would still be arguing that we should go back to the burning lake days level of environmental regulations that set me off…

‘Les’ and ‘Jerome’ are certainly the same person, probably some troll who posts here under other names as well. Legion is a good candidate.

He claims to care about Africans but it’s obvious his real point is just bashing environmentalists. Yawn.

Since we are talking about DDT and deniers anyway, I have always wondered about ExxonMobil’s support of BOTH the CEI and a South African malaria organization. Milloy also has the DDT ban under his skin; we know that Milloy was paid as a contractor by them and we know that CEI’s heritage is that of a “medical doubt” machine created by Lorilar, R. J. Reynolds and others. Finally we know that CEI acted to create FUD about global warming on behalf of ExxonMobil and feed it to Murdoch’s Fox News. If you have doubts, go here and search for “Milloy”.

On the general assumption that these people never do anything that isn’t central to their mission of making money off the misfortune of others, why do they push DDT?

Chrichton’s misstatements in _State of Fear_ about malaria mortality numbers are what got me looking into global warming denial when I found that he got them from Milloy. I was upset that Chrichton had completely discounted the heroic efforts of WHO staffers and volunteers.

DDT was banned in the USA decades ago. So what happened? Malaria is still unknown. DDT and its breakdown products are lower in human tissue and the environment. And several species of birds including ospreys, the bald eagle, and pelicans that were rapidly declining have recovered.

Meanwhile, there are dozens of other insecticides with more being discovered.

In other words, nothing bad and much good. The rest of the world is a different story. Apparently malarial countries have decided the cost benefit favors DDT. OK, the US jurisdiction ends at our borders. Their country, their problem, their decision. But it seems to me if DDT is so valuable for public health reasons, it should never be used in agriculture or other places where alternatives exist. Evolution predicts and experience confirms that sooner or later DDT resistant mosquitos will arise.

Well, David Benson’s approach would work as well…

Though maybe first we should hook all the tailpipes up to the DDT sprayers, and give the mosquitoes a radically-different blend of chemicals to adapt to.

[/attempts at humorous distraction]

I will look for the direct quote when I have more time this evening or tomorrow, I thought I had it saved but I don’t.

Apparently Harold made the same mistake as Toejam regarding my comment about hyperbole so my original comment wasn’t clear. I was saying that those who are saying a ban on DDT is killing millions are clearly using some hyperbole at the moment it’s a very common analogy at the moment in Global Warming debates people say the reaction to global warming is the same as what led to the ban on DDT.

And again, I didn’t bring up Rachel Carson here, my first post never mentioned her but several responses accused me of blaming her for deaths in Africa, that’s why I commented on her.

Science avenger, I don’t know where you live, but in California there is something called the basic speed law which basically says any speed above what is safe for the conditions, is speeding. You can be cited for going 45 in a 65 zone if CHP feels due to conditions 45 is unsafe.So in California, speeding does not mean driving above the posted speed limit, it means driving above what is safe for the given conditions. Many examples, such as traffic is stopped and you’re driving on the shoulder, weather etc. My oldest sister had traffic school 3 weekends ago that’s why it’s fresh in my mind. One of the first questions asked was what causes most accidents, they then gave the NHTSA answer and said it’s open to considerable debate there are many people who will argue if you pick apart their data it’s quite clear that speeding is the cause of many things they attribute to something else. With cellphones though it’s quite possible inattention to driving is now the #1 cause.

The quote is from Edwin Cohn and it’s referenced in the Malaria Capers, you can find numerous references on the web but I’ll try to find the exact quote in the book and type it in. Cohn is listed as a former USAID official. He said something to the effect that those in malarious regions might be better off dead than alive and riotously reproducing. But that’s a paraprhase I will post the exact quote from the book when I get a chance. Virtually any citation you find on the web will cite that book for the quote.

Russ -

I couldn’t find the quote anywhere.

It’s irrelevant if it’s true (who cares if one guy was a jerk?).

