Friday, June 05, 2009

Think Tanker Supremo, Or: Who The Heck Is Roger Bate?

Ever heard that old story: banning DDT resulted in the deaths of millions of children in the developing world, and therefore enviros in general and Rachel Carson in particular have blood on their hands? Its out there, and I think its managed to con a few otherwise non-stupid people, notably James Lovelock (of Gaia hypothesis fame). Well, it is, quite literally, the creation of one man, a roving think-tanker for hire named Roger Bate. Linked below is one of the very few stories I've read about him in the MSM or at least "off-blog" media about why he did it. The short answer: it was a feint designed to block attempts by WHO (World Health Organization) to curb smoking in 3rd world countries!

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.


letterhead said...

David Warren, Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 10, 2007

"Thanks to the vogue enjoyed, in 1962, by Rachel Carson’s pioneering environmental tract, Silent Spring, there was huge public pressure to ban DDT. Not just in America, where more expensive and less efficient substitutes were available, but all over the world. Foreign aid agencies stipulated that DDT was never to be used near aid-assisted projects.

The claims made in Carson’s book proved laughably false -- though few people today realize this...The fallout from DDT getting into groundwater and streams was not significant; was utterly insignificant in comparison to the good it was achieving in eliminating insect pests…

…Much of that book may even have been knowingly false. Not that Carson herself would have intended any evil: for she was sincerely convinced DDT was the secular equivalent of 'the work of the devil'. Her faith in that idea could therefore justify any 'pious fraud'… in a sense one could say that, 'Rachel Carson killed millions.'

Over the years after, quite literally, tens of millions of people died, all over the underdeveloped world, from epidemics that could easily have been prevented by DDT spraying...

…We are in the earlier stages today of a worldwide population crash, that was largely triggered by environmentalist fears about 'overpopulation'…

… it is important to remember just how much carnage the movement has already wreaked. Far more than the most fanatical Muslim ever dreamed.

As for tobacco,

David Warren, Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 28, 2007:

"In the past I have flagged UN statistics showing that life expectancy was nicely proportional to tobacco consumption, internationally -- so that, for example, Japan and South Korea were respectively first and second in both life expectancy and tobacco consumption. The lowest tobacco consumption was in Third World countries, where we also found some of the shortest life expectancies…

…I think we could also find historical statistics showing there is a reliable, worldwide relationship between rising tobacco consumption, and rising life expectancy, nation by nation, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries…

… It is that the kind of quack 'science' that was used to ban smoking has now mutated into the kind that is used to flog global warming. It should have been resisted then; it should certainly be resisted now".

bigcitylib said...

Almost all of that is from Bate (who of course also is an AGW denier). Weird eh? But his methods are fairly common. Set the bullshit valves to 10 and leave them there, don't retract unless someone threatens to sue, and then maybe don't retract anyone because alot of the people you are misquoting are African and probably don't have the money to follow through.

Ti-Guy said...

I read that entire article. And now I'm giving myself little cuts on my legs.

Margaret Wente transmitted that DDT lie last year as well, I believe. These people pass on ethical depravity to each other like syphilis. Or they're simply too credulous to be allowed out of the house.