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Global Warming and Health Fears
An examination of the validity of health problems being
dubiously blamed on global warming.
- [m?-lâr'e-?] - noun. ~ American Heritage Dictionary
An infectious disease characterized by cycles of chills, fever,
and sweating, caused by a protozoan of the genus Plasmodium
in red blood cells, which is transmitted to humans by the bite
of an infected female anopheles mosquito.
warming: Health effects - By Joe Polo - ...If anyone is blaming
health effects on global warming at this point...they probably need
their head examined. In the future...there is a remote possibility that
it could cause hotter temperatures than people are used to - which could
lead to things like heat stroke. But really, I mean honestly, what are
we going to DO about it? At best, we can stop polluting the air - but
if anyone ever suggests giving the atmosphere a boost - by shooting
some chemical up into the air...we need to send that man/woman to the
little white room with a straight-jacket. Article begins.
warms to global warming - By Kunal Chatterjee - KOLKATA -- The world
may be worried about global warming but it has proved to be a boon for
the Kolkata Zoological Gardens' officials. Their tension regarding bird
flu in migratory birds has dissipated to an extent as they believe that
the change in geo-magnetic attraction, making climatic changes erratic
due to global warming, has compelled the birds to change the timing
of their visit to the city over the last few years.
Mr Subir Chowdhury, zoo director, said: "Previously, migratory
birds began their visit from the end of December but over the last few
years, they are only here around the third week of February. This is
Mr Chowdhury said: "Avian flu is a virus that is generally found
in domestic birds. A report suggests that few wild birds have been infected
by the virus the world over," he added. The zoo authorities, however,
are prepared to face any consequences. They have ensured that no chicken
is allowed inside the zoo to be fed to animals, which is otherwise the
practice. A species of leopard whose diet is chicken is being substituted
by buffalo and beef meat. The python that has chicken for its staple
food is hibernating. This, too, is a boon for the zoo authorities.
A zoo official said: "The python will start eating again from the
end of February. If the bird flu scare persists, we will provide rats
and rabbits to the python. Though tigers and lions are not fed chicken
as a rule, sometimes the veterinary doctor prescribes it because of
their appetite loss. In that case, we will give them pork." (01/21/08)
As noted before on this site, the alarmists must continue to to come
up with more and more fantastic tales of catastrophe in order to continue
to receive government funding. One of their self-serving ways of perpetuating
the hysteria is to create tropical diseases in places that are/were
not tropical in the past and blame it on climate change. Insect-borne
diseases like malaria are a favorite. The alarmists claim that malaria,
and the insect that carries it, the mosquito, is a "tropical"
phenomenon but is now appearing in high altitudes and to the northern
latitudes as a result of global warming. The truth is that mosquitos
already exist in the Arctic, and they have for millions of years.
Reiter is a professor of medical entomology at the Pasteur Institute
in Paris, France. He is a member of the World Health Organization Expert
Advisory Committee on Vector Biology and Control. He was an employee
of the Center for Disease Control (Dengue Branch) for 22 years. Professor
Reiter resigned from the IPCC and had to threaten legal action to get
the IPCC to remove his name from their fraudulent "consensus".
by Professor Paul Reiter, Institut Pasteur; Paris - THE IPCC AND
TECHNICAL INFORMATION. EXAMPLE: IMPACTS ON HUMAN HEALTH
1. This evidence is presented to the Select Committee to provide a perspective
on the role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
in compiling and assessing technical information.
2. I am a specialist in the natural history and biology of mosquitoes,
the epidemiology of the diseases they transmit, and strategies for their
control. My entire career, more than thirty years, has been devoted
to this complex subject. My research has included malaria, filariasis,
dengue, yellow fever, St Louis encephalitis and West Nile encephalitis,
and has taken me to many countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe
and the Pacific. I spent 21 years as a Research Scientist for the United
States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At present,
I am a Professor at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, and am responsible
for a new unit of Insects and Infectious Disease.
