December 2, 2006

Saturday 061202

Rest Day


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"Bike Control Basics: Dropping Off Obstacles", Scott Hagnas - CrossFit Journal Issue 52

A Conversation with Bjorn Lomborg.

Post thoughts to comments.

Posted by lauren at December 2, 2006 4:32 PM

I love rest day.

Comment #1 - Posted by: Alfie at December 1, 2006 4:53 PM

#1 reason why CF is awesome:

It has my family actually concerned that I may be working too hard at the gym. After meeting pukie during Thursday's WOD (which turned a few heads in and of itself) I apparently looked "not well" upon returning home. Love it.

Question: Any suggestions from the pros on proper breathing technique during long runs such as yesterdays WOD. This may be a tough one to answer through text, I know.

Comment #2 - Posted by: Fletch at December 1, 2006 5:33 PM

Mark Rippetoe,
Great Article on the Crossfit Total in the journal. Can't wait to give it a try to set a base line. If you saw the comments over the last day or two, you've seen that a standard for all exercises is important. Otherwise there's confusion. There's been a lot of chatter about people taking liberties with scaling or substitutions in order to post better times then they might truly be capable of. Your 3 lifts and their corresponding rules for a successful attempt are a true test for us all. This ought to separate the posers from the rest.


Thanks for the great content. I appreciate your efforts.


Comment #3 - Posted by: MCORRY at December 1, 2006 5:35 PM

man, you just keep posting cooler sports. I used to ride BMX in high school, and keeping control of your bike while 10' or more up in the air is no small task. lots of strength is required. keep up the good posts.

Comment #4 - Posted by: Jonathan at December 1, 2006 5:58 PM

How cool, a reference to the new CF Journal and there it is in my email. Can't wait to get to it. Thanks Lauren.

Comment #5 - Posted by: bingo at December 1, 2006 6:16 PM

Excellent post, Coach.

It's so nice to have a little reason in the global climate change debate.

Oh, and fabulous picture, too.

Comment #6 - Posted by: madman at December 1, 2006 7:32 PM

Damn. Thinking about my PRs I have a CrossFit Total of 700 and I weigh probably around exactly 200lbs. That's a CrossFit ration of 3.5. My goal for next year is to move that up to 5.

Comment #7 - Posted by: Chris H at December 1, 2006 8:02 PM

Go Navy, beat Army!

Going to my first Army-Navy game tomorrow. Can't wait.

Comment #8 - Posted by: Matt G. at December 1, 2006 8:04 PM

Lomborg’s first book (Skeptical Environmentalist) is a great example of why we don’t want statisticians making our decisions for us. In it he makes some good points and many more bad ones. His math is always accurate, but in many cases he answers the wrong questions.

Not here, though. We all definitely would benefit from a more reasoned discussion of climate change and framing that discussion in terms of the potential impact on humans is completely appropriate. The reason this is so is that ultimately the biosphere on the whole would likely benefit from an increase in average temperature. We don't need to worry about saving the planet, it will get along just fine eventually, after we are gone.

Anybody who thinks we can accurately predict the effect of climate change on human population is either sadly mistaken or intentionally stirring things up. The systems in question are so complicated we simply don’t understand them to the extent required to make such predictions confidently.

That fact should be cause for more caution than we have been exercising. The stakes in terms of human suffering are so high this is one game where we don't want to go "all in".

Comment #9 - Posted by: carl at December 1, 2006 9:08 PM

A minor point, but one worth mentioning; If you have a scan at historical maps at various points over the last few thousand years you will see that sea levels regularly rise and fall, sometimes reclaiming land, sometimes giving it up.

I think our insistence on trying to reverse the current trend for global warming - whether we caused it or not - is a fine example of just how neurotic we are as a species. Every other species on the planet will merely adjust to this, and work with it, or else die. It's part of a much wider - and much longer - cycle of life, death and regeneration than we can really perceive.

We need to get over thinking that we are anything more than transient visitors to this planet.

Comment #10 - Posted by: RC at December 1, 2006 10:58 PM

A healthy debate is great.As I said there are I am sure some great athletes on Crossfit and maybe some world class sportsmen would struggle to keep up with them.
I read all the posts transition time I meant for the whole circuit i.e from pull ups to push ups to sit ups to squats=8-10 seconds.If this bloke did it then good luck.Oh yes,whats self image got to do with it;people who get get to upset by some simple internet discussion maybe have the issue...!
Only joking lets get on with the WOD.Damm its a rest day.

