Rachel Carson's Silent Spring at 50 Years

"It’s not polite to talk about brown and black people dying because rich white people in America feel better about themselves when the brown and black people don’t get to use DDT," says the University of Alabama's Andrew Morriss, co-editor of the new book Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson.

Published by the Cato Institute, the collection of essays by environmentalists, law professors, economists, and other analysts argues that the legacy of Carson's best-known book - widely considered the starting point of the modern environmentalist movement and the international ban on the malaria-fighting pesticide DDT  - has caused many more problems than it has solved.

Reason’s Katherine Mangu-Ward sat down with Morriss to talk about Carson’s work and influence on environmental policy.

About 5.30 minutes.

Camera by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain; edited by Swain. 

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  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Maybe Randy Marsh should start a new "thing" in science, kind of like he did with "Sarcastaball" on last night's South Park.

    "Oh, by all means, let's just start selling DDT on every corner so just anyone can get it. Let's just spray DDT on everything. THAT wou;d really be helpful..."

    How to undo 50 years of bullshit science? SARCASM!

  • Caleb Turberville||

    I don't feel qualified to discuss much about environmentalism, but does anyone else have a problem the frequent use of appeal to emotion? I much more like utilitarian environmental arguments, or at least can stomach because, frankly, I'm not that big of a nature person.

  • ||

    I too prefer more logical arguments, rather than emotional ones. People can make arguments with emotion in them without making direct appeals to emotion. If you lay out the facts and explain your reasoning, people can better understand it than if you say things like

    It’s not polite to talk about brown and black people dying because rich white people in America feel better about themselves when the brown and black people don’t get to use DDT

    You're not going to convince someone to agree with you that way. You're just "preaching to the choir", which is functionally meaningless.

  • sarcasmic||

    but does anyone else have a problem the frequent use of appeal to emotion?

    That's what being on the left is all about! Don't think! Emote!

  • Rich||

    Come on, guys. Just shrug it off.

    That's what Mother Gaia does.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    I mean, I try to envision human life during the triassic; and while the environment would be biologically interesting, I doubt you could find a human who wouldn't mind some long-term global cooling, even if it meant the death of the dinosaurs.

  • ||

    A lefty friend of mine actually made an interesting point when I told him to stop emoting and start thinking.

    He basically said (paraphrasing here), that since humans are emotional creatures, if you're relying on logic and the ability of people to not let their emotions influence their thinking and decision making, then you've already lost. People have always been, and will always be, emotional, and any system of gov't (we were discussing libertarianism) that doesn't appeal to that or which tries to minimize it is automatically doomed to failure.

    I couldn't really think of a good response on the spot.

  • Paul.||

    Government gives me a sad.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Love of freedom isn't an emotion?

  • ||

    Yes, but you know what I mean. I'm responding to sarcasmic, who correctly points out that progs often let policies that make them feel good get in the way of common sense.

    My friend's point was, this is an immutable characteristic of human nature and any philosophy which does not take this into account is an automatic fail.

    I think ultimately it just comes down to the fact that most people prefer to both be controlled, and to have others controlled. The instinct to freedom is simply not widespread in the population, and so we're basically always going to be pissing into the wind.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Then you have to change what makes them feel good.

    For me, a good fuck you to the governmental nannies makes me feel good.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    My friend's point was, this is an immutable characteristic of human nature and any philosophy which does not take this into account is an automatic fail.

    I think ultimately it just comes down to the fact that most people prefer to both be controlled, and to have others controlled. The instinct to freedom is simply not widespread in the population, and so we're basically always going to be pissing into the wind.

    I'm sorry, but that sounds like some Drapetomania-type bullshit to me. Just as people one thought that Blacks instinctually wanted to be joyful darkies working on the plantation under the care of a benevolent master, today, the fallacy exists that liberty is alien "human nature", usually due to some Evolutionary Psychology 'just-so story'.

    Take the red pill, man.

  • ||

    I have to go with Gojira on this one HM. Looking around me I see plenty of people who, black and white, are just fine with being joyful darkies under the care of benevolent masters. Not even just fine, they fucking love it.

    What Scruffy said about giving a good fuck you to those masters makes me feel good too, but to the vast majority it gives them a gut-felt fear that they cant really understand.

  • ||

    That's just because people are taught to think that way. It's not any more a natural response than challenging authority is. They're both influences, but "obedience" isn't inherently dominant.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Fine. Pull out some pictures of dead or dying kids in sub-Saharan Africa and force them to explain why this is a better outcome than moderated use of DDT.

