Gore again, this time it is about mosquitoes, malaria, and elevation. Some history checking by mosquito epidemiologist Paul Reiter reveals he’s wrong about Nairobi. Turns out that some species can live as high as 10,000 feet. Even as far back as 1927 in this letter to Time Magazine, people knew of mosquitoes at the snow line. A 1960 study shows mosquitoes in the California Sierra Nevada mountains and another shows mosquitoes in the mountains of Africa. Of course those aren’t malaria carrying anopheles mosquitoes, but I’ll point out that Gore was not specific about which mosquitoes were “climbing”. And if there is indeed a mosquito borne malaria problem in Nairobi, there’s this contradictory evidence: In a presentation during the 8th International Conference on Urban Health, held in Nairobi 18–23 October 2009, it was stated that of nearly one thousand Nairobi residents tested, none were positive for malaria.
There has been a resurgence of malaria in Kenya though. It may have something to do with this: Kenyan scientists are embroiled in a deepening controversy over whether Kenya should lift a ban on the pesticide DDT in a bid to reduce deaths from malaria.
UPDATE: E.M. Smith writes in comments:
If you look at this page:
you will find a listing for the native Anopheles freeborni listed as a malaria vector and with habitat that ranges at least up to 6000 feet.
From the UK Spectator by Paul Reiter
Al Gore has made bold claims that climate change is aiding the spread of insect-borne diseases. The science does not support him, says Paul Reiter
Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, was a masterpiece. Like an elder brother to all humanity, he patiently explained the familiar litany of disasters — droughts, floods, hurricanes, sea-level rise and the rest — spiced with heartrending personal stories: his baby son’s near-fatal accident, the agony of losing a sister to lung cancer. It was a science lecture crafted by Hollywood.
In his book — the version for adults, not the one for schoolchildren — he even included a colour photograph of a corpse, a young man, floating face downward, drowned by Hurricane Katrina. I wonder whether the dead boy’s family were consulted.
I am a scientist, not a climatologist, so I don’t dabble in climatology. My speciality is the epidemiology of mosquito-borne diseases. As the film began, I knew Mr Gore would get to mosquitoes: they’re a favourite with climate-change activists. When he got to them, it was all I feared.
In his serious voice, Mr Gore presented a nifty animation, a band of little mosquitoes fluttering their way up the slopes of a snow-capped mountain, and he repeated the old line: Nairobi used to be ‘above the mosquito line, the limit at which mosquitoes can survive, but now…’ Those little mosquitoes kept climbing.
The truth? Nairobi means ‘the place of cool waters’ in the Masai language. The town grew up around a camp, set up in 1899 during the construction of a railway, the famous ‘Lunatic Express’. There certainly was water there — and mosquitoes. From the start, the place was plagued with malaria, so much so that a few years later doctors tried to have the whole town moved to a healthier place. By 1927, the disease had become such a plague in the ‘White Highlands’ that £40,000 (equivalent to about £350,000 today) was earmarked for malaria control. The authorities understood the root of the problem: forest clearance had created the perfect breeding places for mosquitoes. The disease was present as high as 2,500m above sea level; the mosquitoes were observed at 3,000m. And Nairobi? 1,680m.
Read the rest of the story at the Spectator