Saturday, May 26, 2007

Who Ordered That

The hundred year wingnuts have emerged to devour the centenary of Rachel Carsons death birth (tip of the ears to Steve Bloom. You can read about the various abuses over at Deltoid, Deltoid, Deltoid, but that being an Aussie blog, Eli will point to the local inaction:

The U.S. Senate adjourned for the Memorial Day weekend yesterday without taking up a resolution honoring environmental author Rachel Carson, meaning that the measure will not be passed in time for the 100th anniversary of her birth, congressional staff members said. . .
But plans were stymied when Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) used Senate rules to block the measure. Coburn said Carson's "junk science" improperly stigmatized the pesticide DDT and prevented it from being used on malaria-carrying mosquitoes. As a result, Coburn said, numerous people in the developing world have died of the disease.
Susan Sullam, a spokeswoman for Cardin, said yesterday that she was unsure whether he would continue to press for the resolution's passage.
Those who wish to honor Carson, might write to Senator Cardin. OTOH, they might also write to Sen. Coburn. Of course, this being Washington DC, we have our local infestations, one of which emerged from larval form onto the Washington Post letter page, a Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute who said (in part)
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.
Bate being one of the fabricators of the Carson as a killer myth as well as the type of all around scum who tried to make a living by shilling for tobacco. Sourcewatch thinks Philip Morris turned down the book proposal. Well Philip may have had better taste and told Bates to walk the streets for free, but Sadly No, the Tobacco Institute funded the book, "What Risk".

The proposal is worth reading, if only for the budget (£50K of which £5K was to go to distributing the book to thems what counts - sadly, thems what counts ususally can't and their reading skills are none too good) and the proposed list of authors, among which we find such familiar luminaries Zbigniew Jaworowski and Princess Denial, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen . Ziggie made it into the book, providing a chapter on how radon is good for the health, but as interestingly, the proposal had one Julian Morris as co-editor. George Monbiot recounts how Morris told him he had and wanted nothing to do with the book
Julian Morris insists that his name was added to the document without his consent. He says he had “nothing” to do with the book(9). It was published in 1997 under the title “What Risk?”(10). It has a foreword by David Davis MP. It claims that passive smoking is no more dangerous than “eating 50g of mushrooms a week” and attacks “politically correct” beliefs such as “passive smoking causes lung cancer” and “mankind’s emissions of carbon dioxide will result in runaway global warming.” Julian Morris is not named as its co-editor, but he is the first person thanked in the acknowledgements, for his “editorial suggestions”.
Monbiot goes on to talk about the players
The book’s editor, Roger Bate, is currently a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute – which has received $1.6m from ExxonMobil(11) – and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received $2 million(12). Until 2003, he was Julian Morris’s predecessor as head of the IPN (International Policy Network). When the book was written, he ran the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF), which published “What Risk?”. The registered owner of ESEF’s website is Julian Morris(13). He claims he had nothing to do with ESEF either, and registered the name purely “as a favour to a friend”(14).
and their teams
PRWatch alleges that ESEF was originally called Scientists for Sound Public Policy (SSPP), and was founded by a public relations agency working for the tobacco company Philip Morris(15). Documents in the tobacco archives show that SSPP was the subject of a fierce turf war between the PR firms Burson Marsteller and APCO, who were vying for Philip Morris’s account. Burson Marsteller’s proposal argued that “industrial resistance” to regulation is “perceived as protection of commercial self-interests”. A different “countervailing voice” was required, consisting of “international opinion formers supported financially by the industry”. Their role would be “educating opinion leaders, politicians and the media.”(16) The group would also seek funding from other industries. Some of the people ESEF recruited as “academic members” were people working for US lobby groups later funded by Exxon, who have made false claims about climate change(17).
but how, young innocent bunnies, you ask, does this have anything to do with Rachel Carson. Ah, you have to remember that in the late 1990s, the World Health Organization was organizing a global response to the plague of deaths due to tobacco. Eli reading in the Tobacco Archives comes across this interesting dot connector from the good Roger Bate to David Greenberg of Philip Morris
It was a pleasure to meet with you last week . Following our discussion I have done as you suggested and thought about topics and areas of interest where I can possibly either do some work for you, or you may interested in supporting our work .

