A few decades ago, the curse of malaria, which for centuries had made large parts of the world uninhabitable and killed millions, had been largely eradicated because of the pesticide DDT. However, as many will know, this chemical was banned after a long campaign by environmentalists, concerned that the substance worked its way through the entire food chain, possibly causing cancers and other ailments. The writer Rachel Carson, in her famous, or perhaps infamous, book Silent Spring, helped focus Greens’ righteous anger on DDT.
The outcome may have been splendid for the mozzies, and possbily may also have had beneficial consequences for various species of flora and fauna. However, its impact on those awkward beings known as humans has been drastic. Millions are now dying at a high rate as malaria stages a virulent comeback.
I like to be a charitable chap and imagine that a lot of environmentalists feel worried about this, but I suspect that a good deal of do-gooders who had argued for the abolition of DDT feel not a nano-second’s qualm about the impact of what has happened.
Malaria is not a subject that may get pop singers like U2’s Bono all excited, as is the case with AIDS, but the death toll is huge, and it is growing.