Claim: Climate change will slow China's progress in reducing infectious diseases

From Emory University:

Climate change will slow China’s progress in reducing infectious diseases

The study found that by 2030, changes to the global climate could delay China’s progress reducing diarrheal and vector-borne diseases by up to seven years.

China has made significant progress increasing access to tap water and sanitation services, and has sharply reduced the burden of waterborne and water-related infectious diseases over the past two decades. However, in a study published in the latest edition of Nature Climate Change, researchers from Emory University found that climate change will blunt China’s efforts at further reducing these diseases in the decades to come.

The study found that by 2030, changes to the global climate could delay China’s progress reducing diarrheal and vector-borne diseases by up to seven years. That is, even as China continues to invest in water and sanitation infrastructure, and experience rapid urbanization and social development, the benefits of these advances will be slowed in the presence of climate change.

Using data drawn from multiple infectious disease surveillance systems in China, the study, led by Justin V. Remais, PhD, associate professor of environmental health at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, provides the first estimates of the burden of disease due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene in a rapidly developing society that is subjected to a changing climate.

Remais’ team, including colleagues at the University of Florida, the University of Colorado, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, found that changes to global temperature can substantially delay China’s heretofore rapid progress towards decreasing the burden of diarrheal and vector-borne diseases. The authors accounted for changes in China’s population structure, the ongoing migration of China’s population, and the country’s rapid investment in water and sanitation infrastructure.

“Our results demonstrate how climate change can lead to a significant health burden, even in settings where the total burden of disease is falling owing to social and economic development,” says Remais. “Delays in development are especially concerning for China, which is investing heavily in improving health even as the impact of those investments is being countered by the effect of climate change.”

Remais and his colleagues present several policy options to limit the impact of climate change on China’s infectious disease burden. If China and other major global greenhouse gas emitters take steps to reduce their emissions, the delay in China’s development will be shorter, falling to as low as two years. Likewise, if China ramps up its investments in water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure, the development delay imposed by climate change can be reduced to as low as eight months.

“Our findings show that there are clear ways that China, and the global community, can limit these health effects of climate change, both by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by investing in health through water and sanitation improvements,” says Remais. “Even societies experiencing rapid improvements will be impacted by climate change, and our study highlights how delays in development come at a large cost, and can be avoided if we act now to reduce emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases.”

The authors point out that their analysis focused on only one family of health impacts associated with climate change, and thus the true development delay imposed by climate change on China is likely much larger. They say that policymakers in China must be aware of the health risks—and associated costs—that come with continued increases in greenhouse gas emissions, both within China and globally.

The study:

Delays in reducing waterborne and water-related infectious diseases in China under climate change,’ was supported in part by the Emory Global Health Institute.


Despite China’s rapid progress in improving water, sanitation and hygiene (WSH) access, in 2011, 471 million people lacked access to improved sanitation and 401 million to household piped water. As certain infectious diseases are sensitive to changes in both climate and WSH conditions, we projected impacts of climate change on WSH-attributable diseases in China in 2020 and 2030 by coupling estimates of the temperature sensitivity of diarrhoeal diseases and three vector-borne diseases, temperature projections from global climate models, WSH-infrastructure development scenarios, and projected demographic changes. By 2030, climate change is projected to delay China’s rapid progress towards reducing WSH-attributable infectious disease burden by 8–85 months. This development delay summarizes the adverse impact of climate change on WSH-attributable infectious diseases in China, and can be used in other settings where a significant health burden may accompany future changes in climate even as the total burden of disease falls owing to non-climate reasons.

For the full study, please visit:

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November 20, 2014 12:15 pm

What a load of absolute garbage.
Name the infectious disease that is “sensitive” to a “global average” temperature fluctuation of plus/minus 0.1C a decade.
It doesn’t exist. Halfwits.

Reply to  addinall
November 21, 2014 2:54 am

Utter speculative drivel. Garbage of the worst kind.
Here is global malaria in our ‘warming world’ since the end of the Little Ice Age.