As outlined in more detail in my previous correspondence, the antimalaria project is one that I hope you will be able to support . Other than its humanitarian, scientific and public policy interest it should enable me to build contacts with politicians and scientist/thinkers from developing African countries . As demonstrated in the debate and policy shift on ivory trading, these representatives are particularly important in the UN/WHO process . I would be happy to regularly inform you of the progress on this front .

It will also afford me, and several colleagues, the opportunity of writing opinion articles and books (see Public Health book outline from previous correspondence) about the disparity between the current and correct roles of environmental public health . Usual first world targets, such as FT, WSJ, etc . will be complemented with other less known but important African papers.

If you are able to donate to the Malaria campaign, I will pass on the coordinates for the new operation, initially based in UK, but soon to have offices in South Africa.

In addition to this support, I would like to propose that I work on projects for you on an ad hoc basis . In your work, influencing the WHO on their tobacco protocol, there are probably several areas where I can help . For example, contacts who may be appreciative of your efforts and arguments may develop via the malaria work and I could probably act as a liaison between you and them.

I can also write short reports on subjects salient to your interest in the protocol. The first that could be attempted is a brief history of the Montreal Protocol and its relevance to the proposed tobacco protocol . I'm sure other topics will spring to mind that I can work on but let me know if, in principle, you are interested in this approach and in particular the Montreal Protocol paper to start with . Its probably three to five days work.

As you probably know I was working for PMCS Brussels at a rate of 800 pounds sterling a day . I would be content to continue to work at the same rate.
Nice of him


Tim Lambert said...

Oh, wow. The "new operation" is, of course, Africa Fighting Malaria.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, CFCs, tobacco, pesticides--truth stranger than the fiction of "Thank You for Smoking". Of course eagle shells are thinned by DDT, so Ethon may have had a personal interest in dot-connecting. Roger Bate and Switch?

Anonymous said...

So, Tim, you have the rest of the Bate/AFM story?

Anonymous said...

I see that according to Sourcewatch, Bate is AFM co-director, but AFM's website seems to be no longer in existence, at least as linked from SW. Are they still in business and does Bate remain associated?

Anonymous said...

Ah, here they are. SW's link was to a dead page. Right up front there's a nice little attack on Carson by honorary Canadian national bird Margaret Wente, who opens with asking us to believe that Carson inspired her to be an environmentalist. Bate is identified as just a board member currently, which I assume means (if accurate) that his major activities are elsewhere. The guy really is quite the all-around shill, I must say.

Anonymous said...

I wish for once some billionaire would go after the bastards at CEI, AEI and Cato when they libel people like Carson.

That's the only thing that will stop them from doing it to others in the future.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to take on journalist at the Washington Post when they run quotes from people like Bate.

This crap of using industry shills and then not ID'ing them as such has been a part of U.S. journalism for too long.

Mus musculus anonymouse

Coeruleus said...

Wanker of the day?

Ed Darrell said...

So, have you seen this site? Can you tell who runs it, who owns it?

EliRabett said...

Well, without too much looking we find Mr. Moneybags:

"D Rutledge Taylor DO/MDcrt, originally from Mississippi, received his BA in Biology and Chemistry at Delta State University in 1988 and his medical degree at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in 1996. He completed his residency in traditional General Medicine at the University of Alabama in 1999. He has built a LA based preventative and anti-aging medical practice (a unique blend of traditional and alternative therapies aimed at thwarting cell death), pioneered a cellular feed anti-aging nutrition company, and is branding a line of skin care products. "

That does not exactly inspire confidence, but he seems to be getting a good press.

Anonymous said...

Erratum: Eli, your opening line notes the centenary of Carson's death. That would be birth.

david lewis said...

I don't see where Pearce has committed himself in the Yale 360 piece to an attack on Carson.

He is attacking an environment movement that according to him, "has been dangerously wrong before" and is wrong now about whatever he's gassing on about.

What he says the movement got wrong in the past was its "blanket opposition" to DDT that he thinks was the case, that he thinks resulted in "millions of deaths".

