You've probably heard that the American bald eagle has just been removed from the federal list of protected species. While this comeback is certainly wonderful news for our revered national bird, those spreading the story are exploiting its opportunity to dust off moldy activist folklore.
Virtually every news organization (including Fox News) reporting this magnificent milestone is erroneously perpetuating the environmentalist lie that the disappearance of the great bird was due to the effects of DDT and that only the 1972 ban of the insecticide saved the eagle from extinction.
Go ahead and search "Bald Eagle" at Google News. Entrenched in each article lauding its reappearance, you'll find reference to DDT. But you'll find little or no mention that the majestic raptors were actually hunted to near extinction decades before DDT was ever used in the U.S. There'll be no indication that the DDT connection has been refuted in favor of such causes as continued illegal shooting, widespread loss of habitat, power line electrocution, in-flight collisions, and poisoning from consuming lead shot contaminated ducks.
Look closely for mention that prior to 1948, when Dr. Paul Muller won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering that DDT could kill malarial mosquitoes, two thirds of the world lived under the daily threat of death-by-malaria.
Or that in 1955, armed with Muller's cocktail, the World Health Organization began an extremely successful campaign to eradicate the deadly disease worldwide. As a result, global mortality rates were quickly reduced from 192 to fewer than 7 per 100,000. It actually appeared that the blight which had killed more people than the black plague was to finally be lifted from the planet -- until one woman's silly observations and theories literally changed mankind's destiny.
In 1962, American Biologist Rachel Carson's book, "Silent Spring," denounced DDT as a threat to human health and, more-to-the-point, bird populations. Carson claimed that the pesticide killed adult birds and thinned their egg shells, decreasing survival likelihood. While her facts themselves were thin and her conclusions downright anorexic, her words sparked a worldwide environmental movement hell-bent on the ban of DDT.
Here's just one example of the unintended consequences you're not likely to find extolled in the bald eagle stories. According to the American Council on Science and Health, in what is now Sri Lanka, malaria cases went from 2,800,000 in 1948, before the introduction of DDT, down to 17 in 1964 as a result of its use. Two years after Carson's book, DDT spraying was abruptly discontinued. Malaria cases then shot back up to 2,500,000 just five years later.
Across the globe, the miraculous success of the WHO malaria-eradication program saw massive and immediate reversals as more and more nations fell for the hype which has yet to be proven even to this day.
Things moved a bit slower here in the states, where malarial mosquitoes have been non-existent since the 1940's. Carson's title, which referred to a season bereft of bird song, evoked the perfect imagery to agitate the budding greenies. The newborn activists quickly blamed DDT for the disappearance of bald eagles and peregrine falcons, and, in 1972, pushed for EPA hearings -- despite a report from the National Academy of Science a year prior which stated that:
"It is estimated that, in little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths, due to malaria, that would otherwise have been inevitable."
Those hearings found that, contrary to Carson's alarm, DDT had no deleterious effect on humans, freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife. And yet, 10 years after publication of Carson's scare-manual and after 7 months of testimony, the 2 year old EPA banned DDT due to its "unreasonable adverse effects on man and the environment."
As no other pesticide has proven effective against malarial mosquitoes, this action put the final signature on what would amount to the death warrant of up to 3 million people each and every year.
As a gruesome corollary, unbridled environmental activism killed more people last century than Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Ze-Dong, Hideki Tojo and Pol Pot combined. Granted, the deaths were inadvertent -- but then, the perverse consequences of unqualified system meddling generally are. Global warming scare-mongers - pay heed!
So, as you read about the grand rebirth of our winged national emblem this Independence Day -- by all means -- join in the pride. But when you reach the part applauding the DDT ban, only eco-maniacs need join in the shame.