Could Public Health Benefits Make Combating Climate Change Free?

The bit of nonsense excerpted below is actually fairly typical of medical writing. They seem incapable of looking at the bottom line. They exult over a beneficial effect of something and ignore other effects that may more than cancel out the benefit. In this case it may be true that some parasites would spread more widely with global warming but the big seasonal killer is winter not summer -- so if winters became milder many deaths would be avoided at that time. And winter deaths show a considerable excess over summer deaths so the health benefits of a warmer world would be large

South Africa—Former entomologist Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum of the World Health Organization worries about nosebleeds more than the average person. That's because he's one of the estimated 12 million people worldwide afflicted with leishmaniasis—a potentially fatal parasitic disease characterized most often by lesions on the skin and/or mucus membranes—caused by the bite of a sandfly.

As the team leader for climate change and health at WHO and an environmental epidemiologist, Campbell-Lendrum is also in a position to worry more about how global warming is going to affect such so-called vector-borne diseases. "Is climate change going to bring malaria back to the U.S. and Europe? It's not," he asserts. "Climate change is eroding the environmental determinants of health: water, food, increasing disease," he says. Already WHO research suggests that current warming of global average temperatures of just under one degree Celsius is responsible for an additional 150,000 deaths per year, largely due to agricultural failures and diarrheal disease in developing countries. "All the inputs are on the conservative side," says Campbell-Lendrum, who helped come up with the number.

As a result, WHO—and a consortium of other public health organizations—declared climate change to be among the most pressing emerging health issues in the world at the recent climate negotiations here in South Africa. Consider some of the changes that are already taking place: extreme heat waves, such as the one in Europe in 2003 that killed 46,000 people; changes in bacterial diseases due to water contamination and a quickening of bacterial growth rates in warmer temperatures; worsening levels of ground-level ozone, otherwise known as smog, which is responsible for worsening asthma and heart attacks (among other health effects); changes in pollen making allergies worse; changes in vector-borne diseases; as well as droughts, floods and other forms of extreme weather such as the 12 natural disasters in the U.S. this year that caused at least $1 billion in damage.


1 comment:

  1. "but the big seasonal killer is winter not summer".....

    Not in countries that have the highest fatality rates. I don't think many people die of the cold in sub-saharan africa.


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