Advocacy research, incentives and the practice of science

Climate Etc.

by Judith Curry

There is a problem with the practice of science. Because of poor scientific practices, and improper incentives, few papers with useful scientific findings are published in leading journals. The problem appears to be growing due to funding for advocacy research.

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AGW Claims vs. Truth – Claim 10: World governments must take drastic action now to prevent catastrophic consequences.

Claim 10:  World governments must take drastic action now to prevent further warming and catastrophic consequences.

Truth:  The jury is still out as to whether warming is a good thing or a bad thing. More people die from cold weather-related events than from heat. Warming periods in the past such as the Medieval Warm Period were times of increased prosperity and peace. There is no indication that any sort of a tipping point is approaching that would cause the predicted catastrophic consequences. There has been no warming since 1998 and a possible cooling since 2005.

         It is not even certain that government action could have any effect on warming. If carbon dioxide is not the main cause of warming, then regulating it might be a fool’s errand. (See Claim 2.) Developed nations might curtail use of fossil fuels, but treaties proposed like Kyoto and Rio exempt developing countries. This includes China, India, and Mexico, among the largest and most industrialized developing countries in the world. Their output of carbon dioxide and pollutants from power plants and industry more than overpowers any gains from developed countries’ gains in efficiency or a change to “renewable” and “sustainable” solar and wind energy.

       Additionally, the money collected by the UN through these treaties is designated only for such unreliable energy development, not for improving the lives of impoverished peoples.  Improving the lives of these people would go much farther to protect the environment than any of these things. (Meanwhile, the development of over 200 hydroelectric dams in Africa have been prevented by activists within and outside the UN.)  People who have to worry about eating and feeding their families have no incentive to care for the environment.  Higher standards of living lead to more caring for the environment.

Global coal consumption


Bring back DDT – Save Africa and other impoverished areas

Bring back DDT – Save Africa and other impoverished areasmosquite-feeding

Over 80% of infectious diseases are caused by insects and other arthropods. DDT is desperately needed in impoverished countries where insect borne diseases kill and sicken millions every year, cutting lifespans and productivity.  Africa, India and South-Central Americas are most affected. This unpardonable crime amounts to continuing genocide of brown races by western powers.

Without these insect borne diseases, populations may increase at first, but better health will facilitate the building of infrastructure and industry that can raise millions out of poverty, ignorance and hopelessness.

“How much labor and waste of time these wicked insects do cause, but a ray of hope, in the use of DDT, is now held out to us.”            — Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography, Dr. Albert Schweitzer (translated from Ma Vie et Ma Pensee)

DDT worked so well that malaria and similar diseases were eradicated in most developed countries and were near eradication in poorer countries before DDT was banned in 1972 by EPA in spite of failure to find any harm to humans or the environment by an overwhelming body of research.

“To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. It has contributed to the great increase in agricultural productivity, while sparing countless humanity from a host of diseases, most notably, perhaps, scrub typhus and malaria. Indeed, it is estimated that, in little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million deaths due to malaria that would otherwise have been inevitable. Abandonment of this valuable insecticide should be undertaken only at such time and in such places as it is evident that the prospective gain to humanity exceeds the consequent losses. At this writing, all available substitutes for DDT are both more expensive per crop-year and decidedly more hazardous.”

— National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Research in the Life Sciences of the Committee on Science and Public Policy, The Life Sciences: Recent Progress and Application to Human Affairs, The World of Biological Research, Requirements for the Future (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1970), 432.                             (Emphasis added)

Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, Silent Spring, was filled with lies, half-truths, misinterpretation of research results and wild speculations.  Rather than being an attempt to protect humans and the environment as stated, it was really part of an effort to stop population increases in Africa, India and other impoverished countries.

“My own doubts came when DDT was introduced for civilian use. In Guyana, within two years it had almost eliminated malaria, but at the same time the birth rate had doubled. So my chief quarrel with DDT in hindsight is that it has greatly added to the population problem.”

                          —Alexander King, cofounder of the Club of Rome, 1990

Population Bomb by Paul Erilich (1968) was a another book based on Malthusian, eugenicist, racist lies, aka propaganda.

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…”                              — Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, 1968

Population control groups such as the Club of Rome, supported by charitable foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, continue to spread the myth of overpopulation.  Many rural areas have too few healthy people to build roads, other infrastructure and industry.

In 1972 DDT was banned by US EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence presented at hearings that refuted claims of harm by activist groups such as Environmental Defense Fund and Audubon Society.

“DDT is not a carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic hazard to man. The uses under regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on fresh water fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds, or other wildlife…and…there is a present need for essential uses of DDT.”                — EPA Administrative Law Judge Edmund Sweeney, after months of hearings, “In the Matter of Stevens Industries, Inc., et al., L.F. & R. Docket Nos. 63, et al.). Hearing Examiner’s Recommended Findings, Conclusions, and Orders, April 1972.” (40 CFR 164.32). (Consolidated DDT Hearings)  As summarized in Barrons, May 1, 1972

Beginning the 1970’s, US AID, UN WHO, UNESCO and the World Bank have pressured leaders of poor countries to discontinue DDT as a prerequisite to receiving essential aid. This continues to the present with exception of recently allowing limited spraying of interior wall in selected areas.

