Friday, August 18, 2006

Interesting editorial in today's Washington Post

Here

6 comments:

Dan Hughes said...

The irony is almost overwhelming; " Because of an anticipated increase in malaria, Africa will probably be hit especially hard, … "

DDT was probably among the first issues in which science and politics mixed it up. An uncountable number of humans have suffered ever since.

EliRabett said...

Roll the eyes as the DDT card is played. The USAID provides a good summary of current practice.

Mosquitos were increasingly resistant to DDT during the 50s and 60s because of massive agricultural spraying. In short DDT became very ineffective for malaria control. Tim Lambert has made a subspecialty of dealing with the concerted effort to depict DDT as the miracle cure, and many of the comments contain useful pointers to reality.

Bill F said...

Setting aside the moral issues, if the US and China have less to lose and more to gain from continuing our current practices, why is it in the compelling national interest of the country to spend money to change what we are doing? I say that somewhat as a devil's advocate, but also with an eye towards how the rest of the world views US foreign aid. In most countries, foreign aid payments from the US are used as diplomatic currency. For instance, if the US wants support from India on some issue, it is common practice for India to ask for more financial aid, a cheaper price on military hardware they want to buy, or halting the sale of some weapons system to Pakistan in return for their support. In other words, getting their support for issues that are important to us costs us money and it costs us diplomatic capital. Viewed in that light, is there any reason why the US shouldn't use the global warming issue the same way back on other nations to whom global warming is a much larger threat? If it is very much in their interests to see the US cut back on GHG emissions, why can't we ask for something from them that is very much in our interests? I am not talking about money...but instead things like support for things like tracking of terrorism groups, halting drug smuggling and production, democratic reforms, etc.

Don't take this the wrong way...there are plenty of reasons for us to cut pollution emissions that have nothing to do with GHG and global warming, and I firmly believe we should be doing so. But if the rest of the world has more to gain from reaching a comprehensive GHG limit agreement than we do, why shouldn't we drive a hard bargain to get what we want as well? The US is one of the few countries in the world that is routinely criticized for doing what is right for ourselves instead of what is right for the world. When other countries make unpopular decisions based on their own interests, the world shrugs and says "they are doing what is best for their national interests". When the US does the same, the world declares that we are "insensitive to world opinion", "selfish", "arrogantly ignorant", etc. This is one issue where it is already in our interests for several reasons to cut emissions. But if the world sees that they have more to gain than we do from encouraging us to do so, then we should take advantage of that fact.

Dan Hughes said...

elirabett, and malaria parasites develop resistance to treatment drugs. Google (gates "malaria deaths").

The irony is that the 'science' was wrong; Carlson missed it. And the whole thing got sucked up into politics and really made a mess.

Bill said...

Malaria develops resistance to drugs...Mosquitoes develop resistance to pesticides. DDT is a pesticide and by the time DDT use was eliminated, its effectiveness in areas where it had been used in large quantities was in steep decline due to resistance developed by the mosquito populations. The only way to keep using it effectively was to use higher concentrations more often, and that type of use was what led to the effects Rachel Carson wrote about. Carson didn't get it wrong...she got it right. People who long for the past (when we were blissfully unaware of how ineffective and misguided our efforts to assert control over nature were) are the ones who have it wrong.

George Landis said...

I find this editorial totally unremarkable, not very insightful, and hardly news. These are the primary reasons Kyoto was DOA in the Senate in 1997, along with the ham handed politically naive tactics of Clinton, Gore, and Wirth. As well as for the utter collapse of the two ill advised McCain-Lieberman bills. So what else is new? How much pain will the taxpayers of America and the rising capitalists of China want to suffer to "save the world"? I would bet not much. Better have a plan B, if it's really necessary to cut CO2, which is another issue all together, as this editorial assumes human CO2 is the only factor that needs consideration in climate.