If it’s false, or taken out of context, it makes either the author of Malaria Capers and/or you look bad, depending on whether you’re accurately describing how it appears in Malaria Capers. Even if you’re accurately describing the way the quote appears in Malaria Capers, but the author of the book used the quote in an unfair or inaccurate way, it makes you look a little bit bad for not being more critical and skeptical of what you read.

I’ll concede that I haven’t read Malaria Capers, but rather, only some reviews.

The reviews suggested that the book was NOT concerned with the false argument that “environmentalists caused Africans to use less DDT and therefore caused millions of deaths from malaria”. Rather, the book is about some controversial behavior by malaria researchers, which I was already aware of. (This makes the author look good; he may be “angry” but his book seems to be about controversies that really exist, not right wing anti-environmental BS - of course, I’d have to read it to be sure.)

Now, what is YOUR point?

Are you claiming that “environmentalists” are “responsible” for “millions of deaths from malaria” because they unofficially pressured Africans to use less DDT? Are you making that claim? Yes or no?

Or are you merely making the point that, despite its known harmful effects, DDT may need to be considered as one element in malaria control for the foreseeable future, at least until clearly superior alternatives can be found? If that is your point, please clarify.

Also, how do you feel about the general idea of limiting human damage to the common environment, through government regulation and international treaties where appropriate, at least to the extent that human life can proceed sustainably into the foreseeable future, and no-one suffers excessively from another person’s selfishly uncontrolled pollution? Do you think that this is a good idea?

Harold, first off how can you in good conscience criticize a book that you haven’t even read? How can you with a straight face say that because you read a few “intelligent reviews” you know the book? Surely you realize that reviews simply give you the opinion of the reviewer. And just because you can’t find the quote anywhere does not mean it’s not in the book. Page 217 The Malaria Capers by Robert S Desowitz, bear with me as I’m typing this not scanning it.

AID had used similar arguments in obtaining the money and confidence from Congress for underwriting the Global Eradication of Malaria Program. An AID apologist when that program failed was not a malariologist or anyone even remotely associated with malaria, but an economist, Edwin J Cohn, of the AID Office of Policy Development and Analysis. He contended that not only did’t the failure of the campaign matter but it may even have been a blessing in disguise. The Third World didn’t require a healthy labor force because there was a surplus of workers; better, some people should be sick with malaria and spread the job opportunities around. He said in effect, on behalf of AID, “better dead than alive and riotously reproducing.”

That program took place in the 1970’s it failed completely in 1972, Desowitz used Cohn as an example of why it failed so miserably, because at the time they weren’t really committed to it. The book is NOT just about DDT, and the reason the author is “angry” is that he chronicles in great detail how money was essentially wasted or stolen for decades, money intended for malaria that went right into people’s pockets. Chapter 18 is called the Vaccine Felonies, he goes into detail about how an AID grant for 2.38 million was squandered and led to 6 indictments charging the manager, scientists and affiliates with theft, conspiracy, crimimal solicitation and tax evasion. This was in the early 1980’s and no I’m not going to type in the entire chapter for you so that you won’t accuse me of making it up.

You made an incredible leap from I haven’t read the book but it sounds like you’re either misquoting it or taking it out of context or the author did. I had pegged you for one of the few here who didn’t invent things you think the other person thinks and then attacks them, but now you’re attacking me on a book you haven’t read because you claim you can’t find the quote.

I’ll give you just one link of hundreds that pops up if you type in better off dead than riotously reproducing to google.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933[…]4332,00.html I give you this one because I know it is in fact still a valid link there are many more if you couldn’t find them, maybe you weren’t looking very hard?

I’ve already stated my point, the reason you don’t get it is because virtually every response has ignored it and attacked me for things I didn’t say forcing me to go back and point out what I actually did say. I think DDT is not a panacea but it is one part of a viable defense against malaria. I think in many parts of the world it has been unavailable due to poltical pressure much of which has come from the US and environmental groups. For years USAid didn’t even have money in its budget for DDT, it does now and is just starting to spend it largely because of the reversal by WHO. There are plenty of cases where it’s been shown DDT has helped to control malaria.