Comment #11 - Posted by: Guy at December 1, 2006 11:28 PM

Finally, a skeptic who is not a hot-head. I wish there were more people like this in the debate on global warming. He can rationally and coolly debate the pros and cons of climate change and DDT use without resorting to idiotic labels like "liberal" and "conservative."

I only hope that more of us strive to be more like Bjorn Lomborg. Obviously, one side is going to be wrong about something or ignore a pertinent fact, but the competing side should at least admit that they may be wrong. In our age of 24-hour non-news and firebrand rabble-rousers, it is refreshing to see someone who can see both sides of the debate and weigh actual pros and cons of issues and apply those lessons to substantive policy instead of leaning on tired dogma and ideology.

Comment #12 - Posted by: LucienNicholson at December 1, 2006 11:41 PM

Thank God for a rest day!

Comment #13 - Posted by: Aaron Jacob at December 2, 2006 12:02 AM

Since in the western world, lack of clean water, poor sanitation and pollution is not killing as many people as in developing countries, the middle-class voters focus on trying to conserve the environment and the little that is left of our parks/forests and public spaces. Perception is reality and with the media and politicians successfully sensing that global warming and the environment is a topic by which they can get more revenues and power, I see a positive feedback loop by which more and more people think that these issues must be quite important. More and more attention leads to regulations and laws are being passed and silly statistics by which people actually believe that by leaving electrical equipment on stand-by you are contributing to a global catastrophe.

Here are some stats for you to think about:
Average standby power drawn in a household : ~40W or 1 lightbulb
Cost for 1 day : 1kwh which is £0.1 or $0.2 ($70 for 1 year)
Carbon cost for 1 kwh : ~0.5kg for gas/oil or ~1kg for coal (~135kg for 365kwh or 1 year)

Respiratory C02 emission for average person over a day: 0.9 kg (even more if you do crossfit WODs)
10 mile drive with car assuming 150g/km co2 : 2.4kg

Cost to plant a tree to capture 1000kg co2 : $5-$15 (variable)

Planting trees, recycling co2, research into clean energy are all easy and cheap problems. Controlling deforestation, pollution and exploitation of human capital in developing countries are the tough and expensive problems. But in the western world, this is not what the average Joe has to experience on a day to day basis. This is why intelligent debate must take priority over populist agenda and criminalization of sceptics.

Comment #14 - Posted by: Tamas at December 2, 2006 3:59 AM

Fletch #2:

I am a former distance runner. In my early years of training and racing I would just go out and run as fast as I could without serious regard to pace or breathing. Turned out I was a reasonably fast runner on my own so such considerations were not critical.

But as I upped my distances a running coach told me the best way to harnass my ability was to regulate my breathing. In a nutshell, regulating my breathing would govern my speed for the first mile or two, and only allow me enough oxygen to run at a pace that I my muscles were properly warmed-up for.

The solution was simle: Breath-in only throuth the nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth like you are blowing soap bubbles. The trick is, you must resist the urge to breath through your mouth - and that often means slowing your pace to make it physically possible.

That little trick helped me keep my pace and my heart rate regulated.

Once you settle into a comfortabe pace (15 or 20 min into a run) you should be able to go back to inhaling through your mouth.

Comment #15 - Posted by: Rob F at December 2, 2006 4:27 AM

Thank Jesus for rest days. I might be able to move tomorrow.

Comment #16 - Posted by: Christian C at December 2, 2006 5:18 AM


Help me out; is "idiotic label" more or less of an idiotic label than "conservative" or "liberal"?

Does context matter or is idiocy attributable to the terms regardless?

Who do you think has excoriated, ostracized, and condemned Lomborg's ability to "rationally and coolly debate the pros and cons of climate change and DDT use without resorting to idiotic labels like "liberal" and "conservative."?

You get one guess.

Comment #17 - Posted by: Coach at December 2, 2006 5:38 AM


Thanks! This work is something I've been excited about for quite a while. I was, and remain, surprised, no, shocked at the lack of excitement generated over Coach Jason Bagwell's successes with his CF mod's. Rip and I were able to pow-wow at length at Rainier CrossFit during our cert and this article and our ensuing application (hint/tomorrow) are the fruit.

Rip's a genius, folks.

Comment #18 - Posted by: Coach at December 2, 2006 5:39 AM

Dang! My CFJ link goes to my work account, and I left before it arrived! Sounds like a good one, and I have to wait until Monday!!! Double dang!!