Although DDT is the most studied pesticide on the planet, it is still listed as an environmental toxin and possible carcinogen because the EPA listing has not changed, in spite of all of the studies that failed to find harmful effects on humans or the environment. It is much safer and more economical than any of the proposed replacements.

Verifying the Claims of Silent Spring

None of Rachel Carson’s “facts” about environmental and human harm were true. Most of the facts below, except where noted, are from “DDT: A Study in Scientific Fraud,” by J. Gordon Edwards, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 9 Number 3 Fall 2004. (See link below)

Dr. Edwards examined each of Silent Spring’s claims and found them wrong and possibly fraudulent.

Not one person has been harmed or died from DDT.

  • The only death associated with DDT was a 3 yr. old child that drank a solution of DDT in kerosene, which is a hydrocarbon known to be toxic.
  • J. Gordon Edwards was a Ph.D. entomologist who sometimes ate a spoonful of DDT powder at his lectures as a demonstration of its safety. He suffered no significant ill effects and died of a heart attack at age 84 while hiking in the Rockies.

DDT is not carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic

  • “Workers in the Montrose Chemical Company had 1,300 man-years of exposure, and there was never any case of cancer during 19 years of continuous exposure to about 17mg/man/day.”
  • “Concerns were sometimes raised about possible carcinogenic effects of DDT, but instead its metabolites were often found to be anti-carcinogenic, significantly reducing tumors in rats.”
  • Expected rise in leukemia in children and breast cancer years later in girls exposed during puberty never happened.

Bird deaths, thin egg shells and buildup in the environment have proven to be false.

  • Bird deaths at the University of Michigan, cited by Carson, were not from DDT, but were probably from soil fungicide containing mercury. In later tests, mercury was found in the soil and earthworms there. Other areas did not experience bird deaths from spraying of DDT. Carson’s Source was: Bird Mortality in the Dutch elm disease program in Michigan, Bulletin 41, Cranebrook Institute of Science by George John Wallace; Walter P Nickell; Richard F Bernard
  • According to Audubon Society Annual Christmas Bird Counts, bird populations actually increased during the thirty years of DDT use. Numbers rose from 90 birds seen per observer in 1941 to 971 birds seen per observer in 1960.
  • The eggshell thinning studies cited by Carson could not be replicated and had actually reduced dietary calcium, needed to build egg shells, of experimental birds to get that result.
  • Museum specimens compared to wild population eggs may have led to false claims of thinning because the museums used the best specimens available; natural variability in the wild may have been interpreted as thinning. “the whole idea that pesticides are concentrated as one moves up the food chain, which is crucial to Carson’s arguments about distant and delayed effects, has become increasingly dubious in the years that followed” (Fleming, New Conservation Movement, 31). Source: Reading Rachel Carson by Charles T. Rubin
  • DDT is not metabolized by birds and is rapidly excreted in their droppings.
  • “The counts of raptorial birds migrating over Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania, indicated that there were many more hawks there during the “DDT years” than previously. The numbers counted there increased from 9,291 in 1946 (before much DDT was used) to 13,616 in 1963 and 29,765 in 1968, after 15 years of heavy DDT use.”

Aquatic life has not been harmed by DDT; it is practically insoluble in water, with only 1.2 parts per billion at saturation.

  • A study cited by Carson claimed 500 ppb DDT in seawater inhibited photosynthesis and killed algae. The problem with this study is that alcohol was added to the tank to dissolve the DDT in the water. Alcohol alone would do that.
  • The assumption of persistence of DDT in seawater for decades was also challenged. Tests showed DDT and its metabolites disappeared in as few as 38 days.


See “DDT: A Study in Scientific Fraud,” by J. Gordon Edwards, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 9 Number 3 Fall 2004. On the web at:

See also “The Truth about DDT and Silent Spring” by Robert Zubrin, adapted from Robert Zubrin’s Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, published in 2012, in New Atlantis Books series. On the web at:

The Truth about Zika Virus and Microcephaly

Facts about Zika virus and Microcephaly.microcephaly

Is there a cause and effect link or merely a correlation of unrelated events? Here is the story and the facts so far.  In October 2015 an increase in microcephaly was reported in Brazil. A Brazilian doctor, Adriana Melo, at IPESQ, a research insti­tute in Campina Grande, was the first to report a firm link between Zika and microcephaly. Several months before, there had been an outbreak of Zika virus throughout Brazil. The increase in microcephaly cases occurred only in a coastal state in the northeast of the country.

90% of the 1709 cases of microcephaly and birth defects were concentrated in this limited area. Of this number 1153 were diagnosed as microcephaly. There was no increase in other parts of the country, including an adjoining coastal state with a similar population, which only had 3 cases. This suggests there may be other contributing factors. Socio-economic factors may contribute since most of the mothers of the microcephalic babies were young, single, black and poor, living in small cities near larger cities. Additionally, this same northeastern region has always had the highest incidence of microcephaly in Brazil.