3. I have been a member of the WHO Expert Advisory Committee on Vector
Biology and Control since 1998, and a consultant for several WHO Scientific
WorkingGroups. I have worked for the World Health Organization (WHO),
the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and other agencies in investigations
of outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases, as well as of AIDS and Ebola
haemorrhagic fever and onchocerciasis. I was a Lead Author of the Health
Section of the US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences
of Climate Variability and Change, and a contributory author of the
IPCC Third Assessment Report (see below). I have been Chairman of the
American Committee of Medical Entomology of the American Society for
Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and of several committees of other professional
4. The comments that follow mainly deal with the Health Chapters of
IPCC Working Group II (Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability) in the
second and third Assessment Reports, in which mosquito-borne diseases
have figured prominently. But first I need to give you some background
on mosquito-borne diseases. I will use malaria as an example.
MALARIA5. I wonder how many of your Lordships are aware of the historical
significance of the Palace of Westminster? I refer to the history of
malaria, not the evolution of government. Are you aware that the entire
area now occupied by the Houses of Parliament was once a notoriously
malarious swamp? And that until the beginning of the 20th century, "ague"
(the original English word for malaria) was a cause of high morbidity
and mortality in parts of the British Isles, particularly in tidal marshes
such as those at Westminster? And that George Washington followed British
Parliamentary precedent by also siting his government buildings in a
malarious swamp! I mention this to dispel any misconception you may
have that malaria is a "tropical" disease.
6. The ague thirteen times in Shakespeare's plays. In Shakespeare's
time, William Harvey dissected cadavers of patients in St Thomas's hospital
who had died of the infection. Harvey was the first to describe the
changes in the consistency of the blood that result in the fatal complications
caused by the infection. At the end of the 17th century, a certain William
Talbor was knighted after he cured the King of an ague using a concoction
of quinine he had developed in the Essex marshes. He later sold his
recipe to Louis XIV, became Chevalier Talbor, and died rich and famous
after curing many of the aristocrats of Europe.
7. All this occurred in a period-roughly from the mid-15th century to
the early 18th century-that climatologists term the "Little Ice
Age". Temperatures were highly variable, but generally much lower
than in the period since. In winter, the sea was often frozen for many
miles offshore, the King could hold parties on the frozen Thames, there
are six records of Eskimos landing their kayaks in Scotland, and the
Viking settlements in Iceland and Greenland became extinct.
8. Despite this remarkably cold period, perhaps the coldest since the
last major Ice Age, malaria was what we would today call a "serious
public health problem" in many parts of the British Isles, and
was endemic, sometimes common throughout Europe as far north as the
Baltic and northern Russia. It began to disappear from many regions
of Europe, Canada and the United States as a result of multiple changes
in agriculture and lifestyle that affected the breeding of the mosquito
and its contact with people, but it persisted in less developed regions
until the mid 20th century. In fact, the most catastrophic epidemic
on record anywhere in the world occurred in the Soviet Union in the
1920s, with a peak incidence of 13 million cases per year, and 600,000
deaths. Transmission was high in many parts of Siberia, and there were
30,000 cases and 10,000 deaths due to falciparum infection (the most
deadly malaria parasite) in Archangel, close to the Arctic circle. Malaria
persisted in many parts of Europe until the advent of DDT. One of the
last malarious countries in Europe was Holland: the WHO finally declared
it malaria-free in 1970.
9. I hope I have convinced you that malaria is not an exclusively tropical
disease, and is not limited by cold winters! Moreover, although temperature
is a factor in its transmission (the parasite cannot develop in the
mosquito unless temperatures are above about 15ºC), there are many
other factors-most of them not associated with weather or climate-that
have a much more significant role. The interaction of these factors
is complex, and defies simple analysis. As one prominent malariologist
put it: "Everything about malaria is so moulded and altered by
local conditions that it becomes a thousand different diseases and epidemiological
puzzles. Like chess, it is played with a few pieces, but is capable
of an infinite variety of situations"
10. The same goes for all mosquito-borne diseases-that is what makes
them so fascinating-and even the climatic factors defy simple analysis.