One of the points Desowitz makes in his book is that he’s not sure they’re ever going to be able to make a vaccine and that they may have gotten so driven to prove they could make one that they, the scientists, ignored what their own science was telling them and let a bunch of crooked politicians distort and misstate their work for their own financial gain. That they did irreparable harm because they created such misstrust in the 3rd world. He goes into great detail about a colleague who spent millions of AID money working on a vaccine completely ignoring other experts who pointed out his entire premise was flawed and even his method of testing(he was using monkeys) was flawed. IN the end that guy got nowhere, wasted millions, and the outcome was precisely what people like Desowitz had been telling him it would be all along since he was simply going down a wrong path. He’s angry because he thinks millions of people have died in part due to greed and ego.

And for the record it is not a “popular book”, Desowitz is not Stephen King he’s a parasitologist and he’s been actively campaigning for years to get the restrictions on use of DDT in vector control to be eased so that it can be used in 3rd world countries where it can save lives. Do I think environmentalism is bad, no, do I think there are people with good intentions who are making bad decisions because of environmentalism, sometimes yes, I think DDT has been one of those cases. It needs to be regulated but not banned. Mexico banned DDT for one reason, they were forced to as part of NAFTA. I already mentioned what is happening in the Philippines as a result of pressure from the Unites States.

DDT has been used effectively all over the world, there are people who want it completely banned and IMHO not for valid reasons, but for hysteria.

That’s just classic Harold, I haven’t read the book but I have read some reviews and based on that I think you made up that quote and the author of the book is angry? What a crock. I do get why the other poster asked me for the quote by the way, he assumed I was talking about the infamous Charles Wurster quote which has been around for years and which Wurster has categorically denied ever making. I wasn’t talking about Wurster which is who Toejam thought I was mentioning, that’s why he asked for the quote so he could jump all over me and cite links that show Wurster never said it. You guys are still bashing me because you misunderstood my comment about hyperbole over DDT, I was saying people like John Stossel and Limbaugh have gone too far to the point where they’ve taken a legit complaint about DDT and made it ridiculous. Stossel with a striaght face said 1 million a year die because of a DDT ban, that’s like saying if we used DDT NOBODY would die from malaria, which is ridiculous. People still die of malaria in North America of course they’d still die in Africa even with more widespread use of DDT, less would die but many would still die.

So what exactly is YOUR point? I’ve been running around looking up quotes for you for long enough, why don’t you tell me your point on all this and what you think should or shouldn’t be done with respect to DDT and Malaria?

Russ -

I notice that you didn’t answer my question.

No-one has attacked you. I have responded to you in a somewhat skeptical yet polite way; that is not an attack. Nor did I even say anything negative about the book, nor make any exaggerated claim about the value of reviews.

You can’t find anyone here who actually recommends an inflexible ban on DDT without any consideration of other factors.

You can’t produce any evidence that DDT was ever “banned” in malaria regions of Africa, or even that any prominent “liberal” or “environmentalist” pushed for such a ban. Because those things never happened.

You can’t admit that you oppose the idea of any regulation whatsoever of human damage to the common environment, because when I state it clearly like that, you see how extreme and irrational that position is. Yet to oppose every single environmental regulation, agreement, or recommendation individually, in a knee jerk way, is logically the same thing.

So you keep looking for something to get outraged at.

Russ:

There’s no question there is exaggeration with DDT right now, and ironically it does tend to be linked to global warming people say the overreaction to GW is similar to the overreacting to DDT and that has led to millions of deaths.

There’s a fairly famous quote from a guy who worked for USAID that essentially said when asked about the number of deaths in Africa to Malaria that some people are better off dead. In other words he was saying some people in poor countries are better off dead, that it’s better to let them die of malaria than to consider the use of DDT. I don’t have the immediate quote in front of me I could find it with a little searching.

