The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest commercial airplane ever built. Completed earlier this year, it stretches nearly 240 feet long and almost 80 feet high. It can seat 555 passengers on two decks and carry them up to 8,000 nautical miles. By any measure it is a marvel of engineering.
Imagine filling five of these planes to the brim with children—most four years old or less. Now crash them all. Do it every day: seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. That will give you an idea of the African death toll thanks to malaria.
Today the World Health Organization and UNICEF jointly released a report on the disease, concluding malaria kills a child every thirty seconds and siphons off 1.3% of economic growth from the worst affected countries. To combat the disease, the report suggests a variety of methods, including pesticide spraying which admits is the most effective method.
The report even points out the most controversial chemical in this regard—DDT—was principle in eliminating malaria in the West. According to one graph, the sixties witnessed the some of greatest decline in malaria and was the height of DDT use. The WHO still recommends the insecticide for the worst afflicted countries.
But it does not recommend its widespread use. It’s not even mentioned in methods for improving the situation. DDT—a chemical that is safe enough to eat and cheap enough for the struggling countries to afford—is Africa’s greatest hope. But greens continue to oppose it based on the precautionary principle: it might hurt the environment, though there is no evidence that it would. The concerns are unfounded. The consequences are real. DDT could save more lives than a cancer vaccine and make a big step to pulling an entire continent from gut-wrenching poverty. How can we even pause?