Another pointer from Instapundit gives us an article debunking the threat of the new "super-pneumonia". That's fine... to tell the truth, I wasn't scared at all anyway. When the news reports an emergency, a crisis, or a disaster I just divide whatever danger they relate by 100 and take a nap.
I am reminded by the article of a real, and ongoing, health crisis: malaria. Sure, as an American it's not much of a threat to me, but malaria afflicts up to 500 million people per year, and kills more than 3 million people per year. It's not as glamorous as ebola (kills dozens per year, maybe), or the new super-pneumonia (which has killed around 200), but malaria is a real and present danger to millions of people in undeveloped parts of the world. Malaria is spread by mosquitoes... isn't there something we can do to eliminate it?
Good question. In 1955, the Eighth World Health Assembly adopted a Global Malaria Eradication Campaign, and by 1967 malaria had been eradicated from every developed country where the disease was endemic, and from large tropical areas of Asia and Latin America. The program was also used successfully in three countries in tropical Africa. How did it work?
"To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT... In little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths, due to malaria, that otherwise would have been inevitable."
[National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Research in the Life Sciences of the Committee on Science and Public Policy. 1970. ...]
There are a lot of "reasons" that DDT use has been largely abandoned, but the vast majority of them are based on flawed science and the politics of the environmentalist movement. DDT was linked to everything from cancer, to shell-thickness among bald eagle eggs, but none of these claims are really substantiated or even supported by actual science. DDT can be dangerous when it is used improperly, as can all chemicals, but it can also be an incredibly powerful tool when used safely.
The history of DDT is just one example of how the environmental movement leads directly to human death on a massive scale. Of course, that may be part of the point.
Population control advocates blamed DDT for increasing third world population. In the 1960s, World Health Organization authorities believed there was no alternative to the overpopulation problem but to assure than up to 40 percent of the children in poor nations would die of malaria. As an official of the Agency for International Development stated, "Rather dead than alive and riotously reproducing."
[Desowitz, RS. 1992. Malaria Capers, W.W. Norton & Company]