Carbon Credit Watch

Preoccupation with climate change harming efforts to control malaria

Lawrence Solomon

May 20, 2010

Global warming is all-but irrelevant to the spread of malaria, according to a study released today in Nature [PDF]. In contrast, global warming policies based on the belief that global warming promotes malaria are harming efforts to eradicate malaria.

“Climate change is, in our view, an unwelcome distraction from the main issues,” according to Oxford University’s Peter Gething, the study’s lead researcher. Gething notes that malaria has been steadily decreasing while global temperatures increased. Instead of focussing on a non-issue, Gething believes, malaria-fighting resources should be directed to measures needed to maximize the progress in fighting this disease.

Gething’s comments, reported today by the BBC, supports the long-standing views of the Pasteur Institute and other prestigious malaria research bodies, all of whom have long been critical of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 1995 report. This report fostered misinformation that then sent malaria prevention off on a wild goose chase.

To decide where to intervene to prevent the spread of malaria, researchers use models that predict where their efforts are best focussed. Models based on climate change redirected disease-prevention efforts away from regions where they were most needed to address the true health needs of Africa.

In a growing recognition of the damage from the IPCC’s 1995 report, the Economist magazine and others in the media are now identifying the 1995 report for its harmful role. In its 2007 report, the IPCC walked back its earlier findings but the damage, many researchers believe, continued.

The Nature study reports that malaria intensity has declined steadily over the last century while global temperatures rose, giving the lie to the claims that higher temperatures will enable malaria to spread. The verdict is neatly summarized by the editor of Nature, in the title of his summary of the study: “Climate no danger to malaria control.”

The Nature paper, entitled Climate change and the global malaria recession, is authored by a team from the UK, the US and Kenya.

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute and author of The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.

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