Now operating out of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), [Roger]Bate’s signature coup to date has been to spread the myth that environmentalists, by preventing the use of the pesticide DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) to kill mosquitoes in developing countries, have heartlessly caused millions of malaria deaths worldwide. It needs to be said at the outset that this argument is untrue. While some groups have pressed hard to find alternatives, there is little evidence that a concerted effort to abolish anti-malaria DDT spraying ever occurred. Of the few environmental organizations that even pay attention to pesticide use overseas, the ones with any clout all support a clause in the Stockholm Convention that allows DDT use for public health reasons.
The latter is of particular importance in Bate’s case. His most visible contribution to his chosen cause has been to use the unlikely twin forces of malaria and DDT – both absent from the United States for decades, but facts of life in much of the developing world – to pit potential allies in regulatory efforts, especially environmentalists and public health advocates, against each other in an effort to draw their fire away from regulated industries, including tobacco. In a funding proposal to Philip Morris laying out his vision of a so-called Malaria Strategy, Bate wrote circa 1998 that the “opponents” of tobacco “are quite disparate, yet we have not divided them and shown each how the other’s agenda is damaging their own.” To be more successful, the document said, “we need to . . . [p]ick issues on which we can divide our opponents and win. Make our case on our terms, not on the terms of our opponents – malaria prevention is a good example. Show our opponents where their alleged allies are harming their cause[.]”
The proposal laid out a comprehensive plan, including the formation of a front group to push the idea that Western experts and activists were focusing on the wrong issue. The central argument of the Malaria Strategy, he wrote, would be that “environmental regulations often harm public health in the West and Western policies often harm health in Less Developed Countries.” In other words, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other regulatory bodies shouldn’t even have time to think about regulating American and British tobacco, because the scourge of malaria demanded more immediate attention. Thus emerged Bate’s thesis, which he continues to promote as a proxy for his deeper anti-regulatory agenda: That out-of-touch bureaucrats and misguided environmentalists are ignoring malaria sufferers, either because of incompetence or spoiled-rich fears about comparatively harmless risks like second-hand smoking, and are therefore not to be trusted.
As mentioned in his wiki entry, one of the guys that did heavy labor digging into Bate's past is climate blogger Eli Rabbett. To learn more, I would suggest visiting his site and running "Roger Bate" through the blog search function. For instance, we know due to Eli that Bate was raking in about $18,000 per month for his work.
Almost as weird a story as that of Martin Durkin, the guy behind "The Great Global Warming Swindle", which perhaps I shall attempt to tell at a later date.