Abstract – 2010
Climate change and the global malaria recession
“…observed decreasing global trends in both its endemicity and geographic extent. Second, the proposed future effects of rising temperatures on endemicity are at least one order of magnitude smaller than changes observed since about 1900 and up to two orders of magnitude smaller than those that can be achieved by the effective scale-up of key control measures. Predictions of an intensification of malaria in a warmer world, based on extrapolated empirical relationships or biological mechanisms, must be set against a context of a century of warming that has seen marked global declines in the disease and a substantial weakening of the global correlation between malaria endemicity and climate.”
Abstract – 2001
Climate change and mosquito-borne disease.
…Elementary models suggest that higher global temperatures will enhance their transmission rates and extend their geographic ranges. However, the histories of three such diseases–malaria, yellow fever, and dengue–reveal that climate has rarely been the principal determinant of their prevalence or range; human activities and their impact on local ecology have generally been much more significant….

Reply to  Jimbo
November 21, 2014 2:57 am

I read diarrhea. Here is the solution. I think the Chinese will be able to afford this with improved economic development.

November 20, 2014 12:17 pm

However, in a study published in the latest edition of Nature Climate Change…

I’ll come back to this later.
The only value in Nature Climate Change is as a treatment for diarrhea.

November 20, 2014 12:25 pm

What absolute nonsense. Tropical Singapore, mostly ethnic Chinese living just 200 miles from the equator, have safe tap water.
If the water gets a little warm, you just need to add extra chlorine.

Marilynn in NorCal
Reply to  Eric Worrall
November 20, 2014 3:52 pm

Chlorine is not the best idea. Better than water-borne disease, but has its own health hazard. It also cannot be trusted to treat cholera tainted water (as well as some other disease organisms). The first step towards safe water is improved infrastructure. Separating the water source from effluence is an obvious measure, but one that eluded Europeans for centuries. It wasn’t until mid 19th century that London passed legislation to require filtration and finally moved the water intakes on the Thames ABOVE the sewage outlets. Sheesh…
For hiking and camping we have a filtration system that works for anything that one might encounter in the wilderness. However, when I go to Haiti or some other “3rd world” area (like Detroit, haha) I bring a Steri-pen, which uses ultraviolet to kill micro-organisms. (I didn’t have to use it in Haiti, though, because following the 2010 cholera outbreak trucks deliver potable water to Port-au-Prince households.)

Reply to  Marilynn in NorCal
November 20, 2014 11:14 pm

The health hazard of water chlorination has been overblown by Greenpeace and other “green” groups. The outbreak of cholera in Peru a few decades ago was because of the chlorination was stopped thanks to this kind of rumors. The advantage of chlorination is that it works all the way to the tap, even with leaky, sometimes under pressured lines (as was the case in Peru), while other methods (UV, ozonation, silver ions) only work on the spot…
But if you are sure that your network is short, 100% tight and there is a high use and water quality is frequently tested, you don’t need chlorination, except in cases of emergency. Water tastes much better without chlorine…

James Strom
Reply to  Eric Worrall
November 21, 2014 1:32 pm

Singapore is also closer to the Equator than China; presumably it is already experiencing all the dreaded effects of a warmer climate.

Mark from the Midwest
November 20, 2014 12:34 pm

Generally the rate of infectious disease attributed to water borne bacteria is a binary problem, not a monotonic one. With proper infrastructure water borne disease goes to near zero. How does climate change prevent China from building water and sewer infrastructure?

Mike Smith
November 20, 2014 12:38 pm

If we took the billions currently being spent at the AGW alter and invested it in clean water, sanitation and vaccination programs for those who currently lack them, we might actually make real progress in reducing third world infectious diseases..
The authors of this paper disgust me.Shame on them for publishing this evil propaganda.

Reply to  Mike Smith
November 22, 2014 12:45 am

This is the real shame in all of this CAGW propaganda. Millions dying or sick because of the misdirection of funds.