Thus, in some parts of the world, transmission is mainly associated
with rainy periods, whereas in others, epidemics occur during drought.
In some highland areas, the transmission is highest in the warmest months,
whereas in others, it is restricted to the cold season. In Holland,
malaria was transmitted in winter because the vector-mosquito did not
hibernate, fed both on cattle and on people, and overwintered in houses
and barns, taking an occasional blood meal without laying any eggs (most
female mosquitoes bite in order to obtain nutrition to develop an egg
batch). In the Sudan, low-level transmission occurs during the 10-11
month dry season, when day-temperatures are in the mid-40s. The vector-mosquito
also shelters in houses, feeding occasionally on people and waiting
for the brief rains in order to lay her eggs. Peak transmission occurs
in the cooler rainy season.
IPCC SECOND ASSESSMENT REPORT, WORKING GROUP II. CHAPTER 18. HUMAN POPULATION
11. This chapter appeared at a critical period of the climate change
debate. Fully one third was devoted to mosquito-borne disease, principally
malaria. The chapter had a major impact on public debate, and is quoted
even today, despite the more informed chapter of the Third Assessment
Report (see below).
12. The scientific literature on mosquito-borne diseases is voluminous,
yet the text references in the chapter were restricted to a handful
of articles, many of them relatively obscure, and nearly all suggesting
an increase in prevalence of disease in a warmer climate. The paucity
of information was hardly surprising: not one of the lead authors had
ever written a research paper on the subject! Moreover, two of the authors,
both physicians, had spent their entire career as environmental activists.
One of these activists has published "professional" articles
as an "expert" on 32 different subjects, ranging from mercury
poisoning to land mines, globalization to allergies and West Nile virus
13. Among the contributing authors there was one professional entomologist,
and a person who had written an obscure article on dengue and El Niño,
but whose principal interest was the effectiveness of motor cycle crash
helmets (plus one paper on the health effects of cell phones).
14. The amateurish text of the chapter reflected the limited knowledge
of the 22 authors. Much of the emphasis was on "changes in geographic
range (latitude and altitude) and incidence (intensity and seasonality)
of many vector-borne diseases" as "predicted" by computer
models. Extensive coverage was given to these models, although they
were all based on a highly simplistic model originally developed as
an aid to malaria control campaigns. The authors acknowledged that the
models did not take into account "the influence of local demographic,
socioeconomic, and technical circumstances".
15. Glaring indicators of the ignorance of the authors included the
statement that "although anopheline mosquito species that transmit
malaria do not usually survive where the mean winter temperature drops
below 16-18ºC, some higher latitude species are able to hibernate
in sheltered sites". In truth, many tropical species must survive
in temperature below this limit, and many temperate species can survive
temperatures of -25ºC, even in "relatively exposed" places.
16. The authors also claimed that climate change was already causing
malaria to move to higher altitudes (eg in Rwanda). They quoted information
published by non-specialists that had been roundly denounced in the
scientific literature. In the years that followed, these claims have
repeatedly been made by environmental activists, despite rigorous investigation
and overwhelming counter-evidence by some of the world's top malaria
specialists. Moreover, climate models suggest that temperature changes
will be relatively small in the tropics, and carefully recorded meteorological
data-eg in the Brook-Bond tea estates in Kenya-shows no demonstrable
warming since the 1920s. The IPCC authors even claimed that "a
relatively small increase in winter temperature" in Kenya (!) "could
extend mosquito habitat and enable . . . malaria to reach beyond the
usual altitude limit of around 2,500m to the large malaria free urban
highland populations, eg Nairobi. This despite the fact that in the
1960s the mosquitoes were present above 3,000m and Nairobi is at only
17. A similar claim was made that the dengue vector, Stegomyia aegypti
was once limited to 1,000m in Colombia but had "recently been reported
above 2,200m" One of the authors (the activist with the 32 different
specialities) had recently published a claim (in The Lancet) that dengue
had reached 2,200m "in the past 15 years". I had pointed out
(again in The Lancet) that the publication he was quoting had categorically
stated that dengue was not found above 1,750m. Moreover, although the
maximum altitude of 2,200 m for the mosquito had been established (by
two colleagues of mine) in 1979, this was the first ever investigation
of the issue, so there was no evidence of an increase in altitude! Since
that time, he has abandoned the claim that dengue has moved to higher
altitudes, but still claims (eg in Janurary 2005 at a UNESCO conference
in Paris) that the mosquito has leapt from 1,000 to 2,200m in a matter
of 15 years.
