Who is the worst killer in the long, ugly history of war and extermination? Hitler? Stalin? Pol Pot? Not even close. A single book called Silent Spring killed far more people than all those fiends put together.
Published in 1962, Silent Spring used manipulated data and wildly exaggerated claims (sound familiar?) to push for a worldwide ban on the pesticide known as DDT – which is, to this day, the most effective weapon against malarial mosquitoes. The Environmental Protection Agency held extensive hearings after the uproar produced by this book… and these hearings concluded that DDT should not be banned. A few months after the hearings ended, EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus over-ruled his own agency and banned DDT anyway, in what he later admitted was a “political” decision. Threats to withhold American foreign aid swiftly spread the ban across the world.
The resulting explosion of mosquito-borne malaria in Africa has claimed over sixty million lives. This was not a gradual process – a surge of infection and death happened almost immediately. The use of DDT reduces the spread of mosquito-borne malaria by fifty to eighty percent, so its discontinuation quickly produced an explosion of crippling and fatal illness. The same environmental movement which has been falsifying data, suppressing dissent, and reading tea leaves to support the global-warming fraud has studiously ignored this blood-drenched “hockey stick” for decades.
The motivation behind Silent Spring, the suppression of nuclear power, the global-warming scam, and other outbreaks of environmentalist lunacy is the worship of centralized power and authority. The author, Rachel Carson, didn’t set out to kill sixty million people – she was a fanatical believer in the newly formed religion of radical environmentalism, whose body count comes from callousness, rather than blood thirst. The core belief of the environmental religion is the fundamentaluncleanliness of human beings. All forms of human activity are bad for the environment… most especially including the activity of large private corporations. Deaths in faraway Africa barely registered on the radar screen of the growing Green movement, especially when measured against the exhilarating triumph of getting a sinful pesticide banned, at substantial cost to an evil corporation.
Those who were initiated into the higher mysteries of environmentalism saw the reduction of the human population as a benefit, although they’re generally more circumspect about saying so in public these days. As quoted by Walter Williams, the founder of the Malthusian Club of Rome, Alexander King, wrote in 1990: “My own doubts came when DDT was introduced. In Guayana, within two years, it had almost eliminated malaria. So my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the population problem.” Another charming quote comes from Dr. Charles Wurster, a leading opponent of DDT, who said of malaria deaths: “People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this is as good a way as any.”
Like the high priests of global warming, Rachel Carson knew what she was doing. She claimed DDT would actually destroy all life on Earth if its use continued – the “silent spring” of the title is a literal description of the epocalypse she forecast. She misused a quote from Albert Schweitzer about atomic warfare, implying the late doctor agreed with her crusade against pesticide by dedicating her book to him… when, in fact, Schweitzer viewed DDT as a “ray of hope” against disease-carrying insects. Some of the scientists attempting to debunk her hysteria went so far as to eat chunks of DDT to prove it was harmless, but she and her allies simply ignored them, making these skeptics the forerunners of today’s “global warming deniers” – absolutely correct and utterly vilified. William Ruckleshaus disregarded nine thousand pages of testimony when he imposed the DDT ban. Then as now, the science was settled… beneath a mass of politics and ideology.
Another way Silent Spring forecast the global-warming fraud was its insistence that readers ignore the simple evidence of reality around them. One of the founding myths of modern environmentalism was Carson’s assertion that bird eggs developed abnormally thin shells due to DDT exposure, leading the chicks to be crushed before they could hatch. As detailed in this American Spectator piece from 2005, no honest experimental attempt to produce this phenomenon has ever succeeded – even when using concentrations of DDT a hundred times greater than anything that could be encountered in nature. Carson claimed thin egg shells were bringing the robin and bald eagle to the edge of extinction… even as the bald eagle population doubled, and robins filled the trees. Today, those eagles and robins shiver in a blanket of snow caused by global warming.
The DDT ban isn’t the only example of environmental extremism coming with a stack of body bags. Mandatory gas mileage standards cause about 2,000 deaths per year, by compelling automakers to produce lighter, more fragile cars. The biofuel mania has led resources to be shifted away from growing food crops, resulting in higher food prices and starvation. Worst of all, the economic damage inflicted by the environmentalist religion directly correlates to life-threatening reductions in the human standard of living. The recent earthquake in Haiti is only the latest reminder thatpoverty kills, and collectivist politics are the most formidable engine of poverty on Earth.
Environmental extremism is a breathless handmaiden for collectivism. It pours a layer of smooth, creamy science over a relentless hunger for power. Since the boogeymen of the Green movement threaten the very Earth itself with imminent destruction, the environmentalist feels morally justified in suspending democracy and seizing the liberty of others. Of course we can’t put these matters to a vote! The dimwitted hicks in flyover country can’t understand advanced biochemistry or climate science. They might vote the wrong way, and we can’t risk the consequences! The phantom menaces of the Green movement can only be battled by a mighty central State. Talk of representation, property rights, and even free speech is madness when such a threat towers above the fragile ecosphere, wheezing pollutants and coughing out a stream of dead birds and drowned polar bears. You can see why the advocates of Big Government would eagerly race across a field of sustainable, organic grass to sweep environmentalists into their arms, and spin them around in the ozone-screened sunlight.
Green philosophy provides vital nourishment for the intellectual vanity of leftists, who get to pat themselves on the back for saving the world through the control-freak statism they longed to impose anyway. One of the reasons for the slow demise of the climate-change nonsense is that it takes a long time to let so much air out of so many egos. Calling “deniers” stupid and unpatriotic was very fulfilling. Likewise, you’ll find modern college campuses teeming with students – and teachers – who will fiercely insist that DDT thins egg shells and causes cancer. Environmentalism is a primitive religion which thrives by telling its faithful they’re too sophisticated for mere common sense.
The legacy of Silent Spring provides an object lesson in the importance of bringing the global-warming con artists to trial. No one was ever forced to answer for the misery inflicted by that book, or the damage it dealt to serious science. Today Rachel Carson is still celebrated as a hero, the secular saint who transformed superstition and hysteria into a Gospel for the modern god-state. The tactics she deployed against DDT resurfaced a decade later, in the Alar scare. It’s a strategy that offers great reward, and very little risk. We need to increase the risk factor, and frighten the next generation of junk scientists into being more careful with their research. If we don’t, the Church of Global Warming will just reappear in a few years, wearing new vestments and singing new hymms… but still offering the same communion of poverty, tyranny, and death.