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Where Monboit Got It Wrong

When will Stewart Brand admit he was wrong? | George Monbiot | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Georgie is getting himself in a right lather. Channel 4, What the Green Movement Got Wrong, among many other subjects had a section on DDT.

The producers of the film had to change the script just a couple of hours before it was broadcast, as a result of the false and actionable accusations it made concerning the pesticide DDT. Until that point the film made the following claims:

• That Greenpeace campaigned for a worldwide ban on DDT.
• That this ban was achieved.
• That, as a result, millions of people died of malaria. These deaths were attributed by the programme to green campaigners.

Before the programme aired, some of this was stripped out, but the version broadcast still creates the impression that there was a global ban on DDT for all purposes.
It's simply not true. DDT for disease control has never been banned worldwide.

What George doesn't reveal at this point is that he published a review of the film whilst it was still being aired obviously based a draft version that was then changed. In the review he says; "For example, the film maintains that, as a result of campaigning by groups such as Greenpeace, the pesticide DDT was banned worldwide."

And he now he acknowledges that that wasn't in the film, only an "impression" of it was left in his mind.

He started the review with a fiction "Last night it aired yet another polemic" - when the review was written before broadcast. The review is wrong on a material fact, on his own admission. And yet he is stamping his foot about the film maker not coming clean.

His complaint seems to be that you can't blame "The Greens" for DDT not being used to save lives because they didn't get a total ban. Greenpeace never called for a total ban but supported "calls for all DDT use to be phased out. The phase-out commitment is often loosely referred to as a "ban."
It reminds me of David Irving attempts to absolve Hitler of the unfortunate decline in the Jewish population in the lands he ruled... There is no paper link, it wasn't exactly the number claimed, it was a bread oven.....

It seems the film accepts the point about Greenpeace not calling for the total ban (I haven't found a transcript to check). So George is increasingly pointing at one point in a draft that was corrected before broadcast to invalidate the whole film.

A pretty pathetic response.


From everything I've seen, Monbiot was dead right. The program, even if modified as you say it was, got the facts about DDT and malaria wrong.

Bad reporting. Bad reporting produces bad information, which makes for bad policy.

Nothing said about DDT and malaria in the program was right. Monbiot was right to call for retractions.

Ban or no ban, surely the interesting bit is that developing countries stopped using DDT and malaria came back. Is that in dispute? If not, they why did developing countries stop using DDT if not because of environmentalists?

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