18. In summary, the treatment of this issue by the IPCC was ill-informed,
biased, and scientifically unacceptable. The final "Summary for
Policymakers stated: "Climate change is likely to have wide-ranging
and mostly adverse impacts on human health, with significant loss of
life . . . Indirect effects of climate change include increases in the
potential transmission of vector-borne infectious diseases (eg malaria,
dengue, yellow fever, and some viral encephalitis) resulting from extensions
of the geographical range and season for vector organisms. Projections
by models . . . indicate that the geographical zone of potential malaria
transmission in response to world temperature increases at the upper
part of the IPCC-projected range (3-5ºC by 2100) would increase
from approximately 45 per cent of the world population to approximately
60% by the latter half of the next century. This could lead to potential
increases in malaria incidence (on the order of 50-80 million additional
annual cases, relative to an assumed global background total of 500
million cases), primarily in tropical, subtropical, and less well-protected
19. These confident pronouncements, untrammelled by details of the complexity
of the subject and the limitations of these models, were widely quoted
as "the consensus of 1,500 of the world's top scientists"
(occasionally the number quoted was 2,500). This clearly did not apply
to the chapter on human health, yet at the time, eight out of nine major
web sites that I checked placed these diseases at the top of the list
of adverse impacts of climate change, quoting the IPCC.
20. The issue of consensus is key to understanding the limitations of
IPCC pronouncements. Consensus is the stuff of politics, not of science.
Science proceeds by observation, hypothesis and experiment. Professional
scientists rarely draw firm conclusions from a single article, but consider
its contribution in the context of other publications and their own
experience, knowledge, and speculations. The complexity of this process,
and the uncertainties involved, are a major obstacle to meaningful understanding
of scientific issues by non-scientists.
21. In the age of information, popular knowledge of scientific issues-particularly
issues of health and the environment-is awash in a tide of misinformation,
much of it presented in the "big talk" of professional scientists.
Alarmist activists operating in well-funded advocacy groups have a lead
role in creating this misinformation. In many cases, they manipulate
public perceptions with emotive and fiercely judgmental "scientific"
pronouncements, adding a tone of danger and urgency to attract media
coverage. Their skill in promoting notions of scientific "fact"
sidesteps the complexities of the issues involved, and is a potent influence
in education, public opinion and the political process. These notions
are often re-enforced by attention to peer-reviewed scientific articles
that appear to support their pronouncements, regardless of whether these
articles are widely endorsed by the relevant scientific community. Scientists
who challenge these alarmists are rarely given priority by the media,
and are often presented as "skeptics".
22. The democratic process requires elected representatives to respond
to the concerns and fears generated in this process. Denial is rarely
an effective strategy, even in the face of preposterous claims. The
pragmatic option is to express concern, create new regulations, and
increase funding for research. Lawmakers may also endorse the advocacy
groups, giving positive feedback to their cause. Whatever the response,
political activists-not scientists-are often the most persuasive cohort
in science-based political issues, including the public funding of scientific
23. In reality, a genuine concern for mankind and the environment demands
the inquiry, accuracy and skepticism that are intrinsic to authentic
science. A public that is unaware of this is vulnerable to abuse. After
careful review of the pronouncements the Health chapter in Working Group
II the IPCC Second Assessment, it is my opinion that that they were
not based on authentic science.
