NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 1, 2005

As a society we lack sufficient resilience -- the ability to prevent, recover from or adapt to adversity -- says Henry I. Miller, M.D. Mindless, anti-technology activism -- whether in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or government -- is inimical to resilience. Miller says it jeopardizes our survival as individuals and our success as a society. Consider:

  • The six-year-old U.S. outbreak of mosquito-borne West Nile virus, a significant threat to public health, has caused more than 2,300 serious infections and scores of deaths in humans in 42 states.
  • In the absence of a vaccine, elimination of the mosquito is the key to preventing epidemics, but fundamental shortcomings in public policy have made DDT, an inexpensive and effective pesticide once widely deployed to kill disease-carrying insects, unavailable.
  • In 1972, on the basis of toxicity to fish and migratory birds (but not to humans), the Environmental Protection Agency banned virtually all uses of DDT; government regulators underplayed scientific evidence of the effectiveness and relative safety of DDT and failed to appreciate the distinction between its large-scale use in agriculture and more limited application for controlling carriers of human disease.

Because it makes fewer options available, flawed public policy compromises resilience. In society, as in biology, survival requires resilience. If individually and collectively we are to meet economic, environmental and public health challenges, we need plenty of options and opportunities for innovation, explains Miller.

Source: Henry I. Miller, M.D. (Hoover Institution, Competitive Enterprise Institute), "The Challenges to America's Resilience," Tech Central Station, October 27, 2005.

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