November 20, 2014 12:59 pm

Being a lowly high school graduate, my take is that college grads need to publish in order to move up the ranks.
There used to be a popular radio host in Chicago, who would say he was embarrassed when reading his previous “papers”.
It’s publish or perish, apparently.

Reply to  u.k.(us)
November 20, 2014 1:04 pm

Publish or Perish?
Death or Dishonour?
Advocating using resources to counter climate change instead of something more useful; chlorinating water, covering sewers, even researching antibiotics – is not honourable.
Perish before Publish.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  MCourtney
November 20, 2014 2:13 pm

Hi, Perhaps what we need is a new Senator Proxmire and his Golden Fleece award. He was one of the good Dems. It would be nice to once again have these people held up for the wastrels that they are.

Reply to  MCourtney
November 20, 2014 2:25 pm

How about we start with reliable electricity, and some sorta education.
The rest will follow.
We’re an inquisitive bunch.

November 20, 2014 12:59 pm

Nature Climate Change set up to promote AGW and a body that is dead meat without it. Hence its addiction to articles that promote ‘the cause ‘ no matter how poor the actual science .

Robert W Turner
November 20, 2014 1:05 pm

“found that changes to global temperature can substantially delay China’s heretofore rapid progress towards decreasing the burden of diarrheal and vector-borne diseases.”
I think reading that gave me a disease. Any doctors here? Is stupidity contagious?

Greg Woods
Reply to  Robert W Turner
November 20, 2014 1:30 pm

Don’t worry. Stupidity is genetic. There no known cure.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
November 22, 2014 12:48 am

That paragraph is sure to give you diarrhea!

November 20, 2014 1:13 pm

This makes no sense from a fact based perspective. And the range of alleged impacts they offer- 8 – 84 months, is wide enough to include nearly anything.

November 20, 2014 1:13 pm

I get more accurate predictions from fortune cookies.

Evan Jones
Reply to  vounaki
November 20, 2014 3:49 pm

Favorite fortune: “That wasn’t chicken.”

Mike the Morlock
November 20, 2014 1:14 pm

Hello all, sigh I don’t think you can make predictions like this without economic inputs. What will govern China’s Social health progress is economic growth Not China’s commitment to CO2 reduction.Restiratory risks excuded due to real polutants.
So who are the economist amongest the authers?

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Mike the Morlock
November 20, 2014 1:28 pm

So who are the economists amongst the authors? Must learn to spell.

Bruce Cobb
November 20, 2014 1:26 pm

No, but spending $billions fighting a non-existent threat could have that effect. Fortunately for China, they are smarter than that.

Björn from sweden
November 20, 2014 1:32 pm

If something is good; climate change will always make it happen less.
If something is bad; climate change will always make it happen more.
I think we have stumbled upon a new law of nature.
Maybe it should be added to the laws of thermodynamics?

Reply to  Björn from sweden
November 20, 2014 2:18 pm

Well maybe not the laws of thermodynamics, but certainly to the Bible or other religious text. For example now we know it wasn’t Moses that caused plagues to fall on Egypt and to part the waters it was climate change. Of course climate change in the Garden of Eden also was a disaster, with only apples surviving climate change we all know what happened next…

Björn from sweden
Reply to  Alx
November 20, 2014 2:30 pm

I see your point, but this is SCIENCE…….
Climatology and medicine, and the money behind it´them, threaten to derail all of science or at least the trust in science. When trust for science is no more, it opens up for decisions based on superstition, prophecy, rumors, fear etc. This abuse of the scientific process is actually very dangerous, science is humanitys only protection against collective madness (which is the natural mindset of human societies).

DD More
November 20, 2014 1:34 pm

Progress is separating the pigs and chickens and draining the swamp in the case of flu viruses.
NIH report – Birds are the reservoir for all known influenza A subtypes; and novel influenza viruses can emerge from birds and infect mammalian species including humans. Because swine are susceptible to infection with both avian and human influenza viruses, novel reassortant influenza viruses can be generated in this mammalian species by reassortment of influenza viral segments leading to the “mixing vessel” theory.

