Folks who stop at a slot machine in the Las Vegas airport between flights can usually risk the few dollars that will probably disappear, but the serious gambler—whether the stock market, the ponies, or cards—assesses the risk before they cash in their chips. Even then, they make miscalculations. That’s why they call it gambling.
Last week, Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund miscounted his cards when he claimed that new EPA regulations will “protect the IQ of countless of American kids and help clear the air for millions of Americans with asthma.” Citing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards the EPA rolled out on December 21, that he said was 21 years in the making, his widely-published op-ed said that the US “has always had good sense when taking on hazardous substances in our environment.”
The first card Krupp lays down in support of his argument that the US has “good sense” is DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)—which the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) cofounder, Victor Yannacone, was instrumental in banning back in 1972. Using DDT as an example of “good sense,” Krupp says it was banned “after learning that the pesticide was killing birds of prey.” Even though the EDF sprang up in the late sixties with the single purpose of battling the use of DDT, it is surprising that he is still trying this old trick.
Since DDT was used in WWII to successfully control typhus and malaria, it has gone from winner to loser and back to winner again. In 1948, Dr. Paul Muller, the scientist who discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. The tables turned when Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962 and referenced experiments done that claimed DDT thinned birds’ eggshells. Ultimately, through the work of EDF, DDT was banned in 1972. Because of that decision, malaria has spread, and millions have died from it. Instead of eliminating the disease’s vector, the mosquito, drugs have been developed to treat the disease, and those drugs are now proving ineffective, as malaria has grown resistant to them.
Since then, additional studies have been done and the eggshell findings have been revisited. DDT wasn’t the problem it was once believed to be. In 2006, the World Health Organization declared that, DDT “will once again play a major role in its efforts to fight the disease.” DDT kills the mosquitos that spread the disease.
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