LESSONS LEARNED #57: “Environmental policy is a zero-sum policy; save the planet, kill man.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 17th, 2011

DDT gets rid of Mosquitoes and Malaria

No one thinks much about malaria in big American cities.  Because they’re modern, paved cities.  So there aren’t a lot of mosquitoes.  At least, not like there used to be.  In colonial times, summers were bad.  Anywhere there was standing water.  Thomas Jefferson hated to be anywhere near tidewater areas during the summer months.  Because people got malaria.  He thought it was the air.  It wasn’t.  It was the mosquitoes.  Unpaved areas in tidewater streams just bred mosquitoes wholesale. 

As our concrete cities grew these wetlands went away.  As did malaria.  In the United States.  Other nations, though, were not so fortunate.  Especially sub-Saharan Africa.  Where malaria kills hundreds of thousands of children each year.  Why?  Because much of sub-Saharan Africa is impoverished.  With no modern, paved cities.  And it’s a mosquito paradise.  For awhile, that is.  Because man stepped in and used chemistry.  Created a miracle synthetic pesticide.  DDT.  And went to war against mosquitoes.  Campaigned especially fiercely in the tropical countries that really favored mosquito breeding.  Armed with DDT, it was a lopsided war.  Areas that saw millions of people infected by malaria each year had less than a hundred people infected after the DDT campaign.  It was a huge success.  Chemistry saved the children.  It was so successful they also used it in agriculture.  Food yields improved with the resulting pest elimination.  The mosquito and other pests were on the run.  But then an unlikely ally saved them.  Rachel Carson.

Carson wrote Silent Spring.  Published in 1962, she saved malaria.  And started the environmental movement with her attack against chemistry.  It was hurting the environment.  DDT was thinning egg shells.  And some other nasty stuff.  And perhaps it was.  But there were two uses of DDT.  Heavy agricultural uses.  And the lighter anti-malaria uses.  Some of the things she cited may have been more on the agricultural side.  In any event, environmentalism was born.  DDT fell out of favor and nations banned it or discouraged its use.  And malaria returned in force, killing hundreds of thousands of kids each year.

Firebreaks stop the Spread of Wildfires

Smokey the Bear says only we can prevent forest fires.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  We can’t change the weather.  Oh, sure, we can change the climate by warming the earth with manmade greenhouse gases, but we can’t make it rain.  Or stop the lightning.  Put the two together (a long time without rain then a lightning storm) and it will start a forest fire/wildfire.  And there’s nothing we can do about it.  Well, there’s nothing we can do to prevent it from starting.  But we can limit the severity of the wildfire.  By cutting firebreaks in the forest.

Dried trees burn very well.  And dried brush makes excellent tinder.  As a forest burns, the trees burn and flick off embers.  The wind blows the embers downwind.  Where they land on dried brush (i.e., tinder).  A fire smolders.  Then takes hold.  Flames grow.  And jump to the trees.  Which flick off embers.  That blow downwind.  And so on.  This is how fires travel.  And sometimes you can’t stop them.  They get too big to try and douse with water.  So they burn.  And the only thing that will stop them is the lack of fuel.  And this is where a firebreak comes in handy.  If you cut firebreaks into the forest at strategic locations the fire will spread until it comes to one of these fire breaks.  The embers flicking off of trees will then fall harmlessly on the firebreak.  Where there is no fuel.  And the embers will burn out.  Without starting a new fire.  Depending on the strength of the winds and the width of the firebreak, you can stop a lot of fires.  As long as there isn’t a rat living in the area.

Fire struck Riverside County outside Los Angeles in 1993.  It was huge.  And hungry.  That fire advanced and ate everything in its path.  Trees.  Brush.  And houses.  Homeowners in Riverside Country wanted to plow in some fire breaks to protect their homes.  Unfortunately for them, they shared their habitat with the kangaroo rat.  Which was on the Endangered Species List.  And plowing in those firebreaks may have harmed those rats burrowed shallowly in the sandy soil where all that tinder was growing.  So they were forbidden to cut in those firebreaks.  To save the rat.  And the fire burned through their houses.  And kept on burning.

