Greta Thunberg, the sixteen year old darling-du-jour of environmental activism, just got named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, presumably for having the audacity to blare “How dare you!” at the adults who aren’t destroying their nations’ economies by radically decarbonizing energy production. Her outrage, earnest and heartfelt, won her the award. Climateers did well with young Greta.

Meanwhile, over at the World Health Organization, a laundry list of global public health issues is on the docket. The ten identified in bold-face are: Noncommunicable diseases (cancer, heart disease, diabetes); influenza; “fragile and vulnerable settings,” i.e. places where drought, famine, conflict, and population displacement put people’s health at risk; antimicrobial resistance; Ebola and similar pathogens; “weak primary health care,” anti-vax, rephrased as “vaccine hesitancy;” Dengue; HIV; and, of course (and at the top of the list), air pollution and climate change.

All the matters on the list are indeed of concern with one exception: the false conflation of air pollution and global warming. The former is a major current issue, the latter’s impact on public health is a matter of major debate and substantial misinformation (e.g. global warming is making hurricanes stronger and more common!!!).

I do take major issue, however with these being the top ten, to the exclusion of two major and easily addressable global public health issues: Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD), which kills a million a year (half of them children), and malaria, which kills half a million a year. Ebola, by comparison, kills fewer than ten thousand annually when outbreaks occur. Similarly, anti-vax claims lives, but not on the order of magnitude that either VAD or malaria currently does.

The remedy for VAD exists, and I’ve covered it repeatedly on these pages: Golden Rice, genetically-modified to provide Vitamin A, has been around since 1999.

Ditto for malaria, and again, I’ve covered it repeatedly on these pages. DDT, one of the biggest victims of the movement launched by Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, could clobber malaria without causing the environmental doom that misinformed or tendentious detractors have been screaming about. and save hundreds of thousands of lives. Also worth noting is that top-tenner dengue, which infects several hundred million a year, is also mosquito-borne, and thus remediable with DDT. Severe dengue infections number about half a million a year, and around 25,000 die from then per annum.

So, right at hand, with plenty of good science behind them, are remedies for public health matters that kill a million and a half people a year. Now, and annually, and not just in some hazy future decade or century.

Where’s the outrage over all those dead children? Where are the Greta Thunbergs decrying the selfishness and the apathy to this horrific death toll? Who is out there, gaining front-page coverage by yelling “How dare you!” at anti-GMO activists who are denying this lifesaving advance to the world’s poor brown and yellow children?

Since the US banned DDT in 1972, over 50 million people, most of them children, have died from malaria. That’s eight times the number murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. It’s equivalent to the sum total of all the genocides of human history. It’s the entire population of Spain, or Colombia, or South Korea, or the entire west coast of America.

Where’s the outrage?

Golden Rice was invented 20 years ago. Were it not for opposition to GMOs in rich nations, many of the 10 million that have died from VAD (not to mention the two hundred fifty million who suffer other health problems due to VAD) could have been saved.

Again, where’s the outrage?

While climate change activists brashly proclaim themselves champions for the world, I suspect they prioritize global warming because they worry it might affect them. Those poor children on the other side of the globe? Out of sight, out of mind. Worse, some of them think that the world would be better off with fewer people, anyway.

Ever cross paths with one of those die-off advocates? Next time, make sure you give them some outrage.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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