If you're looking for another reason to hate that hippie friend of yours that won't shut up about the plight of every plant, animal and insect in danger of extinction, DDT is a good place to start.
Widely considered the first major victory of the environmentalist movement, DDT was banned from use in most applications thanks to a series of insanely half-assed scientific experiments and a book about birds. That book, Silent Spring, was released in 1962 and argued that DDT was not only a carcinogen, but also damaging to wildlife and, especially, certain birds. The public, upon hearing about the possibility of having to live in a world without peregrine falcons and ospreys, did what it does best in situations like this--they lost their shit without a second thought.
The single most important bird on the planet.
Soon, pesticides were the cause du jour for environmentalists and average folks that believe whatever the hell they read, and DDT was banned in 1972. The problem was, the science quoted in the book was all kinds of faulty. One scientific study that purported to show that DDT exposure led to a higher incidence of leukemia in mice was later proven to be more than a little tainted. Turns out, the mice in the experiment were fed moldy food that contained aflatoxin, a known carcinogen. When the test was repeated minus the rancid food, the test results were exactly the same, except without all of the leukemia and stuff.
As for the birds, Audubon Society studies showed that 26 different kinds of birds actually increased in population during DDT's heyday. In cases where bird populations did decline, it was revealed that in most cases the decline began either well before widespread use of DDT began or years after it was banned. Environmentalists dispute the findings, but on the other hand ... who gives a fuck about the damn birds? Especially considering ...
In 1972, DDT killed fewer people than ...
See, what many people don't know about DDT is that the person who discovered that it could be used as a pesticide actually won a Nobel Peace Prize. Why? Because it was kind of effective in fighting malaria. When spraying of DDT stopped in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka), malaria cases rose from 17 in 1963 to 2.5 goddamn million in 1969, an increase of approximately a bajillion fofillion percent. And to this day, the mosquito remains the deadliest killer Mother Nature has to offer, with a confirmed 2 million kills per year.
But, hey at least there's a lot more ospreys around.
If you liked that, you'll probably enjoy Adam's look at The Awful Truth Behind 5 Items Probably On Your Grocery List. Or, if you like laughing at gullible people, perhaps you'll enjoy watching poronography on Cracked.com!
More of Adam Brown's stuff can be seen at his site ScenicAnemia.com.