The Food Chain Turned Upside Down

The San Joaquin Valley in central California is one of the most fertile farmlands in the world.  The Westlands.  Some call it the food basket of the world because they grow so much stuff there.  The San Joaquin River is fed from the snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and drains into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  And it’s from this delta the government has helped the farmers pump water to irrigate their farmlands.  That is, until drought hit the area.  And a little fish.  A tiny smelt.

In the Delta there lived a fish.  This fish was on the Endangered Species List.  And this fish liked to hang around with man.  And the things man built.  Like water pumps.  With the prolonged drought, those irrigation pumps were pumping a lot of water.  And apparently killing a lot of smelt.  That were hanging around the pump inlets.  So a federal judge ruled in 2008 to shut off the irrigation pumps.  To save the fish.  And they did.

Without water farmers can’t farm.  So land went unused.  Farmers planted fewer tomatoes.  And fewer of their other crops.  Worse, some farmers had to destroy some of their healthy crops.  Such as almond trees that took 30 years to grow.  Without water they’d died.  And dead trees attract pests.  That can spread to healthy trees.  So it was either cut down some of their trees.  Or face pest infestation and lose all of their trees.  So food production in the fertile San Joaquin Valley dropped.  There was less food.  Which, of course, raised food prices.  All to save a small fish.

Diverting Corn from Dinner Tables to Gas Tanks 

Some say that we have to find an alternative to oil.  Because oil will run out one day.  Soon.  They’ve been saying this for decades.  And we haven’t run out yet.  But that’s beside the point.  The point is that they say it will run out because of our increasing demand for gasoline to drive our cars.  And that rising demand one day will exceed the oil supply.  One of their solutions?  BiofuelsEthanolFlex FuelE85.  Made from corn.  Our food.  And others.  For we feed a large part of the impoverished world with our surplus corn.

Back in the summer of 2008, gas hit $4/gallon.  That hurt.  The pain was so bad that it made people change behavior.  They bought smaller cars.  Hybrids.  And cars that ran on the ‘cheaper’ E85 (ethanol).  Which sold for something like fifty cents less than unleaded gas.  It seemed like quite the bargain.  Until you used it.  As those who had a significant commute to work soon learned.  One tank of gas let you commute to work for a whole week.  A tank of ethanol?  It didn’t take you quite as far.  People often learned this the hard way.  After having to stop in an unseemly part of town to refuel late night on the way home from work after hearing that ‘low fuel’ chime unexpectedly.  Those of us who did soon switched back to gasoline.  Why?  To prevent late night surprises like that again.  And because we just don’t like pumping gas.  Or, should I say, ‘fuel’.

You see, ethanol has less energy than gasoline.  So it takes more of it to go as far as gasoline takes you.  When you crunched the number you were actually paying more using the ethanol.  Because you were buying more of it.  Which brings us back to the interesting argument of why we have to replace oil.  Because our growing demand will eventually use it all up.  Now, let’s apply that logic to ethanol.  And the fact that it takes more ethanol to drive as far as with gasoline.  What does that tell you?  They will divert an enormous amount of our corn crop from dinner tables to gas tanks.  Making less food available for us.  And for export.  Which will do what?  That’s right.  Make some people go hungry.  And increase food prices.

Trading Humans for non-Humans

Advancements in environmental policy come at the expense of man.  Every time they protect an endangered species man has to yield ground.  When we fight global warming it is man who makes the ultimate sacrifice.  We have to lose some liberty.  Pay more for food.  Or eat less.  When they ban life-saving chemicals people die.  Hundreds of thousands of them.  Especially children in sub-Saharan Africa.  All in the name of saving the planet.

Environmentalists are okay with this.  For they must know about it.  And yet they pursue their agenda.  So they don’t mind the zero-sum game they play.  Trading humans for non-humans.  Because they favor the non-humans over the humans.  So when it comes to saving the planet or saving man, their choice is an easy one.  They save the planet.  And kill man.  For the human dead are acceptable collateral damage in their war to save the planet.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #42: “Romantics often don’t have a clue of what they romanticize about.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 30th, 2010

A Lady like Scarlet O’Hara no doubt Smelled of Ass and Armpit

Some people just don’t like modern times.  Like environmentalists.  Who say things were better before man industrialized everything.  Back before the big cities.  When things were quaint.  Like on that great plantation, Tara, in Gone with the Wind

Yes, things were simpler then.  And better.  There was no plastic.  Or glass and steel skyscrapers.  Or indoor plumbing.  If you had to poop during the night, you just squatted over a bowl.  That quaint, little chamber pot.  Which you either dumped out of your window.  Or left on the bureau until the following morning.