Comment #19 - Posted by: Josh L at December 2, 2006 6:36 AM

Hi all,
{CJ 60x2x4, 80x2, 90x1, (102.5x1x15; 1:00 interval; 14:00)}.
Bdw. 84...

Comment #20 - Posted by: Jonathan Jensen at December 2, 2006 7:09 AM

I got a PR on today's workout. I rested an additional 60 minutes this morning. I subbed sleeping for resting though :>)

Comment #21 - Posted by: Billy at December 2, 2006 7:23 AM

No disrespect, but I'm calling you out ;)

Comment #22 - Posted by: Chris H. at December 2, 2006 7:36 AM

bw:200 age:35
rested yesterday due to shin splints
3x double double pullups to failure (20, 18, 14, 16) followed by twice the amount of pushups immediately following (1 minute rest)
3x 25 squat thrusts followed immediately by reps to failure standing military press (155 lbs)
3x 25 burpees followed by 3 sets of 8 reps incline bench(245 lbs)
3 sets L-chins to failure 3 sets of dips to failure
some core work with medicine ball
I felt really bad for missing the run .. =(

Comment #23 - Posted by: jamienoki at December 2, 2006 7:42 AM

Josh L,

Send me a more convenient email and you won't have to wait.

Merry Christmas!

Comment #24 - Posted by: Coach at December 2, 2006 7:52 AM

that 10K (my first ever- i'm kind of a 5K girl) that was such a source of pride yesterday has become just a source of pain...

So will people at at my gym (trainers, other people working out, etc.) eventually stop harrassing me about what I'm doing ("NOBODY does cleans, why don't you just get on the elliptical like a good little girl"), or do I just have to get hardened to it?

Comment #25 - Posted by: Ingrid at December 2, 2006 8:36 AM

With the CF'ers in San Antonio this morning, we did:

5 rounds of time of:
10 pull-ups
20 wall balls, 20# ball
~100m run
10 pull-ups
~200m run
30 push-ups, feet elevated to 36"
~100m run

Total time = 41:19

Comment #26 - Posted by: Nicholas Burgett at December 2, 2006 8:39 AM

No problem, Coach...I'll wait until Monday...I keep them all on my work computer anyway!

Merry Christmas from Parris Island!

Comment #27 - Posted by: Josh L at December 2, 2006 9:29 AM

Love the new CrossFit Total. But, shouldn't we divide the total score by some multiple to take into account body weight? Or, just divide by the bodyweight. I.e., I have a client that weighs 225lbs. Based on the CrossFit Total, his total is 805. I am only 165lbs and my total is 725.

If I divide the totals by bodyweight, my client's is 3.57; mine is 4.4. His total is higher, but my ratio is better when accounting for bodyweight.

Comment #28 - Posted by: Jim at December 2, 2006 9:42 AM

Caught up with OHS

DL drills followed.

Coach, I haven't opened this month's Journal; are Coach Bagwell's mods there? If not where might I find them? I just recently subscribed so if they are in a previous issue I'll go to the CF store and buy the back issue. Thanks in advance.


Comment #29 - Posted by: bingo at December 2, 2006 9:58 AM

thank god for girls like you, Ingrid
I wish most girls would take a chance and actually do something other than cardio, it would probably help their weight loss goals more, but I digress

I'm also thinking about buying a shirt that says "Coach" on it (not in reference to this Coach, just in general) and helping people with their squat form
how do you guys feel about people trying to help you with your form?
you probably don't have any problems now, but maybe before you started crossfit?
I just don't wanna seem like a know-it-all.

Comment #30 - Posted by: Anthony from Ottawa at December 2, 2006 9:59 AM

Ahh, so much to read! How is you can get behind in a matter of one day? I haven't had chance to read the article yet or the Journal. I'm heading out to do Barbara and then rake. I'll post the results later.

I just wanted to share with you the difference that I noticed in N's strength today. She was able to carry 3 different boxes that weighed about 35 lbs each, measuring 2 feet by 3 feet, about 200 feet without stopping. She also did a good power clean to pick them up off the floor to carry back out later. She wasn't tired after and was only out of breath for a second or so. Thank you for the difference you have made in our family!


Comment #31 - Posted by: jknl at December 2, 2006 11:32 AM

Anthony #25
I heard a quote once (I'll probably get it wrong): Unsolicited advice is just as often heeded. Or something like that. Unless you are particularly gifted in social graces, you face a difficult task. Since starting CF, I find it very difficult not to force the kool-aid on everyone in the gym, particularly the dude doing cable flyes underneath MY pull-up bar.