  • ||

    If we'd been talking about DDT at the time instead of just general government philosophy, that would be a great response.

    I'm sure I'd hear a bunch of bullshit about mosquito nets and free anti-malarials that should be provided by western nations.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Destroy their hope. Because their hope is that someday the right people will be in charge and everything will be pansies and butterflies. Take that away from them.

  • ||

    That is a good point Gojira. I am stunned a lefty came up with it. What I usually get in response to the 'stop emoting and start thinking' statement is; "That is such a boring way to live your life. Emoting is exciting and thinking is boring."

    When I point out that people who live like that spend their personal lives bumblefucking their way from one trainwreck to another they just shrug.

    Guess who they call when the next trainwreck occurs?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Guess who they call when the next trainwreck occurs?

    GHOSTBUS....err never mind.

  • ||

    He basically said (paraphrasing here), that since humans are emotional creatures, if you're relying on logic and the ability of people to not let their emotions influence their thinking and decision making, then you've already lost.

    It's a false choice to think that we have to choose logic or emotion for our arguments. Emotions will always influence our thinking, but that doesn't mean they are the only things that help us decide. The best arguments are logically structured rather than emotional appeals, but still have emotion in them. Make a sound, step-by-step argument for something, and infuse that argument with a passion for what you believe. The emotional connection can be made without directly appealing to emotion. If we're relying primarily on emotion, THEN we've already lost. "It's for the children" will always trump "more money isn't working" as a direct emotional appeal. But if you take the time to show that more money isn't working, then argue that we should look at alternatives for educating our children, you'll win over more people in time. Instead of trying to minimize it, you can let your passion show through the written or verbal structure without compromising your use of logic. This is even easier to do with speeches.

  • ||

    People have always been, and will always be, emotional, and any system of gov't (we were discussing libertarianism) that doesn't appeal to that or which tries to minimize it is automatically doomed to failure.

    People are emotional, but we're not ONLY emotional. I don't think libertarianism appeals less to emotion than other political philosophies, it just appeals to it in a different way. Using more logic doesn't have to mean using less emotion, instead it can mean having a different way of channeling that emotion through our reasoning. And government structures don't "appeal" to emotion or reason, they're just ways things are allowed to work. It isn't even about making those structures more or less susceptible to emotion, but about structuring them so people can't use them for illicit ends.

  • sarcasmic||

    Ironic that a movement based in part on white-guilt (industrious white people destroying the planet! stealing it from the brown and red people who lived in harmony with nature! augh!) has caused the death of so many non-whites.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Harmony with nature generally involves non-willing participation in the not-so-good parts of the food chain. I'll take visits to nature to appreciate it, but indoor plumbing has its appeal.

  • ||

    Deltoid coming to lie about mosquito adopted immunity to DDT in 3...2....1...

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    If DDT were used in the same amounts as it was in decades past, mosquitoes probably would be immune now. Bedbugs had generally developed immunity before its use was discontinued. The problem wasn't the use of DDT, the problem was the non-targeted carpet-bombing practices involved, it was overuse.

  • ||

    Large swaths of the world eliminated malaria using DDT and yet no immunity developed.

    Furthermore if immunity was the reason why DDT was discontinued then why was it not followed up with other pesticides in areas where malaria was prevalent? And why was its use totally eliminated and not just discontinued in areas where immunity developed? Many pathogens can and do develop immunity to penicillin yet we still use it. We are only more cautious in its use and have developed other antibiotics to combat the immunity.

    Deltoid's past claims hold no water. DDT was prohibited for alarmist views "protecting the environment". The result being that millions of people have died.

  • Loki||

    "It's not polite to talk about brown and black people dying because rich white people in America feel better about themselves when the brown and black people don't get to use DDT," says the University of Alabama's Andrew Morriss.

    Burn...

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    I've always thought we should have a DDT jubilee. Just make DDT legal once every 7 years for one year. That way once every seven years we can beat the crap out the mosquito and bed bug and kill bee population, but maybe 6/7 of the time is enough to not screw up hawk eggs or whatever.

  • ||

    We can have the Red Hour for bugs.

  • ||

    Or just you know only use it in areas where malaria is prevalent and only put it on bedding, nets and walls.

    It is pretty easy to target use a pesticide effectively while minimizing the impacts on the environment.

    Of course doing so would purge environmentalism of its quasi-religious fanaticism and prevent its assent to power.

  • Truther||

    If you want to know more about why DDT was really banned, read this book, Excellent Powder DDTs Political and Scientific History
    http://www.theexcellentpowder.org/

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