Joe Crawford
November 20, 2014 1:50 pm

I don’t think I would be able to show my face in public if I published something this ludicrous. I honestly think the last of their marbles have left the ring.

Reply to  Joe Crawford
November 20, 2014 2:49 pm

You don’t have to. Publishing suffices.

November 20, 2014 1:55 pm

I am amazed at such “accuracy” in their study….if China mitigates “carbon” pollution, it can reduce the time frames from 7 years to 2 years for solutions to infectious disease….WOW, truly wonderful scientific work! All this from computer models and satellite measurements of earth’s temperature—which is really a brightness measurement—I am in awe…..

Brad Rich
November 20, 2014 2:10 pm

What nonsense can exceed this? It’s as if sixth graders got an assignment to mention the words “climate” and “change” fifty times in their two-page theme, so they do it. Statisticians? Not sixth graders? What’s the difference?

November 20, 2014 2:12 pm

Is this a joke???
They mention the drivers of increased disease due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene in a rapidly developing society. They also mention changes in China’s population, and increasing migration of China’s expanding population.
All valid reasons for concern and worth addressing as the article states China is doing.
But then out of left field comes climate change with a range of negative impact of 8 months to 7 years. Hmmm, up to 7 years..I guess the margin of error is +- 3-4 years. Which leads me to conclude the impact of climate change on infectious deisease in 2030 is going to be give or take 2 hours.

November 20, 2014 2:18 pm

This tendency of CAGW to view every effect of climate change as “bad” reinforces my view that CAGW is a religion.
To see this, imagine yourself asking a clergyman to list the “pros and cons” of going to Hell. He would of course respond sternly: “There are no benefits of ‘going to Hell’! It is punishment for the sins you committed in life!!”. OTOH, he would then explain that there are no “downsides” to ‘going to Heaven’. It will be all “rewards” for keeping the “faith”.
So, that’s why the CAGW Priests can only describe “climate change” in negative terms. They believe (sincerely or otherwise) that it is punishment for Mankind’s Sins on Earth. There can be no exceptions to this Canon Law.
Heaven (Socialist Utopia), OTOH, is a wonderful place and can only be achieved by ‘keeping the faith’ (and paying the Sin Taxes).

Reply to  Johanus
November 20, 2014 6:48 pm

Nice illustration, Johanus.

November 20, 2014 2:22 pm

This near constant diarrhea flow of these pseudo science papers reminds me of a “colorful” saying my dad used to say; “Think in one hand, sh*t in the other see which one fills up first.” Although crude it seems to be what these “authors” are doing without the thinking in either hand.

November 20, 2014 2:28 pm

You would think that other faculty would point out the obvious flaws in this. I think I can safely check off Emory University as a possible place of higher education for any of my children. This dumbing down of higher education is a disservice to the community.

Nigel in Toronto
November 20, 2014 2:35 pm

“Our findings show that there are clear ways that China, and the global community, can limit these health effects … by … investing in health through water and sanitation improvements,” says Remais.
There, fixed!

November 20, 2014 2:35 pm

So…’By 2030, climate change is projected to delay China’s rapid progress towards reducing WSH-attributable infectious disease burden by 8–85 months.’ That looks like really accurate forecasting of truly Mannian accuarcy.
If the progress is delayd by 8 months who will notice and even 7 years (84 months) is no time in a country that looks back on 3,000+ years of recorded history.
Complete tosh.

