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Google Honored A Known Environmentalist, And Twitchy Will Not Shut Up About It
Google has really angered the Wingnuttospere this week. First off, on Monday, the search engine failed to put up a special doodle for Memorial Day, because Google Hates America -- actually, the page did mark the day with an American flag and yellow ribbon icon, but they were too small and didn't go up at midnight like they should have, but later in the day.* Then Tuesday, Google drew the wrath of all nine fulltime staffers of Twitchy by honoring Rachel Carson on what would have been her 107th birthday. This tribute to a known environmentalist sparked a Twitch-Fit, because of course by writing Silent Spring, a book that eventually led to the banning of DDT, Rachel Carson personally murdered millions:
The nine enraged howler monkeys of Twitchy pointed out that Google was pretty much honoring the Josef Mengele of environmentalism:
Today would have been marine biologist and “Silent Spring" author Rachel Carson's 107th birthday. Unfortunately, thanks to Carson's radical environmentalism, millions of children were robbed of the chance to celebrate a fraction of that many birthdays.
Did we say Mengele? Nah, much worse! If it hadn't been for Silent Spring, no one ever would have had a problem with DDT, and we'd have eradicated malaria, maybe, and there never would have been an environmental movement or an Earth Day, and there'd be no EPA and everyone would be RICH. This is quite literally the most concern for African children you'll ever see on Twitchy.
The Twitchers excerpt a 2012 Forbes article on Carson which said
But the fears she raised were based on gross misrepresentations and scholarship so atrocious that, if Carson were an academic, she would be guilty of egregious academic misconduct. Her observations about DDT have been condemned by many scientists. In the words of Professor Robert H. White-Stevens, an agriculturist and biology professor at Rutgers University, “If man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth." [...] The legacy of Rachel Carson is that tens of millions of human lives -- mostly children in poor, tropical countries -- have been traded for the possibility of slightly improved fertility in raptors. This remains one of the monumental human tragedies of the last century.
Now, we won't claim to be an expert scientist, but we've done a bit of the Googling (which shouldn't be trusted, we know), and we find ourselves persuaded by this 2002 piece by The Straight Dope guy, Cecil Adams, who says that, yes, Carson was right to condemn the way that DDT was used in the 1950s and '60s, which was to "[soak] the biota in DDT like it was bubble bath," but that her analysis was also flawed, largely because of "the fledgling state of environmental science at the time."
For a more sciencey discussion of the topic, we looked at Scientific American, which notes that DDT is a nasty, persistent poison, but that it is incredibly effective against mosquitoes, so as a last resort when other pesticides don't work, and where it can be applied without too much danger to the food chain, then yes, use DDT with caution. (As you might gather, we are skipping past a lot of details here, but that's why you've got links, right?).
Still, it's a lot easier to pretend that Rachel Carson singlehandedly banned DDT and murdered millions as a result, although the DDT ban went into effect in industrialized nations first, and the worldwide ban only came in 2004. Add to that the fact that mosquitoes develop resistance to DDT -- in many parts of India, which never adopted the ban, DDT is largely ineffective -- and the case for Rachel Carson as History's Greatest Monster gets even weaker. On the other hand, she is a convenient target for rage, since it's easy to pretend that if only she'd never written that terrible book, no one else would have noticed that we were choking the biosphere. Sure, there'd be a couple of inconveniences, like Bald Eagles going extinct, but who needs any living eagles when the painted ones weep so movingly?
*For Memorial Day 2013, Google offended wingnuts by putting up a doodle showing live veterans hugging their kids, which would be OK for Veterans Day, but "entirely miss[ed] the message of what is arguably America's most important national holiday," according to Ghost Breitbart's home for free-floating rage. The 2013 doodle would have been fine if only the veterans were dead.
Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter. All he hears is Radio Google.