Of course, you didn’t shower every day back then.  Even the wealthy.  Even someone like Scarlet O’Hara.  Who no doubt smelled of ass and armpit.  But things were better back then.  Simpler.  And the environment was cleaner.

Once Upon a Time, Our streets were filled with Poop and Urine

Well, perhaps cleaner is not the word.  Let’s say more natural.  Back before polluting cars and that big-ass carbon footprint, the internal combustion engine, we used horses.  We rode them to get from here to there.  And we used them for work.  And there was no gasoline or polluting products of combustion.  Carbon monoxide.  A horse ate what grew naturally.  The way things should be.  And pooped and peed all over the place.

You ever go to a quaint touristy area with a historic part of town?  Where you can take a cozy moonlight ride in a horse-drawn carriage?  They try to be authentic.  But they throw in a few modern conveniences.  Like a poop bag under the horse’s butt.  To keep the street clean of horse poop.  And free of flies that are attracted to the horse poop. 

In the good old days, the streets were full of horses.  Horse poop.  Horse urine.  And flies.  A lady in here finest Sunday-go-to-meeting dress dragged her dress through those streets.  And the filth in them.  And if she walked on the sidewalks she probably dragged that dress through human poop and urine.  From all those chamber pots poured out from the windows above.  And the flies were everywhere.

To Protect Children in Africa from DDT, We let them Die from Malaria

Then man had to come along and ruin everything.  They took a plow to paradise and built cities.  They paved the streets.  After installing storm drains first.  Little creeks and wetlands disappeared.  As did malaria.

Say what you will about the cities, but a concrete jungle does not breed mosquitoes.  You know what does?  Jungles.  Swamps.  Wetlands.  And you know what mosquitoes breed?  Malaria.  But thanks to America’s concrete jungles (a.k.a., the big cities), we don’t have a malaria problem.

You know who does?  Africa.  Big time.  Because they’re still very much that pristine paradise the environmentalists pine for.  And a mosquito breeding ground.  There’s wholesale dying there because of these little buggers.  And what are we doing about it?  We’re sending them mosquito netting to sleep under.

There was a time, though, when we held the mosquitoes at bay in Africa.  We saved lives with DDT.  By killing mosquitoes wholesale.  But Rachel Carson wrote a book called Silent Spring.  And it did to DDT what the movie The China Syndrome did to nuclear power.  Some countries still use it (India, China and North Korea, for example).  But kids continue to die in Africa from malaria because of the ban of that nasty chemical DDT.

Plastic, Chemicals, Internal Combustion Engines, Glass and Steel save Lives

But there are still some of us that want to get away from it all.  Who eschew this modern world.  They want to get back to a simpler time.  And some do.  In retirement.  Move out to the country.  Away from the big noisy cities.  And away from those big city hospitals.

Not my dad, though.  Good for him, too.  For he had a couple of heart of attacks.  The paramedics were at the house in about 7 minutes.  They had him in the hospital emergency room about 20 minutes later.  They saved his life.  Twice.  With all those things of the modern world.  Plastic.  Chemicals.  The internal combustion engine.  And a glass and steel building in a concrete jungle.

George Washington lived in that environmental paradise some pine for.  He died in 1799.  From what started out as a sore throat.  Washington was the Father of our Country.  The truly indispensible one.  The most powerful man in America.  He could have been king.  It was there for the taking.  He was that loved.  But that didn’t matter in 1799.  In that quaint time, a sore throat could kill.

The Miserable Enjoy Smelling Ass and Armpit?

In our modern world, we use daily showers, deodorant, perfume, cologne and even bidets.  It has become a pleasant smelling world.  And anyone who has sat on a 14-hour flight in coach can really appreciate how nice that is.

I like my concrete jungle.  It’s nice to know that falling asleep with a body part outside a mosquito net won’t kill me.  And if I get sick, it’s comforting to know that I can receive emergency medical treatment within 7 minutes. 

I don’t think those who want to turn the hands of time back fully understand how disgusting and dangerous those times really were.  Or they’re just miserable and hate life.  And they can only find comfort in making everyone as miserable as they are.  Either that or they just enjoy smelling ass and armpit.

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