Russ, I gotta say it’s not very clear to me where you’re going with your overall comments or what exact point your citing of the controversial quote was supposed to be in aid of…

Is it or is it not your contention that “exaggeration” of the ill effects of DDT by “environmentalists” has led to bans which has led to the death of millions?

If not, it’s not clear what the heck you are contending for here.

If so, you need to provide some hard evidence for this contention beyond merely quoting an AID economist/policymaker. Why? Because, even if accurate–and however insensitive the quote may be–it doesn’t provide one whit of substantiation of your environmental-exaggeration-death claims.

Here’s the quote itself from Desowitz’s “The Malaria Capers,” pages 216-17, courtesy of amazon.com’s “Search Inside the Book” feature:

AID had used similar arguments [healthier people make better consumers] in obtaining the money and confidence of Congress for underwirting the Global Eradication of Malaria Program. An AID apologist when that program failed was not a malariologist or anyone even remotely associated with malaria but an economist, Edwin J. Cohn, of the AID Office of Policy Development and Analysis. He contended that not only didn’t the failure matter but it may even have been a blessing in disquise. The Third World didn’t require a healthy labor force because there was a surplus of workers; better, some people should be sick with malaria and spread the job opportunities around. He also said in effect, on behalf of AID, “better dead than alive and riotously reproducing.” This was malaria and the Big Bang all over again: freedom from malaria lowered the crude death rate with sustained high fertility, which caused the rapid population growth, which led to the decline of economic development.

(My bracketed phrase.)

I would note, first, that the phrase in quotation marks doesn’t even purport to be a direct quote–the giveaway words here being “in effect.”

Second, no footnote or other source information is provided to substantiate the quote or the other positions attributed to Cohn.

Third, the entire paragraph is incoherent as to AID’s purported attitudes: we start out being told the motivation behind the eradication program was to create a population healthy enough to make good consumers. We end by being told, through the statements attributed to AID via Cohn, that AID actually didn’t want a population of healthy consumers; what it wanted was an ailing population to bring down population growth to drive up economic development.

Was AID motivated to create a thriving population or a sick population? If this one paragraph is a fair example of the “incisive investigative journalism” to be expected from the rest of this tome, I’ll give “Malaria Capers” a pass, thanks all the same.

In any event, as I said above, how does the allegedly-insensitive attitude of some economic policy wonk in a US government agency furnish any sort of support for a claim that “environmentalists” have somehow sabotaged national or global efforts to eradicate malaria.

I’ll conclude by noting–again entirely O/T, other than as it exemplifies your integrity in these discussions–that you didn’t deal reply at all to my followup as to your “speeding” claims, Russ: while “speed to fast for conditions” is one of various definitions of “speeding,” it’s neither the most common understanding or the most-cited flavor of that offense.

Harold, I’m through being polite with you, what in the hell are you talking about? When did I ever once say I opposed

“the idea of any regulation whatsoever of human damage to the common environment, because when I state it clearly like that, you see how extreme and irrational that position is. Yet to oppose every single environmental regulation, agreement, or recommendation individually, in a knee jerk way, is logically the same thing.”

What in bloody hell are you talking about? You’re just throwing out non sequiturs and then saying I win you lose, complete nonsense. You’ve been polite? You’ve openly accused me of inventing quotes or taking them out of context because you can’t use google well enough to find them when I gave you the quote and the person who said it.

Seriously and I noticed YOU didn’t answer my question?

For the record Harold, you haven’t answered any of my questions and you respond to each post with another series of questions. Like I said, I’m tired of running around answering your questions, how about you respond to one of mine? What is your opinion here, where do you stand, what should be done about malaria in the 3rd world? Or do you think everything is fine and dandy as it is now?

Stevie just because I am not using your own personal definition of speeding doesn’t mean I lack integrity. Get over it, you tried to correct me and in fact your correction was wrong since even government agencies don’t agree with you on the most common cause of accidents. Note they don’t agree with each other either, but they clearly don’t agree with you.