Comment #32 - Posted by: Robert@ Combat Outpost at December 2, 2006 11:32 AM

Interesting article with Lomborg. The Copenhagen Consensus that he mentions adds communicable diseases to the top of the list of world problems.

The #14 post brings up an interesting point: average Joe (like me) in US and other developed countries are clearly disadvantaged in appreciating the scope of communicable disease, bad water, poor sanitation and indoor pollution as less developed real estate residents. I'm not complaining, just appreciating people who wrestle with and publish reasoned thought around this kind of information.

Copenhagen Consensus link:

Comment #33 - Posted by: John Tuitele at December 2, 2006 12:41 PM


Where in Ottawa do you peruse because since I got here things seem to be moving at a good pace as CrossFit relates. I'm trying to get everyone together, and that seems to be a great deal of ones!

Comment #34 - Posted by: Pierre Auge at December 2, 2006 1:51 PM

I completed Barbara (posted times on that day) then raked for 1 1/2 hours. My arms are toast. I'll have to read the article tomorrow.


Comment #35 - Posted by: jknl at December 2, 2006 3:02 PM


I think the terms "liberal" and "conservative" have been used with such abandon that they no longer have any descriptive value beyond a device for demagoguery. If I'm not mistaken, the term "liberal" arose out of the Enlightenment era and when you called someone a liberal back then, it meant that person had faith in human faculties to govern themselves and rational decisions. That term no longer means that anymore. In the sixties, more radical democrats who wanted change the establishment democrats in congress didn't want to push for called the less radical Democrats "liberals." Now, Republicans have appropriated it and it is often used as a blanket attack term meaning anyone from an anomalous tax and spend "liberal" to a "bleeding heart," unpatriotic war hater, to baby killers who push a pro-choice agenda.

A similar history on the meaning of "conservative" can be traced from Edmund Burke's coining of the term until now. By the way, I'm sure he would have agreed he was both a liberal and a conservative!

While these somewhat exaggerated characters might indeed coincide in a few individuals, I find it hard to believe that all of a country as diverse as America can be dichotomized into "liberal" and "conservative." By using only two terms to characterize the sides of a debate on any issue is inherently dishonest. People have many differing opinions and not all people hole one idea or it's opposite. The widespread use of those terms dumbs down the debate and leads one to actually think that there are only two sides to a debate. To think that way pushes out otherwise valuable insight to a debate, and in my opinion, though I may be wrong, brings press to firebrands who often know less about an issue than experts who are pushed out because they don't fit some contrived stereotype of what an argument should be.

So, in my opinion, I would rather terms like "liberal" and "conservative" not be so widely thrown around when discussing matters that don't have anything to do with the proponent's perceived political ideologies. If I'm pro-war and that gets me labeled a "conservative" what does that have to do with my stand on DDT usage in the US or Africa? Nothing.

The terms themselves have become attack words and work to detract from healthy debate. It is not necessarily the terms themselves, but rather their misuse that I have an issue with. Yes, context does matter as do the terms themselves. If I'm talking about "the liberal foundations of the Constitution," the term is suitably used. However, if I rail on those "liberal" environmentalists, the term tends to sound like a derogatory label.

"Idiotic label" is not necessarily an idiotic label if what it is describing serves to dumb down debate which is what I think those two terms tend to do.

As for your question "who do you think has excoriated, ostracized, and condemned Lomborg's ability to 'rationally and coolly debate the pros and cons of climate change and DDT use without resorting to idiotic labels like 'liberal' and 'conservative.'?"

That's hard to say, I'd say it was people with a vested interest in keeping the global warming debate focused on worst-case scenarios and Armageddon predictions. When the book first was published in English there were a lot scholars who said that it was their duty to exaggerate the facts of climate change to gain political traction. Those people were the ones who criticized Lomborg the most.

As to whether they are "liberal" or "conservative," that is hard to give a clear answer. According to original meaning of conservative, a conservative is someone who would like to keep the established order. So in that case conservatives must be responsible.

