I was going to make some snarky comments about his need for instant gratification and and using artificial concern to cover his disdain for most of mankind.
But I won't.
Instead, I will let one of our new favorite bloggers, Emily Mills, cover the subject for me:
As for DDT, McIlheran is wrong when he claims that the pesticide is both safe and banned. While DDT has long been banned outright in most developed countries (with good reason), its use for "vector control" is still approved in many areas afflicted by malaria. When used carefully and in smaller amounts, it can be just as effective, but without the many environmental and health problems that result from widespread usage.
I'm also uncomfortable with his implication that "activists whose main concern is the environment have appropriated the moral high ground once used by those demanding racial equality." If someone were to actually do this, I'd be inclined to give 'em a good smack, but I've yet to meet someone dedicated to a greener way of life who also thought that one was more important than the other.
One should not overshadow the other. They're both extremely important, and frankly, I think they're also somewhat tied together. If we're talking about the rights of working class and poor communities, then the discussion must include the effects of pollution on their lives. Pollution often caused by large, poorly regulated corporations that feel they can get away with dumping on less wealthy, less empowered people. We can combat these situations with better regulation of industry, greener business practices, and by empowering these communities with ways to help themselves through sustainable means.
So yes, we need to care for our fellow human beings. But a major part of that is wrapped up in how we treat our environment. We should be thoughtful and careful about how we do this, but you cannot separate the two. After all, we can't survive without the Earth, but the Earth can survive without us. I'd rather it not come to that.