David Pescovitz at 11:23 am Thu, Aug 23, 2012
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David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.
Eurovision 2013: An American in London
The technology that links taxonomy and Star Trek
Places beleaguered by malaria might agree with this ad.
Assuming their local mosquitos haven’t acquired resistance (or lost it since acquiring it). DDT’s efficacy dropped off uncomfortably fast.
Yeah, we’ve been trained to think of DDT as this absolutely evil poison, but even my ultra environmentalist human ecology professor in college would tell us that while DDT killed off the bald eagles, it also saved countless human lives. It’s not so clear cut.
It’s true. Not only that, the eradication campaign was basically “all-or-nothing,” that is, wipe out practically all the skeeters, or they’ll come back in a few years as if you hadn’t done a thing (except with greater resistance). It’s tragic that in many areas the backlash against DDT, as well as the resistance developed by the mosquitos (which can pretty safely be blamed on irresponsible over-application in agriculture, not by comparatively light public health work) came right at that tipping point. Many [African] nations received a hearty dose of DDT with very little to show for it, not because the chemical didn’t work or was too dangerous, but because we just couldn’t use the stuff responsibly.
If you listen to conservative and libertarians propaganda it sounds like DDT is some silver bullet against insects. Non toxic to humans, lethal to insect, and by assumption free of problems of resistance.
However, this is not true. Health effects of long term exposure of humans to DDT is likely unknown, since it’s use was banned more than 40 years ago. And insect rapidly acquire resistance to it.
For example, DDT was used in Africa for mosquito control in the 50′s, use was discontinued when the mosquito’s developed resistance and they and malaria returned. This happened a decade before the ban.
Malaria was present in the south up until the great depression when it was finnaly eliminated under public health programs under the New Deal. (Oooooh noooos teh socialism!) and DDT wasn’t used for that.
What Africans need is effective public health measures. to control malaria. To do that though you need political and economic stability something that has been quite lacking in Africa.
Dee Dee, Joey, Johnny and Tommy I salute you…
“DDT is good for me-e-e”
sings the young mother and her five horribly mutated children
I could have sworn there was a bald eagle flying over in the original version of this. Oh, wait, the DDT took it out.
How many human deaths are Rachel Carson and Silent Spring responsible for?
As long as we’re asking rhetorical questions, who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?
Well people were freaked out when it looked like we were going to lose the bald eagle and the brown pelican.
When trace amounts of a substance drives species to extinction, it’s hard to ignore.
But you are free to eat 100 mg a day and see how that works for you.
Not just Bald Eagles, but hawks, Ospreys, and other birds were all approaching extinction by the time I was a kid. I saw ONE Osprey growing up. I see a dozen every day now.
I set up a little table with Dixie cups of Kool-Aid for all the concern trolls.
: ) Ladies and gentlemen, longtime bOING bOING pal Stefan Jones! (applause)
Of all the pesticides out there, DDT is among the safest to spray around humans. Problem is, we foolishly wasted this resource by spraying it on fields, which is how the skeeters evolved resistance to it.
If not for that, DDT would still be useful today, and yes, we would be spraying homes with it.
There are photos of WW2 refugees being dusted with large amounts of DDT powder to kill lice.
DDT is among the safest to spray around humans.
No, it really isn’t. Read the MSDS. It’s very nasty, it accumulates in the body, and women can pass it to their babies through breastmilk. There are plenty of pesticides developed since then that are less toxic to humans.
DDT would still be useful today, and yes, we would be spraying homes with it.
No, we wouldn’t. Even if it were effective, the environmental and human toxicity would still be unacceptable. There are plenty of other pesticides that are less toxic to humans, and less persistent.
I remember seeing that ’7up into milk’ a few times, there’s a copy in a illustration room at my college.
I got a glass of half Moxie, half milk after school every day.
Enough about DDT already. What about those babies wrapped in plastic!?
”The best things in life come in Cellophane”
Check out Gene Autry’s “Riders of the Whistling Pines,” in which corrupt lumber barons try to make it look like DDT is responsible for poisoning livestock. Gene uncovers the plot, brings the bad guys to justice, and prevents them from tarnishing the good name of DDT. (To be fair, they might not have known the full effects of DDT in 1949.)
let’s see here, you’ve got your chicken. ok. there’s a dog. a cow. an apple. a young lady. and… a…. turd.
I heard that burning coal actually injects more radioactive DDT directly into eagle fetuses than all of the spraying in quadrant 7C of the Milky Way combined.
Thanks a lot guys! The ban on DDT allowed me to become REAL good friends with my (uninvited) roommates for a time… The Bedbugs.
The banning of DDT agricultural use shouldn’t have affected indoor use, but because some idiot farmers think that: “If some is good, more is better!” and was harming raptors and other fish-eaters as a result, made DDT a dirty word for ALL THE THINGS! The ban caused by the agricultural (over-)use, and ONLY agricultural (over-)use, extended to ALL uses, including indoor use, which allowed my good friends the bedbugs, to receive reduced exposure, which allowed them to acquire resistance that they normally wouldn’t have survived long enough to get had there not been a total ban in the first place.
Now that they have the resistance, that’s IT! There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle, we’re stuck with DDT resistant bedbugs. Which meant that I had to deal with them with much less effective, and much more dangerous, methods: I was required to go through a succession of even more and more toxic chemical pesticides, all of which are more harmful to both myself AND the environment than DDT ever was to fight the bugs.
Unfortunately, in the end, the pesticides were all partial solutions, as I couldn’t get to all the bugs’ hiding-places to eradicate them, and it only ended when I was forced to engage in TOTAL WAR against the bloodsuckers by spreading diatomaceous earth (a component of TNT, btw…) strategically over all the places where humans with our delicious blood usually occupy …to the point where I was practically sleeping in it. Which was a joy with my asthma… So, despite being “non-toxic” and environmentally-friendly, diatomaceous earth dust ended up being more dangerous to me than the pesticides were, due to my breathing issues.
While the diatomaceous earth is dust on a human-scale, on a bedbug’s-scale, the spread dust acts like a field of tiny, tiny, shards of broken glass, which the bug must crawl through to get to my delicious blood. As a result; the bug dies in terrible agony from blood-loss caused by many, many, cuts. While I considered that to be a distinct bonus, it is offset by the fact that the dust would the same thing to the fragile lining of my lungs, which is why I used it as my weapon of last resort. However, after enduring a several month period of both bugs and dust, the dust won out, and my house has been bedbug free ever since.
To everyone who feel smugly superior about removing a (formerly) useful tool, because one (mis-)use of that tool was harming the environment; I sincerely wish bedbugs upon your house …and good-night!
On a non-DDT note (I hope), I worked as a school nurse 6 years ago in a quite well-off district, and part of the free school breakfast program for the low-income kids was vitamin-infused donuts. So some things have not changed…