The “in effect” if you read it refers to the notion that Cohn was saying that as a representative of AID. He’s not saying to paraphrase he said this, he’s saying he said this in effect as a spokesman for AID. If you read the sentences directly after what you quoted you’ll understand his point. That Cohn and AID were saying that if they get malaria under control, the people will simply reproduce out of control and wind up with a decline in economic development. So in his opinion they were better off before they tried to eradicate malaria than they would be after. If you read that entire chapter it’s quite clear what the point is and it’s not incoherent at all unless you’re only reading one or two paragraphs and trying to discern from that what the point of the whole book is. See my comment to Harold about the wisdom of relying on reviews to tell you the point of an entire book.

And for the last time, quit putting words into my mouth and then asking me to defend them. I said DDT is one case where an overreaction led to a chemical that could have been used to help people, not being used to help them in many countries for many years. I didn’t say environmentalists are killing people. But people like Cohn WERE killing people because they were making decisions they had no business making. Decisions that led to a lot of money that could have gone to vector control programs but instead went into people’s pockets or into bureaucracy. That’s one of the main points in the book that you would prefer to bash rather than read. That one of the reasons Malaria is still such a problem in many places is that politics got in the way of a good eradication program, and still are to this very day.

Sorry tried being polite, just got a bunch of I think you’re going to say this so I’m going to attack you before you say it nonsense, through being polite.

Russ:

I said DDT is one case where an overreaction led to a chemical that could have been used to help people, not being used to help them in many countries for many years.

An “overreaction” to concern about the environment, yes or no?

Whatever your answer, your claim above is simply not supported by the statement below:

I didn’t say environmentalists are killing people. But people like Cohn WERE killing people because they were making decisions they had no business making. Decisions that led to a lot of money that could have gone to vector control programs but instead went into people’s pockets or into bureaucracy.

But how does your claim–if that’s what it is–of an “overreaction” to environmental concerns causally link up in any way whatsoever with the entirely-separate claim that AID frittered away money that could have been better spent saving people?

How is the claim of AID’s mendacity, even if accurate, an example of or evidence for your “overreaction” claim?

Answer: it’s not.

For all your claims of the benefits of reading, you have failed to correctly parse the usage of “in effect” in the key sentence of the language which I (not you) provided from the book. “In effect” quite clearly signals a paraphrase, rather than an exact quote:

He also said in effect, on behalf of AID, “better dead than alive and riotously reproducing.”

In the sentence above, “in effect” doesn’t meaningfully modify the phrase set off by commas (“on behalf of AID”) at all. The author is combining two distinct claims in the same sentence: Cohn’s statement was made on behalf of AID (an unqualified claim); and Cohn was, in effect, saying that malaria sufferers were “better dead than alive…”

That’s simply the grammatical consequence of separating the AID phrase off with commas–you can drop it from the sentence entirely, and the remaining words make perfect sense (and the “in effect” phrase is used in its usual sense to signal a paraphrase): “[Cohn] also said in effect, ‘better dead than alive…’”

Now try it the other way, dropping out the “in effect”: “[Cohn] also said on behalf of AID, ‘better dead…’” Still makes sense.

To get your strained reading, you’d need to move the commas around: “[Cohn] also said, in effect on behalf of AID, ‘better…’”

I note you produced no evidence that the words put into Cohn’s mouth were quoted exactly from some identified source (much less that Cohn was, in fact, speaking in his official capacity on behalf of AID when he allegedly spoke the words). We aren’t told when, or on what occasion, or in what context, much less in what capacity, Cohn allegedly made this statement.

Indeed, despite your claim to have read the whole book, you haven’t even affirmed that the book documents any of its factual claims, much less this one.

In any event, none of this matters, since whether accurate or not, Cohn is not an environmentalist and his purported statement cannot be construed as any sort of “overreaction” to environmental concerns.

Your initial claim was that “speeding” was the primary cause of accidents. You yourself showed that there is no official agreement that that is the case, regardless of how “speeding” is defined.