Comment #36 - Posted by: LucienNicholson at December 2, 2006 3:03 PM

double kb c&p
26s x 14; 35s x 8,6,6,6

Tmill, incline 2
200 run/200 rest @ 6, 7, 7.5, 8
100 run/100 rest @ 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10
(treadmill speeds - not mph)

Comment #37 - Posted by: Lynne Pitts at December 2, 2006 3:17 PM

Jim #28: The CFT is similar to any other lifting sport's total in that it may be compared with those done by people at different bodyweights by applying a formula developed for that purpose. A simple linear comparison does not work because lighter people have an advantage over heavier people for a variety of reasons. Just dividing the total by bodyweight does not work. The formulas can be found here: and here:

But the real question is, why is it necessary to compare everybody's total to everybody else's total? The bigger guy is stronger than you are, in terms of his ability to move weight. Each weight class in a competition should theoretically have a higher total than the lighter weight class, and within that class you compete with people of similar potential ability (this ignores age, for which Master's formulas have been developed). The heavier classes are expected to be stronger than the lighter classes, while the lighter classes are expected to be stronger pound-for-pound than the heavier classes. Formulas can be applied to totals for the purposes of awarding the Best Lifter trophy, but not every contest bothers with this.

Compare your total with you, and everything will be fine, at least until we organize the CrossFit Nationals.

And thanks to Coach for the kind words, and the confidence.


Comment #38 - Posted by: Rippetoe at December 2, 2006 3:25 PM


Read Rip's article. I think I see where you and coach Bagwell may be going. If my CF Total (based on previous 1RM) is 645, and you and Coach Rip determine that the "Standard CF Total" is X, then my MINIMAL weight for the strength/met-con WOD's such as Diane or Linda would be 645/X (the "CF ratio) times the Rx'd weight. This would seem to be a more realistic scale than simply adjusting based on body weight. One could then have some rational basis to compare Rx'd times with "CF ratio" scaled times; it may also give some guidance to the strongest in the community as to how they might scale the weights UP to enhance their challenge. Indeed, if this is what is coming, it illustrates even more clearly the astonishing chasm between Kelly, AFT, OPT (all of whom are lighter, I believe) and me.

If I'm totally missing the boat, or if I'm simply being presumptuous feel free to whack me! But seriously, Coach, I'm a pretty cerebral character and CF is the only fitness program/philosophy that has ever engaged me intellectually. I had a blast just pondering this. Thanks as always.


Comment #39 - Posted by: bingo at December 2, 2006 4:09 PM

Long post, but I'm tired of fooling around.

It seems to me there are a lot of scientists who—from what is no doubt in most cases a profound emotional sense of responsibility to warn us of what COULD happen—have forgotten their own first principles.

Here is an excellent quote from John von Neumann, who wrote the foundation text on quantum mechanics, was essential to our rocket program, and who was an early exponent of the use of computing for weather prediction:

“The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they mainly make models. By a model is meant a mathematical construct which, with the addition of certain verbal interpretations, describes observed phenomena. The justification of such a mathematical construct is solely and precisely that it is expected to work.” [emphasis mine]

In the last rest day, I offered the anecdote that were we to put weather sensors, covering every conceivable variable, including CO2 and temperature, at 1’ spacing from the surface of the earth to the top of the atmosphere, and connect them to an infinitely powerful supercomputer, we still couldn’t get usable information as little as a month from now, USING LINEAR APPROACHES.

Defined functionally, a linear equation is one which, given a mostly accurate input, yields a mostly accurate output. We can predict to quite a number of decimal points the velocity at which a 10’ shotput dropped from ten feet will impact the ground. Not an infinite number, as measurements are always going to be imperfect to some extent, but quite a few.

However, scientists have realized that certain systems appear to be non-linear, which means that given a mostly accurate input, you have no idea at all what will happen, if you try to compute things in a linear fashion. This effect was discovered by rounding a number from 6 decimal places or so, to 3 decimal places or so, in a computer program. The divergence from the expected path was rapid and complete. This is chaos.

With further investigation, it was discovered that within chaos there are not, precisely, deterministic elements, but certain almost repeating patterns, making it not totally random, when looked at over time. Typically, the whole thing, plotted out in 2 or 3 dimensions, would aggregate around a center point, which was called a strange attractor, which—while not technically the “average” of the system, effectively seemed to act that way, certainly visually.

Now, it is a relevant and good question: what is the “average” temperature of our planet supposed to be? Are we currently hot or cold relative to it? How would we even go about answering this question? It is my understanding that according to some data, there have been periods that were substantially hotter than now. Quite obviously, there have been Ice Ages, and until the mid-90’s mainstream climatologists—to the extent that they worried about any of this—worried about a global ice age.

Given that weather is inherently chaotic, for there to be ANY predictions made whatever, that even attempt to be “scientific”, they have got to figure out what the baseline level of knowledge they would have to know in order to create a relatively stable system. This is called, in my understanding, the “attractor dimension”.