November 20, 2014 2:42 pm

Emory University is a government funded student loan collector. students who cannot qualify for any real university can get loans to “attend” the PC tutorials and generate this garbage. ‘nuf said on that topic. It is sad that real science is stuck behind the outhouse while political BS gets the money. One cannot even post a link to this site any longer without it’s being deleted within minutes on ANY brain washed AGW believer forum. We can pray they do freeze to death in the coming cold spells ahead. I read something really frightening on “ice age now” about researchers in the Black Sea area finding evidence of extremely rapid onset of mini (and maxi) ice ages – in as few as two or three years…. brrrr…

Reply to  thebillyc
November 20, 2014 2:51 pm

oops – did not mean “this” site (WUWT)- meant other sites…

Reply to  thebillyc
November 20, 2014 3:17 pm

As to the rapid onset of ice ages: I wonder, if one takes proxy samples at one location, should one not expect that that specific location at some point flips from a warm to a cold climatic state from one year to the next – as the cold zone slowly progresses geographically? For each single location it would look like a sudden flip.
No opinion on my side, just wondering.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  thebillyc
November 20, 2014 3:49 pm

Hello thebillyc, you are much too kind. I was thinking about all of those poor reduced in population polar bears now able to dine on yummy McWarmists. But jokes aside, the problem with some academicians is that they do not understand how a technical civilization works and interacts, nor do they want to. For example these authors suggest changes in CO2 output, but for China to build the infrastructure for these health advances it’s guess what? Electricity, Cement, Money. Sigh, it isn’t just all the time resources and money put into this …paper that was wasted, but that which was invested in the authors education as well. What a waste of endeavour.

Reply to  thebillyc
November 21, 2014 10:11 am

Re mini ice age – it’s months not years.
Last Ice Age began in “just months” [study]
An in a completely unrelated matter we have this:
Reuters – 19 Nov 2014
“Ice to close upper Mississippi from November 20, earliest on record”

November 20, 2014 2:52 pm

As a reminder, Nature is owned by the German Holtzbrinck Group, based in Stuttgart, capital of the Green-governed Baden-Wuerttemberg. (The Greens there are currently busy pushing through a public school curriculum focused on genderism in all its forms. For all ages. In all courses. Not a joke. If you thought Common Core Math was bad.)

November 20, 2014 3:42 pm

Oh who cares.
I mean it is [not] true.

Reply to  Tom Trevor
November 20, 2014 3:44 pm

I mean it isn’t true. Too quick to click that reply button.

November 20, 2014 3:48 pm

This imaginary pollution of beneficial trace gas in the atmosphere is diverting our attention from the REAL POLLUTION China is generating. WAKE UP WASHINGTON!

November 20, 2014 5:54 pm

Actually, I think this study may be on the right track, but for the wrong reasons. If China were to actually adopt programs to reduce CO2 emissions, they will probably see increases all kinds of diseases due to slowing of electrification and other forms of modernization.

November 20, 2014 8:08 pm

Reductions in CO2 emissions in China would , presumably, be paralleled by a reduction in all the other stuff that accompanies the CO2….sulphur, various nitrogen compounds, general small particles etc and so lead to cleaner air. Whenever there is an international meeting in Beijing the local factories are shut down.
i’ve visited Shanghai when the air quality ranged between dangerous and hazardous.
So perhaps the right result for the wrong reasons.
But as for “climate change”, anthropogenic, natural, real or imagined, slowing down the provision of sewerage systems and clean water supplies …..????????????????

Tom J
November 21, 2014 5:13 am

I’ve got a car I wanna’ sell. I’m thinking on asking either $7,999.00 for it or maybe $84,980.00 for it. So, what is it? A used Toyota Camry? Or, how about a spanking new Maserati? Could one be the other? Do I know how to price a car? Is my sale a joke? Have I even seen the car, or at least a description of it?
(8 months or 85 months.)

November 21, 2014 8:17 am

frozen water is hard to treat, ice and snow covered land is hard to work on, so yeah climate change MAY have an impact.
not in the way they think though.

November 21, 2014 3:05 pm

This climate change is amazing stuff. Is there anything it can’t do? Shouldn’t we be thinking about a spot for it on the periodical table as well (C and O are already taken)? At the very least there should be a religion devoted to it.

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