While the definition you eventually resorted to–any driving behavior that’s inappropriate for the prevailing conditions can, yes (as I’ve now several times agreed), be found among the definitions of speeding, it is not the usual definition understood by motorists or cited by cops. Your failure to acknowledge these facts, or my responsive post at all (until I pointed it out) is where your discussional integrity broke down.

I defend automobile accident claims for a living. I have done so for thirty years. I am well aware of the categories of driving behavior that generate the most accidents that get reported to insurance companies, that result any property damage or personal injury claims, that get settled before lawsuit, and that get taken to lawsuit. This is a far broader category of motor vehicle accidents than ever gets reported to the police or that make it into governmental statistics. Speeding, in the commonly-accepted and understood (as opposed to hypertechnical, “legal”) sense of the term, is not the cause of most of those accidents. Following too closely is (and again you have not bothered to respond to my discussion distinguishing that activity from “speeding”).

Please deal with the points made above with evidence or citation, or drop the matter.

Steviepinhead — Maybe I’ve been following this thread too closely?

:-)

And maybe I should just stop following it: all right, pal, back your head slowly away from that brick wall.

What part of stating a claim clearly and providing evidentiary support for your claim are we not communicating adequately.

Leading to that all-time internet favorite: frustration being reinterpreted as hostility.

Ah, well.

Russ -

I’m going to answer your question (this is the first time I’ve understood that you were asking one).

Other than this question, which I can answer, I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. That’s not a snide remark, it’s the literal truth.

What is your opinion here, where do you stand, what should be done about malaria in the 3rd world? Or do you think everything is fine and dandy as it is now?

I think that public health is critical to the development of societies that respect human rights and allow full development of human potential.

I strongly favor serious international efforts to address malaria, AIDS, and other devastating public health problems in Subsaharan Africa (I would feel the same way if Poland or Japan were experiencing these problems). The emphasis should be on eliminating or minimizing these threats to human life and dignity, but in a way that is sustainable and will not fall victim to predictable biological developments, nor create problems that are worse than the current situation.

I believe that an intelligent combination of insect control and drug treatment is the best current way to control malaria.

I believe that ethical vaccine research need not conflict with these approaches, and with the caveats that there are a number of very difficult technical problems to be overcome in such research, and that present lives should not be sacrificed for unproven dreams, I personally support the funding of intelligent, ethical vaccine research as well, past controversies notwithstanding.

When we use insecticides and drugs, we should be aware of the environmental impact or side effects that may ensue. Far from hampering the intelligent use of insecticides, ecologists and other scientists who study their effects allow us to understand this approach better. More knowledge is better. It does not hurt to know if pelican eggs are affected by an insecticide that may be beneficial against Anopheles mosquitoes; it can only be harmful not to know. Knowledge does not dictate our actions, it merely allows us to make them in a more informed and empowered way.

So in effect you’re saying you’re fine with what we’re doing now? We’re already using an intelligent combination of drug treatment and insect control, but in the form of nets not DDT. The main problem with the nets is they have to be re-impregnated with chemicals very so often which is a huge ordeal and not particularly cost effective. That’s why some places are now using DDT in the mix now that WHO has changed their minds and now AID organizations are actually funding DDT again in some places.

As for demanding evidence, everyone here including the bit at the top says the guy from the National Institute of Health is wrong when he says the word ban in relation to DDT, there was no actual ban. So how come people around the world who live in malarious countries like Africa insist that until recently they couldn’t get DDT? Why is it so many people who don’t live there are so quick to assume these people are all lying when they say that? I’ve yet to see any of you cite evidence to support your claims these people are lying.

Russ:

So how come people around the world who live in malarious countries like Africa insist that until recently they couldn’t get DDT? Why is it so many people who don’t live there are so quick to assume these people are all lying when they say that? I’ve yet to see any of you cite evidence to support your claims these people are lying.

