Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, March 11, 2005

More Evidence about DDT

The World Health Organization estimates that more than a million people die each year from malaria. But many believe this estimate is too low.

At least 500 million cases of malaria occur each year - nearly 50% more than estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), health experts say.

BrianF, who sent this link, points out:
Malaria was well on its way to being brought under control until the environmentalists decided DDT had to be banned, not only in developed countries but also in underdeveloped ones. That brought malaria deaths back up rapidly. DDT was what made the southern part of Italy inhabitable: look at the malaria death figures in countries like Sri Lanka and South Africa (which revolted against environmental correctness and brought DDT back) in the with- and without-DDT eras.
Remind me again why it was that countries stopped using DDT. Was it because the eggs of bald eagles developed thin shells and didn't hatch? What were the total costs of using DDT? How did those costs compare with the benefits of controlling malaria, especially in developing countries? What is the value of a human life in a developing country?

The point I want to make here isn't that it was wrong to ban DDT back in the late 1960s. Maybe it was wrong, but based on the available evidence, banning DDT then might have been a good idea. By the same token, though, now that more evidence is available, it is time to reconsider the ban.
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