Obviously, very complex systems have many, many variables, all of which themselves act chaotically, and interact with many other chaotic systems, chaotically. As we’ve seen, the linear math is absolutely hopeless, so the only possible basis for a computer model wanting to predict anything is the creation of stable “strange attractors” that mimic what we can observe.

There’s the rub. As von Neumann said, mathematical constructions are EXPECTED TO WORK. As Dr. Glassman has pointed out, when you create a formula, you haven’t peered into the heart of the universe, you have just created a useful heuristic to predict real world events. You need to be careful not to conflate the map you’ve made, with the territory, as Korszybski put it. They are two different things. They are, hopefully, related, but definitionally different.

What we have in the case of the global warming debate are models which fail the basic test of working. They are useless for predicting anything. They are mathematical formulas which perform at the level of chance. IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW COMPLEX THEY ARE. It doesn’t matter how fast the computers are, or how smart the scientists are. What matters, in science, is the connection between observed reality and theory. We have a theory that is actively searching for a reality it hasn’t found yet.

And, as I’ve pointed out on past Rest Days, a hypothesis which fails to account for observable phenomena is wrong. It may only be a little wrong. It may be a LOT wrong, but it is wrong. This is canonical, categorical fact for anyone “doing” the scientific method. This is unambiguous.

The way science works is you observe something, then postulate an explanation, then compare how the explanation works as the observable phenomena goes on. Can you predict, consistently, what will happen? This is done over and over. A hypothesis that doesn’t work is said to be “falsified.” A hypothesis which can’t be put to the test is called “unfalsifiable”, and is definitionally outside the purview of science.

When a scientist says “we can’t wait”, what he is saying is “I have a currently unfalsifiable hypothesis that I want you to take as fact.”

Again, to be clear, global warming theorists are in effect telling us they have built a linear, predictive system, which is just as good as observation. Any good physicist—which I think Dr. Glassman is (although he may technically be an Aerospace Engineer, not sure)—has to ask “what has been left out?”.

On past rest days, he has offered specific pieces of information that appear to him missing. This is how science is supposed to work. The fact that skeptics have been so man-handled and abused is IN ITSELF evidence of how politicized this whole debate has become.

With respect to that element of it, you have to look at what “meat and potatoes” issues are that the Democrats have to run on. From where I’m sitting, the only two issues that get people worked up are Iraq and the environment. Republicans tend to support the victory of our troops in Iraq, and tend to be skeptical of most of the hysterical claims made about the environment. This makes these issues the Democrats can get traction on, if they can make them issues. This is why Al Gore put his movie out. Surely this is clear enough to everyone. Surely it is equally clear why he made such obviously misleading statements such as “if the seas rise 20 feet. . .” knowing full well (unless he’s grossly incompetent,, which in itself puts the whole project in question) that that was nowhere close to the actual projection. If my Aunt Tillie had testicles, she’d be my uncle. (pologies, I couldn’t resist that.)

Clearly, this is a political issue, and it’s unfortunate that many, many mainstream scientists appear to be abandoning their traditional and justified skepticism to back predictions which fail basic philosophical and procedural criteria.

Comment #40 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 3, 2006 5:57 PM

For a correction to Lomborg's misleading (or outright false) statements made about malaria, I urge all to see

Also follow this link to an article called “Agricultural production and malaria resurgence in Central America and India” published in the peer-reviewed journal -Nature- (Vol 293 17 Sepember 1981 pages 181–185) by Chapin and Wasserstrom.

excerpts with comments here:

Longer excerpts here:

The essence is this: "malaria did skyrocket in India in the 70s. But not because they cut back on DDT spraying because of pressure from environmentalists. The graph shows that they didn’t cut back on DDT, but dramatically increased its use. So how come malaria increased? Well, the increase in DDT use was in agriculture. This caused the insects to become resistant, so they had to use more DDT to get the same effect. This caused more resistance, so even more DDT was used and so on. The end result was that in the areas where DDT was used in agriculture, the mosquitoes became completely resistant and DDT no longer stopped them from spreading malaria, with the disastrous results..."

The Nature article also points out ways in which most insect born diseases were wiped out in the 20th century before the use of high-tech methods such as DDT. So there are alternatives.

Another common rumor is that DDT was banned globally. A more accurate statement would be that the use of DDT for agriculture was strongly discouraged and almost banned. In fact no one in the malaria eradication business is asking for the return of agricultural DDT usage. They are asking for more freedom to spray DDT for indoor residual use as a mosquito vector control. The UN always had exemptions for public health use. Countries do not have to apply for an exemption, they just have to notify the UN if they plan to use it against malaria.