Last I checked, Russ, Africa was a continent. Again, a minor point, if it didn’t fit so well with the clouds of vagueness which infuse your attempts at reasoning with us. What countries, precisely? Who the heck are “these people”? How the heck can we claim they’re lying, when you’ve never told us who we’re talking about in the first place? What we’ve never seen yet is any evidence for your claims, other than some anecdote about your several-week visit to the Philippines, where you read something in the newspaper. Stop being so fricking vague, dude. Find us a cite to a reputable source, and–who knows–maybe we’ll be convinced that there’s something to your claims… Until then, nah.

Stevie, in 1999 the World Wildlife Fund proposed a worldwide ban on DDT by 2007 stating “As long as it is used in the world, nobody is safe.” They eventually agreed that South Africa had a legitimate need to use DDT. When South Africa stopped using DDT in 96 malaria rose, when they started using it again in 2001 they saw a 90% decrease in incidence of malaria. South Africa had 27,000 cases of malaria in 96 before they banned DDT, by 1999 they had 62,220 cases, more than double in 3 years. Eventually even WWF conceded that South Africa was justified in using DDT for vector control in limited use.

Mozambique had a similar problem, with mosquitoes that were resistant to pyrethroid insecticides, the obvious answer was DDT, but Mozamique would not use DDT because officials said it would alienate international donors. When asked on the record why they rejected it they instead said it had nothing to do with alienating donors, they simply weren’t sure what the long term effects would be. Who says they rejected it because of donor concerns, only the malaria program manager of Mpumalanga, South Africa, who was asked for help by his colleagues in Mozambique. When he offered DDT, they refused for the above cited reasons.

“Donors are very reluctant to fund any kind of spraying using DDT because it’s politically incorrect,” said Richard Tren, director of the Johannesburg, South Africa-based Africa Fighting Malaria, which advocates the limited use of DDT. “They have this strange idea that because DDT isn’t being used in Sweden or the U.S., that they can’t use it in Africa. But people in Sweden and the U.S. are not dying before the age of 5 of preventable diseases.”

But what does he know just look at his job title he clearly knows less about Malaria and DDT than you do right?

This is from a 2003, Feb article in the LA Times.

Even the king of idiots, John Stossel, got a US AID official to admit on camera that for years we would not provide DDT to countries in Africa who asked for it because they had a policy of not providing a chemical to another country that was illegal to use in the US. She said it, they aired it, I heard it with my own ears.

All the WWF was trying to do in 1999 was make official what had been an un-written rule for years.

I have submitted a response to the foregoing, but it is apparently being held for moderation due to the inclusion of links (to such insidious sources as wikipedia and the LA Times…).

Moderators, if we wish to encourage our guests to provide evidence for their positions, discouraging the posting of links appears to be a rather strange way to go about it.

…Bah!

In debate, in staffing Congress, and in law, I learned that “what everybody knows” is often wrong. So hit the library.

On the internet, one can discover that some agencies complained about potential public backlash if they used DDT. Notably, USAID in the current Bush administration appeared to be looking for reasons not to send money to Africa to fight malaria as promised (I’m being very cynical, perhaps too cynical, with any luck). At the Environmental Defense website you can find ED’s letter urging USAID to use the money to purchase DDT if local African health authorities preferred DDT.

So there you have it: The very organization that FIRST sued to stop DDT use on Long Island (then known as the Environmental Defense Fund, or EDF), in 2004 urged the wise use of DDT against malaria in Africa.

The critics of Rachel Carson get it bass ackward every blessed time. They spin such a web of deceit they can’t tell when they get caught in it.

This has been a hot topic over at my blog, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. (www-dot-timpanogos-dot-wordpress-dot-com)

Nick: Has anyone actually ever seen the “Sweeney” hearing information that CEI and others keep referring to with the bogus citation? They claim Sweeney held 7 months of EPA hearings, then recommended DDT use be not banned, or maybe expanded, and that Ruckelshaus “unilaterally” overruled him. Of course, such an action by Ruckelshaus would be illegal under the Administrative Procedures Act and EPA’s own rules … but what did the hearings actually conclude? What did Sweeney rule? Anybody know? I’d sure love a copy if anyone has one.

how many pandas are there left

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on June 25, 2007 2:47 PM.

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