A study by the Latin American Collaborative Study of Congenital Malformations (ECLAMC) called for more controlled studies, and concluded that the data so far is inconclusive of a cause and effect link between Zika infection in the first trimester of pregnancy and microcephaly and similar nervous system defects. For an English translation of the original Portugese summary of the ECLAMC studies, see!/file/NS-724-2015_ECLAMC-ZIKA%20VIRUS_V-FINAL_012516.pdf

This report discusses weaknesses in the methods used by IPESQ, recommendations for further studies and several other factors that may have caused or contributed to the birth defects as listed below.

  • Rumor may have caused over reporting due to active searches and over diagnosis. Brazil health authorities estimate that as many as 2/3 of cases are normally not reported to authorities. If the estimate is correct, this would partially account for an increase, but not the degree reported, so other factors must be involved. However, Brazil reports a rate of 0.5 per 10,000 births compared to EUROCAT of 2.85 per 10,000 births, indicating a gross under reporting.
  • Broadened criteria for microcephaly diagnosis from 3 standard deviations to 2 standard deviations below normal average age and sex adjusted head circumference, and no confirming follow up brain scans or autopsies in most cases.
  • Zika infection in the first trimester of pregnancy cannot be confirmed at the time of birth because the virus is short-lived in the body and will not be present in the mother. Unless the mother was diagnosed early in her pregnancy, occurrence and connection cannot be confirmed.
  • In the original studies other known causes were not ruled out such as STORCH (syphilis, toxoplasmosis, “other,” rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex), prematurity, diabetes of the mother and fetal alcohol syndrome, a major cause of microcephaly in Brazil.
  • Also not ruled out are possible co-infections with dengue or chikungunya, both present in the population in recent outbreaks. The dengue virus is similar to the Zika virus and difficult to differentiate in tests.
  • A low rate of yellow fever vaccination also seems to correlate to this incident. Yellow fever virus is similar to Zika virus and vaccination may offer some immunity to it.
  • At IPESQ Bovine diarrheal virus (BVDV) was found in brain tissue of 3 fetuses in a later study. This virus does not usually infect humans but is known to cause birth defects in cattle. If true, this may be significant, but Dr. Adriana Melo suspects it may be a contaminant in the sampling or testing procedures.
  • Contaminated water was not considered, although it is common for small cities without proper sanitation and water purification to have biologically contaminated water.
  • Nutrition was not considered in this study other than a mention of general socio-economic influences, although the CDC, NIH and other agencies recognize folic acid (a B vitamin) deficiency as one of the leading causes of neural tube defects (NTD), including microcephaly, anencephaly, and spina bifida. In a recent NIH study they found that other micronutrients may decrease the risk of NTD occurrence, including thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), betaine (a B vitamin), vitamin A, retinol (A1), vitamin C, vitamin E and iron.

In conclusion, the “link” between Zika virus and microcephaly is far from proven because the original studies lacked scientific discipline and controls. More studies are needed to clarify what role the virus may play in these birth defects. However, it is probably best to take a precautionary approach until more is known.

Is it time to bring back DDT to eradicate the mosquitos that carry Zika and other diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever and other diseases? Over 80% of infectious diseases are caused by insects. Assumed adverse environmental and health effects of this important insecticide have failed to materialize in many repeated controlled studies over the last 40 years. See “DDT: A Case Study in Scientific Fraud,” by J. Gordon Edwards, PhD entomology, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 9 Number 3 Fall 2004, at


“Eclamc Final Document – V.3, Summary and conclusions of Documents 1-5,” December 30th, 2015!/file/NS-724-2015_ECLAMC-ZIKA%20VIRUS_V-FINAL_012516.pdf

“Neural Tube Defects and Maternal Intake of Micronutrients Related to One-Carbon Metabolism or Antioxidant Activity,” US National Institute of Health, Angela L. Chandler1, Charlotte A. Hobbs1, Bridget S. Mosley1, Robert J. Berry2, Mark A.Canfield3, Yan Ping Qi2, Anna Maria Siega-Riz4, Gary M. Shaw5, and National Birth Defects Prevention Study, in Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2012 November ; 94(11): 864–874. doi:10.1002/bdra.23068.

  1. Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Little Rock, AR 72202
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
  3. Birth Defects Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas
  4. Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition, University of North Carolina School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  5. Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California

“Brazil’s birth-defects puzzle, Zika virus might not be only factor in reported microcephaly surge.” By Declan Butler, 28 July 2016, Nature, Vol. 535, Page 475-6.

“Zika epidemic uncovers Brazil’s hidden birth defect problem,” by Alex Cuadros, March 1, 2016, Washington Post

Disease Transmission by Arthropods,” E. J. L. Soulsby and William R. Harvey, Science 176, no. 4039 (1972): 1153–1155.

“DDT: A Case Study in Scientific Fraud,” by J. Gordon Edwards, PhD entomology, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 9 Number 3 Fall 2004, at