Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, a.k.a. DDT. This pesticide was effective in killing fleas, lice, mosquitoes, bed bugs, and many other pesky bugs. It was used throughout most of the world, and its use lead to a great reduction in diseases such as malaria and typhus.
Then came Rachel Carson, a marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Concerned about the potential environmental hazards produced by DDT and other pesticides, she would write her infamous book Silent Spring. In her book, she claimed that DDT was harmful to the environment because the poisoned bugs would be eaten by birds (and other animals) thus killing them off as well. Her book not only set off an anti-DDT campaign, but it also became the birth of the environmental movement.
In the early 1970s, the EPA held hearings on the potential hazards DDT might have on the environment, in addition to concerns that it might cause cancer. It found no evidence that DDT was harmful to humans or animals. But the EPA administrator at the time, William Ruckelshaus, banned DDT claiming it to be a potential carcinogen (i.e. it caused cancer). Of course, Ruckelshaus was also a member of the Audubon Society and the Environmental Defense Fund, and therefore both organizations’ concerns over the potential risks that DDT posed to the environment played a role in his decision to ban the substance.
Meanwhile, DDT had just begun to be used in Africa when it was banned. Other countries would either ban it or restrict its use. The result would be millions of malaria-related deaths in Africa. One wonders if Barack Obama would take heed of this tragic fact.
Needless to say, many environmentalists applauded the EPA’s decision to ban DDT. Some even went so far as to say the ban would save the planet not only because they believed DDT was harmful to the environment, but also because they viewed the ban as essential to human population control. There are two things you can learn from such a viewpoint: 1) environmentalists have a tendency to prefer human deaths over the deaths of any other species; and 2) the irony of this viewpoint is that Africa has the fastest-growing population in the world despite all the millions of malaria-related deaths (so much for population control in that continent).
Due to the ban on DDT, the United States (and other countries) have resorted to using less effective ways of dealing with mosquitoes, fleas, bed bugs, etc. The results include a comeback by bed bugs and the West Nile virus outbreak. Tom Bethell (author of Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, of which a chapter is devoted to DDT), predicts that DDT will be brought back should malaria return to the United States.
In conclusion, DDT (banned due to the scare tactics and junk science of the environmentalists) needs to be brought back.
For more information regarding DDT, check out this website: http://junkscience.com/1999/07/26/100-things-you-should-know-about-ddt/.