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The scares: The World Health Organization announced on 7 April 2008 that millions of Asians could face poverty, disease and hunger as a result of rising temperatures and increased rainfall. The WHO’s regional director for Asia said that malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition and floods cause an estimated 150,000 deaths annually in the region. A WHO adviser on malaria and other parasitic diseases added climate change in combination with unchecked human development has contributed to the problem.
Scare 1: Mosquito-borne diseases. The WHO’s spokesman said malaria-carrying mosquitoes represent the clearest telltale sign that global warming has begun to impact human health: they are now found in cooler climates such as South Korea and the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Warmer weather means that mosquitoes’ breeding cycles are shortening, allowing them to multiply at a much faster rate, posing an even greater threat of disease, he told reporters in Manila.
The exceptionally high number in Asia of dengue cases, which are also spread by mosquitoes, could be due to rising temperatures and rainfall, but Omi said more study is needed to establish connection between climate change and dengue. “Without urgent action through changes in human lifestyle, the effects of this phenomenon on the global climate system could be abrupt or even irreversible, sparing no country and causing more frequent and more intense heat waves, rain storms, tropical cyclones and surges in sea level," he said.
Scare 2: Rising sea levels. In the Marshall Islands and South Pacific island nations, rising sea levels have already penetrated low-lying areas, submerging arable lands and causing migrations to New Zealand or Australia, he said.
Scare 3: Malnutrition. The WHO spokesman said poorer countries with meager resources and weak health systems will be hit hardest because malnutrition is already widespread, with the young, women and the elderly at particular risk.
Scare 4: Climate variability. He said unusual, unexpected climate patterns — too much rain or too little — have an impact on food production, especially irrigation crops such as rice, and can cause unemployment, economic upheavals and political unrest.
The truth: The WHO’s announcement appears to have been timed deliberately to coincide with the launch of Al Gore’s “$300 million” advertising campaign to whip up fear of “global warming”. It lacks any scientific basis whatsoever, and seems to be yet another of the numerous rent-seeking exercises in which public authorities worldwide are indulging on the basis of the half-understood and flagrantly-exaggerated climate scare.
The truth about malaria. Malaria is not, repeat not, a tropical disease. The largest outbreak in the past 100 years was in the 1920s and 1930s in Siberia – not noted for its tropical climate. Some 13 million people were infected, of whom 600,000 died, 30,000 of them in Arkhangelsk, Russia’s port on the Arctic Circle. The malaria mosquito, according to Professor Paul Reiter, the world’s foremost expert, is capable of surviving in temperatures as low as –25 degrees Celsius (–13 Fahrenheit). Its only dependence upon temperature is that, during the breeding season, it requires an ambient temperature of at least 15 degrees C (59 F). Since there has been no increase in mean global surface temperatures for the past ten years, the area of the planet where the temperature reaches 15 degrees C during the breeding season has not increased: so there is no possible scientific basis for saying that the current high malaria mortality owes anything to “global warming”.
The true reason why some 850,000 people a year – most of them children – die of malaria is the WHO’s worldwide ban on the use of the one effective agent against the anopheles mosquito: DDT. The acronym “DDT” does not appear in the IPCC’s ramblings about malaria: yet the ban on is the real reason why malaria has spread. Before DDT was banned a third of a century ago, it had proven so effective at killing malaria mosquitoes that the worldwide annual number of malaria deaths had fallen to just 50,000. After the ban was introduced at the instigation of the Democrat administration of John F. Kennedy in the US under pressure from the same environmentalists who are now peddling the “global warming” scare, malaria deaths rapidly rose to more than 1 million per year. It was only on 15 September 2006 that Dr. Arata Kochi of the WHO lifted the ban. He said:
“Quite often in this field politics comes first and science second. We must take a position based on the science and the data.”