I believe the issue of insect resistance to DDT makes irrelevant the claim that DDT has no health impact on humans. But even that claim is unsupported. DDT commonly collects at the top of the food chain and that's us. Studies of DDT on humans are hard to do ethically: would you volunteer to be tested?

NOTE: The EPA, in 1987, classified DDT as a proved animal carcinogen and class B2, a probable human carcinogen, based on "Observation of tumors (generally of the liver) in seven studies in various mouse strains and three studies in rats. DDT is structurally similar to other probable carcinogens, such as DDD and DDE."

Regarding human carcinogenicity, "The existing epidemiological data are inadequate. Autopsy studies relating tissue levels of DDT to cancer incidence have yielded conflicting results. ... Studies of occupationally exposed workers and volunteers have been of insufficient duration to be useful in assessment of the carcinogenicity of DDT to humans."

Comment #41 - Posted by: mc at December 4, 2006 10:54 AM

more on adverse effects of DDT on humans:

* 09:47 13 July 2001
* From New Scientist
* Emma Young

Pregnant women exposed to the insecticide DDT are much more likely to give birth prematurely, or to full-term but low birth weight babies, says a US team. Although DDT is now banned in the developed world, it is still widely used elsewhere to combat malaria, particularly in Africa.

"One of the reasons this finding is important is there are not any generally accepted adverse health effects of exposure to DDT or its metabolite, DDE, in humans," says researcher Matthew Longnecker of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina.

Longnecker analysed data on 2380 babies born in the US in the 1960s, when DDT was still widely used. He also measured the concentration of DDE, a metabolite of DDT, in blood samples taken from the mothers during pregnancy. His team found that the risk of premature birth or low birth weight rose with increasing concentrations of blood DDE. A high blood DDE concentration was more strongly linked to prematurity than maternal smoking.

Premature babies account for a large proportion of infant deaths. If high DDT exposure really does cause prematurity, the insecticide could have accounted for 15 per cent of infant deaths in the US in the 1960s, Longnecker estimates.

"In earlier decades in the US, we may have had an epidemic of pre-term births that we are just now discovering," he says. "We have to be concerned about what might be happening in those 25 countries where DDT is still used."

DDT has been proven to have adverse effects on bird reproduction, in particular. Environmental groups have long campaigned for an international ban. But the insecticide is cheap and highly effective against the mosquitoes that spread malaria.

Last December, DDT was dropped at the last minute from an international treaty banning persistent organic pollutants.


Studies in mice have found that DDE blocks the binding of the hormone progesterone to its receptors, and in theory, this could cause both prematurity and low birth weight in humans, says Longnecker. However, he adds that there are other potential explanations for the findings.

Journal reference: The Lancet (vol 358, p 114)

Comment #42 - Posted by: mc at December 4, 2006 12:20 PM

Consider the effects of the following drug: it can include pain, diarrhea, constipation, mouth sores, hair loss, nausea and vomiting, as well as blood-related side effects, which include low white blood cell, low red blood cell, and platelet counts. Not uncommonly, effects from this drug can kill the patient. Yet, it continues to be used. Why is that? Does context matter?

Consider the following article:

This was taken at random from quite a number of Google hits:

"Malaria during pregnancy reduces birth weight, and low birth weight is a major determinant of infant mortality. "

Death as a result of malaria is of course not good for anyone's health either. It's almost as bad as getting cancer, which would of course necessitate the first treatment mentioned.

It's funny. The article posted was on the politicization of environmental issues. For those familiar with the history of the movement, saying the word DDT is like saying "Remember the Alamo".

Is it not conceivable that DDT could be less dangerous than malarial propagation in some cases? Even if the mosquitoes develop resistance, that doesn't mean you haven't saved a lot of lives. And remember, the goal is not to kill all mosquitoes. It is to eliminate the malaria organism, to the extent possible, from the population. Failing that, to keep it as controlled as possible.

If other methods exist, why not use them in tandem with DDT? It just seems strange to me that someone NOT in danger of death or illness from malaria would presume to claim to know what's best for those who DO suffer from it.

It may be that DDT is the perfect solution for one village, but the wrong solution for one 10 miles down the road. The people on the ground usually know better than burocrats.

Yet, arguably, the cry of "Remember the DDT" has caused many, many deaths, likely in the millions, because squeamish people who could see DDT would on balance be a harm, in THEIR AREA, failed to see that the effects of DDT were much less significant than the alternative for substantial parts of the world, and disallowed the use of aid money for purchasing DDT. It wasn't banned, but access to it was made much more difficult, by people who didn't have to live in the areas that needed it.

