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Silent Spring II

©02 The Media Desk

       In the nineteen fifties the modern 'Green' movement got moving.
       In 1962 the 'Green' manifesto Silent Spring was published. Rachel Carson, a former staff writer for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, had written a Masterpiece of Environmental Alarmism.
       She over-stated her case, drew conclusions based on sometimes irrelevant data, and wrote obtusely about how DDT, Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, was going to kill everything on the planet.
       DDT was banned and Silent Spring did for the Environmentalists what Upton Sinclair's The Jungle did for stockyard inspections half a century before. Suddenly the movement had legs and they have never looked back.

       Until now.

       West Nile Virus and its death toll, at this writing fast closing on a hundred human deaths, may be the undoing of what Ms Carson and her followers have done to us.

       She wrote about how the thin eggshells of various birds and other effects in the wild of a buildup of the insecticide would eventually lead to the deaths of everything beautiful in the world.

       In the seventies in Junior High, Silent Spring was required reading, so the Desk read it. This was back when the State Schools still required you to actually READ an assigned reading book.
       The one thing the Desk still remembers about the book was how it built, supposition upon assumption upon opinion until the whole thing seemed to teeter precariously. The Desk also remembers the teacher's comments about it. "It will be all proven in time. Let's just hope we're not too late to change it." Or something to that flavor, it has been... a couple of years... since junior high school.

       Well. It has been proved. DDT was not the demon Ms. Carson had painted it to be. Eggshell thinness is due to all sorts of factors, one of which may have been DDT, if the bird ate its weight in the chemical every day of its life. And some of Ms. Carson's other assumptions have come under fire as well.
       See more about the debunking of the anti-DDT argument at:
       But the ban on DDT persists.

       Enter West Nile Virus....

       The Ban on DDT continues.

       Until one woman in St. Louis noticed she hadn't had to refill her bird feeder for over a week. She had been filling it twice a day. The birds that had turned her back yard into an aviary were gone. Where there had been dozens of birds of all descriptions she hadn't seen a single one in a couple of days.
       Until a Game Warden in a southern state noticed the morning ritual of flocks of birds leaving the park for parts unknown was down to a trickle.
       Until an entire parish in Louisiana is under siege from it with many residents sick and a few that have died.
       Until racehorses are being treated for it. Until it threatens to wipe out all the raptors in Ohio. Until it has turned normally busy public picnic areas and swimming holes into ghost towns.
       Until Hospitals are screaming because West Nile can be transmitted by blood transfusions and organ transplants and KILL the recipient.
       Until county and municipal mosquito control budgets spraying 'politically correct' non-persistent agents are depleted and the mosquitoes are still breeding like... like flies.

       It isn't Environmental Conservatives and Anti-'Greens' that are beginning to call for the lifting of the DDT ban, it's the Public Health Officials scrambling to treat the hundreds now infected, the Natural Resources people trying to contain the epidemic of mosquitoes carrying the disease, the politicians who have to answer to a public starting to wonder if it's safe to take the garbage out after dark.

       Yes... Next spring may be Silent after all, just as the late Ms. Carson predicted.

       But it won't be because of DDT. It will be because of the lack of it.

       And no.... before the hate mail comes in.... The Desk is NOT saying that if we had been using DDT all along it would have prevented the spread of West Nile. But since the local head of mosquito control is out buying bulk containers of insecticide and saying they need a lower cost persistent agent to control the bugs...
       In any case, maybe it's time to lift the ban.

       Three million dead crows can't be wrong can they?


[NOTE: The Desk is in no way affiliated with any of the above. DDT was a registered trademark of Geigy Corporation. For more information do a search on DDT in a search engine or visit the above link to ]

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