However, many countries refuse to use DDT even for interior spraying, where it cannot cause harm to any creature except the mosquito. It is entirely harmless to humans, who can eat it daily by the tablespoonful without any ill effects. The disastrous DDT ban killed approximately 40 million children before the WHO finally got round to ending the ban and recommending DDT. It is an excellent example of the reason why it is necessary to get the science right rather than acting upon the incompetent and exaggerated distortions of science that are routinely peddled by the lavishly-funded but politically-motivated environmental movement.
Likewise, there is no basis whatsoever in science for supposing that warmer weather will cause dengue fever to spread. End of scare 1.
The truth about rising sea levels. The IPCC’s 2007 report, confronted with evidence that sea level is not rising very fast, had to cut its high-end estimate of sea-level rise to 2100 by one-third, from 3 feet to under 2 feet. Its best estimate is that sea level will rise by just 1 ft 5 in 100 years, compared with 8 inches in the 20th century and a mean rate of 4 feet per century throughout the 10,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age.
Professor Niklas Moerner, the world’s foremost expert on sea level, says that even the IPCC’s central estimate is a baseless exaggeration. He sees no reason to expect a sea-level rise to 2100 of more than the 20 cm (8 inches) observed in the 20th century. The 20th-century rate of sea-level rise was one-sixth of the mean centennial rate. More than 90% of the world’s ice is in Antarctica, and most of the Antarctic has cooled throughout the past 50 years, with a progressive accumulation of ice in most parts of the continent. Some 5% of the world’s ice is in the vast Greenland ice sheet, whose mean thickness grew by 2 inches per year between 1993 and 2003 (Johannesen et al., 2005). The remainder of the world’s ice is in mountain glaciers, which began receding in 1880, long before the human effect on climate could have been significant, and have receded at a near-linear rate since. In the cold winter of 2007, many glaciers worldwide began advancing.
The main reason for imagining that warmer weather might cause sea level to rise has nothing to do with ice, therefore. It is thermosteric expansion of sea water that is the largest contributor to sea-level rise today. Yet this expansion can only occur if the oceans are warming, which they are not (Lyman et al., 2006; etc.). So there is no scientific basis for the WHO’s assertion that anthropogenic “global warming” is causing sea level to rise. In the Pacific atolls which are the poster-children for this particular scare, the corals are capable of growing towards the light at ten times the rate of sea-level rise that is projected by the IPCC, so there is no reason to suppose that they will be inundated. It is, after all, not an accident that, after 400 feet of sea level rise since the last Ice Age, all the atolls are exactly at or just above sea level. End of scare 2.
The truth about malnutrition. There has never been a famine in a country that is fully and functionally democratic in the Western sense. Famine and malnutrition are caused by one thing and one thing alone: bad government. The WHO is a division of the UN, and the UN is in effect a dictators’ club, so the WHO cannot say that it is bad government that is causing malnutrition. So, in common with public authorities worldwide, it lays the blame for what are, at root, failures of governmental administration upon “global warming”.
There is no scientific basis for the notion that “global warming” will increase malnutrition or famine by reducing the world’s food supply. As the world warms, the climate becomes generally wetter, providing irrigation of crops in areas that have not been farmed for centuries. In the southern Sahara, for instance, some 300,000 square kilometres of desert have given place to vegetation in the past 30 years. If the weather warms significantly, vast areas of currently barren tundra in Siberia, Alaska, and northern Canada will become available for cultivation, vastly increasing the world’s usable agricultural land. Warmer weather has always improved the growth of crops, and will always do so. End of scare 3.
The truth about climate variability. The climate varies naturally, has always done so, and will always do so. Even the excitable IPCC says that no individual extreme-weather event such as those so luridly described by the WHO can be ascribed to “global warming”. The principal reason for the increase in the scale of climate-related disasters is not the increase in extreme-weather events: for there has been no such increase. The WHO mentions typhoons and tropical cyclones, but there has been no increase in hurricane frequency or intensity for 100 years, and the frequency of severe typhoons and tropical cyclones has decreased throughout the past 30 years. There is no basis either in theory or in observation for the notion that the climate has become any more unpredictable than it has always been. End of scare 4.