News Brief by Kip Hansen
JAMA Network Open, an online open-access journal of the American Medical Association, has published “Climate Change and Health — Call for Papers” from authors Drs. Frederick P. Rivara and Stephan D. Fihn, Editor and Deputy Editor of JAMA Network Open. It is a good thing that they have published it as an Editorial.
This “Call for Papers” is a prime example of what leads to bias in scientific (and medical) journals. Rivara and Fihn, the editors of JAMA Network Open, expressly call for papers that will show harms from future climate change. No pretense is made to call for papers that will discuss the possible benefits or harms of future climate change — only harms.
After what appears to be a fair and sensible (if unsurprisingly already biased) lede:
“The scientific community widely agrees that climate change is occurring due to the increase in greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities. These changes are likely to have profound implications in a range of human experiences worldwide. As a global open access health journal, JAMA Network Open is issuing a call for papers on the health outcomes and risks associated with climate change.” [ footnote reference numbers deleted –kh ]
the authors out their true objectives by then writing:
“We are interested in reports of original research on the associations of heat with the health of humans and their potential adaptations to global warming. Air pollution is a critically important topic because it is associated with increases in the risk of cardiovascular disease, impaired lung function,, allergies and asthma, altered thyroid function, food insecurity and malnutrition, and forced migration. The increasing incidence of wildfires further lessens air quality and has immediate and long-term effects on humans and other organisms. We are also interested in studies on changes in the incidence of infectious diseases, including vector-borne and food-borne illnesses, occurring as a result of changes in a region’s temperature, biome, and capacity to combat these illnesses.
Climate change may also be associated with risks to mental health, including increased stress, anxiety, and depression. As extreme weather occurs with greater frequency, threats to health are associated with the traumas of natural disasters, which bring loss of life and the destruction of community infrastructure. These studies are thus critically important to fully understand the magnitude and breadth of the health consequences of environmental changes. Climate change may also impact a community’s ability to support and develop health-promoting resources, such as green space, which has been shown to be associated with improvements in mental health.
JAMA Network Open is particularly interested in examining how climate change affects people most susceptible to environmental degradation: people at the extremes of age, those with chronic illness, those performing physical work in the heat, and those living with homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, and discrimination.”
That is certainly a fine list of Climate Catastrophe topics, mostly imaginary [ht — by analogy — Douglas Adams ] . They will view as “favorable” any submitted paper that is pre-conceived to show that Climate Change will be bad for humans — or agriculture, the atmosphere, animals, environments … make your own list — and especially for the disadvantaged: old people, very young people, chronically ill people, people who have to work (outside), the homeless, poor, hungry and with identities that suffer “discrimination” (used in its special Identity Politics definition).
Better hurry though: get your grant requests in quickly because “Manuscripts should be submitted by March 1, 2020.”
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This solicitation for papers is one of the many reasons that scientific journals have been found to contain an endless supply of research that is often not only biased but just plain wrong. A journal soliciting papers specifically to represent only one side of a science controversy is, in my opinion, simply unscientific and violates the very premise of a scientific or medical journal.
JAMA Network Open would have been fully justified to call for papers on the future health and environmental health implications of possible climate change futures. Sensible voices have been pointing out for years that cold places will benefit from longer growing seasons, less stress and death from cold temperatures and that hot places will see little, if any, warming. The “spread of tropical diseases” concept is well-known to be a false issue from the start [ see here and here ].
As John P. A. Ioannidis has pointed out, time and time again, “for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.”
This essay covers one of the reasons that Ioannidis gets that right.
Begin your comments with “Kip…” if you would like a reply.
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