IPCC THIRD ASSESSMENT REPORT, WORKING GROUP II. CHAPTER 18. HUMAN POPULATION
24. The third assessment report listed more than 65 lead authors, only
one of which-a colleague of mine-was an established authority on vector-borne
disease. I was invited to serve a contributory author on the health
25. My colleague and I repeatedly found ourselves at loggerheads with
persons who insisted on making authoritative pronouncements, although
they had little or no knowledge of our speciality. At the time, we were
experiencing similar frustration as Lead Authors of Health Section of
the US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate
Variability and Change (US Global Change Research Program). After much
effort and many fruitless discussions, I decided to concentrate on the
USGCCRP and resigned from the IPCC project. My resignation was accepted,
but in a first draft I found that my name was still listed. I requested
its removal, but was told it would remain because "I had contributed".
It was only after strong insistence that I succeeded in having it removed.
26. Our deliberations in the USGCCRP are "public domain",
ie they can be accessed by any member of the public. This is not the
case for the IPCC. The final documents of the USGCCRP included clear
statements of the complexity of the subject, and the limitations of
models as predictors. We fought hard for the language of the document,
and prevailed against fierce opposition, even to the point of insisting
on the inclusion of a large map that clearly showed how dengue in Texas
was limited by lifestyle, not climate.
27. My colleague was a top civil servant. He felt obliged to sit the
IPCC project out, and to attempting to force a compromise. In a sense
I believe he (we) succeeded. The 2001 report is much more comprehensive,
more accurate, and gives a much better perspective of the diseases and
their dynamics. The selection of references was biased towards models
that predict an increase in range and prevalence of mosquito-borne disease,
but there were refreshingly frank statements on the fundamental limitations
of such models. Thus, the summary for policymakers made the following
statement: "Many vector-, food-, and water-borne infectious diseases
are known to be sensitive to changes in climatic conditions. From results
of most predictive model studies, there is medium to high confidence
that, under climate change scenarios, there would be a net increase
in the geographic range of potential transmission of malaria and dengue-two
vector-borne infections each of which currently impinge on 40-50 per
cent of the world population. Within their present ranges, these and
many other infectious diseases would tend to increase in incidence and
seasonality-although regional decreases would occur in some infectious
diseases. In all cases, however, actual disease occurrence is strongly
influenced by local environmental conditions, socioeconomic circumstances,
and public health infrastructure".
28. Transmission models are not a forecasting device. They are merely
a means for exploring the interaction of a selection of relevant parameters.
Moreover, there is no realistic way to test them in nature, nor any
means to determine the "confidence limits" of their "predictions".
No statistical evidence was given of the basis for these confidence
limits; they appear to have been a purely subjective judgement, with
no clear evidence as to why we should expect an "increase in incidence
and seasonality" in the "present ranges" of malaria and
dengue with "medium to high confidence". In my opinion, therefore,
the sentence beginning: In all cases . . . should have come before any
mention of the models, together with a clear statement that the models
were purely speculative in nature.
29. Thus, despite the improved quality of the Third Assessment Report,
the dominant message was that climate change will result in a marked
increase in vector-borne disease, and that this may already be happening.
The IPCC message has been repeated in the publications of other Agencies,
often with inaccuracies that appear to have their origin in the Second
Assessment Report. Thus the US Environmental Protection Agency persists
in making the statement: `Global warming may also increase the risk
of some infectious diseases, particularly those diseases that only appear
in warm areas. Diseases that are spread by mosquitoes and other insects
could become more prevalent if warmer temperatures enabled those insects
to become established farther north; such "vector-borne" diseases
include malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis'.
30. Activist organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund, continue
to quote the IPCC statement that malaria can only be transmitted in
regions where winter temperatures are above 16ºC. Several such
organizations even claim that isolated cases of malaria in the USA and
Canada during "particularly warm and humid periods" are compatible
with the IPCC projections.
