Lomborg on the mythical DDT ban
One of the great themes (or maybe memes) of rightwing delusionism in recent years has been the alleged ban on the antimalarial use of DDT, supposed to have cost millions (or, on some accounts, billions) of lives. It’s not hard to prove that this ban is totally mythical and that the failure of DDT to eradicate malaria, evident well before the 1972 ban on agricultural use in the US, was primarily due to resistance and cost factors. It’s also possible to trace the myth to its roots in rightwing fringe movements like the LaRouchites and the John Birch Society, and document its popularisation by tobacco lobbyists like Roger Bate and Steve Milloy, who used it to attack WHO. (Search on DDT here or over at Tim Lambert’s site for the details) But it’s harder to tell when this fringe conspiracy theory became part of rightwing orthodoxy.
This 2001 debate between Bjorn Lomborg and Tom Burke in Prospect is unfortunately paywalled, but you can read much of the text here. The money quote from Lomborg
DDT has helped wipe out endemic malaria in both Europe and north America, and its cheap protection still works wonders for third world malaria
It’s unsurprising that Lomborg takes a favorable view of DDT. What’s notable here is that, as of 2001, he hadn’t got the memo about evil environmentalists banning it. On the other hand, as this old post of mine shows, the myth had made it into more general rightwing circulation by 2003, and it was taken as incontestable truth by most rightwingers a year or two later.