Pierce was careful when naming Carson to absolve her, i.e.: "When Rachel Carson's sound case against the mass application of DDT... morphed into".

Carson died very soon after publishing "Silent Spring" well before any of this "morphing" took place. No one can pin any of this opposition to using DDT for malaria control on her, and Pierce doesn't seem to be doing so.

david lewis said...

Testimony by an insider that the morphing did take place by a movement made up of many people who claimed to be inspired by Rachel Carons, after her death, is provided by a recent interview with Jonathon Porritt aired on the Australian public broadcaster (aired Oct 28 2012 available as a podcast and transcript here)

Porritt, in the interview:

"As Director of Friends of the Earth [ my note: in the U.K. ] through much of the 1980s I lived through these controversies myself and although we acknowledged at that time that there was still a role for DDT in malaria control (until such time as better alternatives were brought in), we didn’t exactly go out of our way to celebrate the success of DDT in saving so many lives. Our principal concern was to get all organophosphates, not just DDT, banned for use in agriculture, and so we tended to play down the public health arguments.

With the benefit of hindsight I came to the conclusion some time ago that campaigners got this one wrong by not distinguishing between the use of DDT in agriculture and the use of DDT in public health. It’s the one part of the legacy of Rachel Carson and Silent Spring that causes me much discomfort."

Porritt goes further than Pierce and tries to pin responsibility for his excesses on her, i.e. the statement about how the Carson "legacy" somehow caused his excesses.

And Porritt is now cranking out the Carson opposed DDT for malaria control lie along with all the other morons:

Porritt: "Carson was also unforgiving in her attack on the use of DDT in particular, and not just in its use in agriculture. Although she was well aware of the horrific impact of insect-borne diseases on human health (including malaria, dengue fever, sleeping sickness, typhus and so on), she somehow failed to acknowledge that DDT had already played a significant role in helping to control the insects that carry these diseases - most importantly of all, the mosquito."

Which is unadulterated horsesh*t.

Carson, in this recording, speaking to the National
Women's Press Club in 1962, at minute 5:30: "I do favor insect control in appropriate situations"

Page 12, "Silent Spring" "It is not my contention that chemical pesticides must never be used. I do contend that we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals indiscriminately into the hands of persons largely or wholly ignorant of their potentials for harm." -Google Books has a copy online that can be searched to see this.

An extended recent interview with one of her biographers, William Souder is here. He speaks on Carson, DDT and malaria, starting around minute 6 54 seconds:

"...Again, to reiterate, Carson always said that she was not opposed to such uses of DDT, she stated categorically, again and again, in many situations, and so she never, ever, said that DDT should not be used to fight malaria."

I'd say in Porritt's case its something like Marxists could always be counted on not to have read Marx.

Ed Darrell said...

Rachel Carson was responsible for "millions of deaths?"

You mean, because Idi Amin read her book, and then stopped the use of DDT to help his nation fight malaria? Are you serious?

Reality: After Rachel Carson, malaria death rates dropped. If Carson is responsible for the change in deaths, she saved millions of lives.

Just look at the numbers.

WHO estimated malaria deaths, worldwide, were north of 5 million a year from 1945 through 1962.

In 1972, when EPA banned DDT from U.S. crops, WHO estimated malaria deaths ran 3.5 million each year. Malaria deaths had declined each year from "Silent Spring" to the DDT ban.

WHO's estimates showed annual declines, despite the DDT ban in the U.S., from 1972 to 1990. What happened in 1990? Malaria parasites themselves developed resistance to the medicines used to cure patients. With no good way to cure humans, malaria began a slow rise, and depending on whose figures you use, may have touched 2 million a year in the early 1990s.

China's rediscovery of artemisinin as a treatment hit world markets in the 1990s. With a good treatment available, NGOs pushed bednets as a good alternative to DDT spraying in bedrooms. By 1999, annual deaths were under 1 million/year. Deaths declined each year thereafter until 2017. Developed nations cut funding to fight malaria, contrary to promises, and infections and deaths rose slightly -- but still stayed under 430,000 per year, more than 90% reduction from peak DDT.