This is politics. This is looking for an issue that can unite people--in this case spark a movement--and continuing to apply the logic of the case even where it doesn't apply, simply out of institutional momentum, and ideological blindness.

Everyone is prone to it, but the term political correctness was created by one section of the political spectrum, not the other. Lockstep thinking obviously leads to missing essential details. Again, this happens on all parts of the political spectrum. It has only been enshrined, though, in one part. You take a properly indoctrinated newly graduated college student, and I can predict with high precision their opinions on virtually everything. And the irony is, they consider themselves free thinkers.

That should do for now.

Comment #43 - Posted by: Barry Cooper at December 4, 2006 4:10 PM

We're like two days in, and haven't veered too far off track yet, so, without comment, I would like to suggest those with the time read the following article. I found it very enlightening, although I don't necessarily agree with all his conclusions. It explained a lot for me. 9 out of 10 on a helpfulness scale, for me:

Comment #44 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 4, 2006 5:09 PM


Come on. Please.

The point is that a) DDT is not harmless to humans. b) too much AGRICULTURAL usage of DDT actually resulted in more malaria in India.

Everyone knows malaria is bad. Duh. But it is not a simple choice between DDT and malaria. DDT is not a cure for malaria.

Where is the SCIENTIFIC study that shows that discouraging the use of DDT cost "millions of lives"? Where does Lomborg get his information about this?

I've looked around and I can't find it.

Comment #45 - Posted by: mc at December 4, 2006 5:37 PM

Here's a good link:

There are many others, but that one should suffice for now. The comparison is between countries where DDT was used, but not overused, and countries where it was not used, or underused. The absolute numbers with respect to malarial deaths are tremendous.

Comment #46 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 4, 2006 6:19 PM

er, Barry, I asked for a "scientific study" not another political blog by a non-scientist repeating the same misinformation.

If by "absolute numbers with respect to malarial deaths" you mean his running count of over 93 million, note that this number is more than the total number of malaria deaths in the entire world since July 1, 1972 when his clock started.

See Milloy's footnote:
"Note that some of these cases would have occurred irrespective of DDT use. Note also that, while enormously influential, the US ban did not immediately terminate global DDT use and that developing world malaria mortality increased over time rather than instantly leaping to the estimated value of 2,700,000 deaths per year. However, certain in the knowledge that even one human sacrificed on the altar of green misanthropy is infinitely too many, I let stand the linear extrapolation of numbers from an instant start on the 1st of the month following this murderous ban. -- Ed."

So ... 'green misanthropy' didn't really cause 93 million deaths but Milloy will put out false numbers because 'green misanthropy' might have caused one death? So which is it, 93 million or one?

I wonder why Michael Crichton put the number at 50 million? Obviously these are not hard numbers.

Both Crichton and Milloy act as if there are no other pesticides or other methods of eradicating mosquito born disease. This isn't true, nor is DDT even the cheapest. A variety of different studies have been done regarding the rise and fall of malaria in countries where DDT is used or overused or not used, and, taken as a whole, no responsible scientists could support Milloy's ridiculously overstated conclusion that in all cases DDT is the answer to the problem. In some cases it is the answer. In some cases it isn't. This is the position of EPA, WHO, USAID and every other responsible organization. That is why there is not and NEVER HAS BEEN A BAN ON DDT FOR ANTI-MALARIA USE!

Milloy only pretends there is a ban so he can hang malaria deaths around the neck of environmentalists.

Milloy urged the use of DDT in Sri Lanka after the trsunami. Here is a quote from The World Health Organization’s report of malaria in the wake of the tsunami:

"Endemic sporadic malaria close to the affected areas transmitted by An.culicifacies, which has been considered DDT-resistant for many years, but is still sensitive to organophosphates, such as malathion, and pyrethroids."

They stopped using DDT in Sri Lanka and many other places because it stopped being effective, not because of any ban.

But Milloy doesn't seem to care. He just hates environmentalists. Saving the lives of malaria victims is secondary, an act.

And you fell for it, sucker.

Look up Stephen Milloy on Wikipedia and see why he may not be the best spokesman, if your goal is to actually convince me you are on solid scientific footing.

You say, "there are many other" scientific sources for Lomborg's misinformation ... let's see them.

Comment #47 - Posted by: mc at December 4, 2006 10:06 PM
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