May 21, 2007

Point Counterpoint

I report, you decide. Recent letter in recent NR:
Good to see the bald eagle is resurgent (“Baldly Back,” April 30), but a cost-benefit analysis of the bird’s recovery is in order. As John J. Miller reported, there were 417 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states in 1963. Since the ban on DDT, that number has swelled to 9,000 pairs. But DDT effectively controlled the Anopheles mosquito that carries the malaria parasite, reducing the number of cases to near zero. The ban, and our attendant unwillingness to use DDT in the developing world, has allowed the scourge to worsen. Some 350-500 million cases occur worldwide each year, and more than a million die from the disease, primarily children in sub-Saharan Africa. This is brutal math — it costs the lives of scores of black and brown babies to save a single eagle. --Clark Larsen
Response from my environmentalist uncle:
They don't tell you that mosquitoes can become resistant to DDT very quickly and that it is absorbed into our system and accumulates in our fat tissues. It caused thinning of the eggshell in birds to the point where they broke when the birds sat on them. Who knows what it does to people. There are safer pesticides out there, and the problems in Africa stems from there corrupt goverments and a lot of other issues. There are other ways of dealing with malaria, among them distributing nets to sleep under which has reduced malaria incidents greatly where used. If the West suffered from malaria like the 3rd world does a lot more money and research would be invested into the problem. But that may change with global warming and the spread of the malaria moquitoes futher north into previously safe areas.

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