IPCC FOURTH ASSESSMENT REPORT, WORKING GROUP II. CHAPTER 18. HUMAN POPULATION
31. It will be interesting to see how the health chapter of the fourth
report is written. Only one of the lead authors has ever been a lead
author, and neither has ever published on mosquito-borne disease. Only
one of the contributing authors has an extensive bibliography in the
field of human health. He is a specialist in industrial health, and
all his publications are in Russian. Several of the others have never
published any articles at all.
32. The list of authors is of personal interest: I was nominated by
the US Government to serve as a Lead Author. Nomination is a formal
process, involving government officers at the highest level.
33. When I contacted IPCC personnel (at the Meteorological Office in
Exeter) to see whether my nomination had been accepted, I initially
received the message: "The IPCC received over 2000 government nominations
during this process and most, such as yours, were of a very high standard.
Unfortunately the IPCC Working Group Two Bureau did not pick you to
be an author, although all nominations were scrutinised and assessed".
34. I replied with a question about the two Lead Authors that had been
selected: "It is often stated that the IPCC represents the worlds
top scientists. I copy to you the bibliographies of (the two lead authors),
as downloaded from MEDLINE. You will observe that (the first) has never
written a single article, and (the second) has only authored five articles.
Can these two really be considered "Lead authors" with experience,
representative of the world's top scientists and specialists in human
35. I also pointed out that one Lead Author is a "hygienist",
the other is a specialist in fossil faeces, and both have been co-authors
on publications by environmental activists. I received the reply: "The
selection criteria for IPCC Authors are defined in the "Principles
and Procedures Governing IPCC Work" available on the IPCC website
(These `Principles and Procedures' have been discussed, amended and
agreed by Governments at several IPCC Plenaries)".
36. I pursued the question further, asking: (1) Who selects the Working
Group/Task Force Bureau Co-Chairs? (2) Who are the Working Group/Task
Force Bureau Co-Chairs for Group II, Health Impacts? Where is the Working
Group/Task Force Bureau? (3) What are the criteria they use for identifying
37. I received two replies, the simplest of which read: "Thank
you for your continued interest in the IPCC. The brief answer to your
question below is `governments'. It is the governments of the world
who make up the IPCC, define its remit, and direction. The way in which
this is done is defined in the IPCC Principles and Procedures, which
have been agreed by governments. Please refer to my emails of 2 and
3 September for details on how to access that information".
38. In all the rules that were quoted, there was no mention of research
experience, bibliography, citation statistics or any other criteria
that would define the quality of "the worlds top scientists".
39. After all this correspondence, quite unexpectedly, I receive another
message an IPCC person in Exeter: "I was looking today at the Access
database which we use to manage the government nominations for the Fourth
Assessment. I thought I would take the chance to check on your name.
It turns out that you were not nominated for the Health chapter. You
were nominated for the regional chapters, the four synthesizing chapters
(17-20), and chapters 1 and 2".
40. I contacted Washington. They sent me the full set of official documents
sent by executives of the Federal Government. There was absolutely no
doubt: I had been nominated as a Lead Author for the Health chapter,
and for several other issues that involved human health.
41. The natural history of mosquito-borne diseases is complex, and the
interplay of climate, ecology, mosquito biology, and many other factors
defies simplistic analysis. The recent resurgence of many of these diseases
is a major cause for concern, but it is facile to attribute this resurgence
to climate change, or to use models based on temperature to "predict"
future prevalence. In my opinion, the IPCC has done a disservice to
society by relying on "experts" who have little or no knowledge
of the subject, and allowing them to make authoritative pronouncements
that are not based on sound science. In truth, the principal determinants
of transmission of malaria and many other mosquito-borne diseases are
politics, economics and human activities. A creative and organized application
of resources is urgently required to control these diseases, regardless
of future climate change.
31 March 2005
85 In 2004, 10 of these specialists published a plea entitled "A
call for accuracy" in The Lancet. Neverthess, environmental activists
continue to make this claim, undeterred by the evidence.
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