Walter E. Williams: DDT saves millions of lives, and ban is immoral

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  • Ed Darrell Dallas, Texas
    May 9, 2011 8:57 a.m.

    DDT saved 500 million kids' lives?

    Dr. Williams should check his math.

    At the peak of DDT use, in 1959 and 1960, about 4 million people died from malaria every year. If we assume that, without DDT, the death toll was about a million higher (which would be pretty accurate according to WHO estimates), and if we assume that DDT saved a million lives in its first years of use against malaria, in 1946, and that life saving continued until 1960, we would have 14 million lives saved by 1960.

    How does he get another 486 million people since 1960?

    Since 1960, annual malaria deaths have declined, almost in lock-step with the reduction of DDT use. Today, fewer than 900,000 people a year die from malaria.

    Williams' figures, 500 million dead, assume DDT has been used for over 125 years, at record high death figures unknown in human history. It's a good thing Williams doesn't need math in his line of work!