Lessons from the coronavirus about climate change

Reposted from the Fabius Maximus blog

By Larry Kummer, Editor / 17 February 2020

Summary: The coronavirus epidemic shows science at its best, not perfect but effective. Compare the public health agencies’ response to it with the longer and larger campaign by scientists against climate change. Much could be learned – by the public (climate science is probably beyond internal reform). This could help make a better world.

Woman scientist at work

ID 94929992 © Denisismagilov | Dreamstime.

The coronavirus epidemic and climate change are very different kinds of global crisis. But they have important similarities, most especially that scientists take the lead in both warning the public and recommending solutions – solutions requiring policy-makers’ assent. Both are crises still in motion, with the ending still unknowable. Contrasting the two can provide useful insights, since the response to coronavirus has been a milestone of progress (best so far in history) while the global Climate Change debate has produced global gridlock (with only a few western European nations taking substantial policy action).

Why the different results?
(1) Start at the beginning.

The movement for public policy action to fight climate change hit the big time when climate scientist James Hansen (director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) testified before the Senate on 23 June 1988 (transcript). He stated the problem, the supporting evidence, and concluded with this.

“Finally, I would like to stress that there is a need for improving these global climate models, and there is a need for global observations if we’re going to obtain a full understanding of these phenomena.”

Unfortunately, Hansen’s advice was not taken seriously. Much money was spent on research, and the IPCC skillfully collated the results. But it was uncoordinated, with scientists focusing (rationally) on career-enhancing findings. For example, countless studies focused on headline-grabbing forecasts about the likely consequences of the RCP8.5 scenario (the worst case used in the IPCC’s AR5). It is either improbable or impossible (see here and here), but its propaganda value is high.

Contrast that with the response to the Coronavirus. There were warnings from local, then national, then global public health agencies. WHO organized communications between scientists so that research was coordinated and information shared – on a global scale. Perhaps most importantly, research priorities were established – based on the path to solutions, not to produce politically useful propaganda. There was nothing like that in climate science.

(2) Self-discipline among scientists.

It takes just one paper to get people excited. Such as “Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV: early estimation of epidemiological parameters and epidemic predictions” by Jonathan Reed et al., a non-peer-reviewed paper posted on January 24 at medRxiv. Although speculative and contrary to information from the world’s public health agencies, some take it as gospel and have extreme reactions. This is what America’s liberals saw on January 25 at Naked Capitalism – a Tweet sent on January 25 based on that paper (see the thread here).

Tweet by Feigl Ding about coronavirus

The tweet was condemned by scientists and then deleted by its author.

Even worse was “Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag” by Prashant Pradhan et al., a not-peer-reviewed paper posted on January 31 at BioRxiv. It claimed to find similarities between the new coronavirus and HIV (the viral cause of AIDS). The word “uncanny” in the title and “unlikely to be fortuitous” in the abstract implied that the authors believed that the virus had been engineered – not evolved. The paper was published on Friday, quickly condemned by scientists, and formally withdrawn by the authors on Sunday.

Contrast that with the climate change debate. Scientists gained fame by making increasingly outlandish predictions of doom. Their peers almost always remained silent. Even worse, activists learned that they could make even wild statements without fear of rebuttal by climate scientists and their institutions. Countless bold predictions were made and proven false by time (examples here). An entire industry bloomed of scientists writing predictions of horrors to come and activists that exaggerated and publicized them.

  1. A look at the workings of Climate Propaganda Inc.
  2. Ten years after Katrina: let’s learn from those predictions of more & bigger hurricanes.
  3. See how climate science becomes alarmist propaganda.

Eventually, activists manufactured their own scenarios, going far beyond climate science. Such as The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink by journalists Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank (2018).

Eventually, climate scientists began to occasionally, quietly push back. For example, following the July 2017 article by David Wallace-Wells in NY Magazine: “The Uninhabitable Earth” (expanded into a book: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming). This went too far, even for climate scientists. Some spoke out, such as those quoted in this WaPo article – and especially this FaceBook post by Michael Mann. His summary…

“The article argues that climate change will render the Earth uninhabitable by the end of this century. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The article fails to produce it.”

But it was too little, too late. A population of believers in the climate apocalypse had been created. The NY Magazine article went viral, becoming their most successful article ever. Imitators multiplied.

And, as night follows day, eventually activists declared their independence: Climate activists attacked climate science.

This is several kinds of corruption, as explained in About the corruption of climate science and The noble corruption of climate science (Plato nailed it).

(3) Frankness about uncertainties

“The time for debate has ended.”
Marcia McNutt (former director of the US Geological Survey, then editor-in-Chief of Science magazine, now President of the NAS) in “The beyond-two-degree inferno“, an editorial in Science, 3 July 2015.

The press releases by the CDC and WHO are explicit and specific about the uncertainties in our knowledge about the coronavirus epidemic. As is the IPCC (see the confidence levels for each item in their most recent report, and how many are “medium” or lower).

But in the public debate about climate change, discussion of uncertainties becomes climate “denial.” For example, for several years scientists explored what appeared to be a long pause in global warming. Then research shifted to determining its cause. Hundreds of papers. Yet what the public saw were activists denying this work and condemning as “deniers” those who point to it (examples here). Climate scientists, including the authors of those papers, remained silent.

One other key point: the scientists of WHO and the CDC have conducted their campaign without attacks, let alone smearing, of those experts who disagreed with them (and there are many areas of disagreement). Climate science these days is all about smearing those outside the consensus.

(4) Simple, immediately useful recommendations.

The CDC and WHO reports provide immediately actionable suggestions, a stream of measures to produce incremental progress – each appropriate given the facts at that moment.

The climate science community could do the same. Thirty years ago they could have asked for more funds to do the research James Hanson recommended in 1989, for more money to validate their conclusions (e.g., here, here, and here), to begin a slow conversion away from fossil fuels, to do more research into new energy sources, and to better prepare for extreme weather (whether repeats from the past or from climate change). The result might have been slow and steady, accellerating as knowledge advanced.

Instead, they have done the opposite. They have recommended or demanded massive changes in the world’s society and economy, despite their shaky foundation in facts. As activists’ claims about the future became wilder, the demands became more extreme.

(5) Results from both projects

The public health agencies have strong and broad support. Despite shrill complaints about them by alarmists and extremists, they retain the public’s confidence.

The American public has been subjected to a propaganda barrage about climate change with few precedents in US history. Unfortunately for the activists, we live in a stew of propaganda – and most people have developed a high level of resistance. Gallup’s data as of March 2019 shows the result: a modest increase in concern since 2001 (see detail about 1998 – 2016 here and here – and from 1990 here). But this trend stalled in 2017. These are small results from a vast expenditure of money and effort.

Nobody is perfect. No organizations are perfect, least of all governmental and quasi-governmental organizations such as the CDC, WHO, and IPCC. But they are not all of equal effectiveness, and there are lessons to be learned. But thirty years of history shows that climate science will not reform as a public policy advisor without massive pressure from those funding it.

It’s easy to follow the coronavirus story

The World Health Organization provides daily information, from highly technical information to news for the general public.

Posts about the coronavirus pandemic.
For More Information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

See my series of posts about scientists fighting hysteria during recent epidemics: the 2009 swine flu in America. the 2015 ebola epidemic in America, and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information about this vital issue see the keys to understanding climate change, and especially these debunking our mad policy client debate …

  1. Climate science has died. The effects will be big.
  2. After 30 years of failed climate politics, let’s try science! – A proposal to break the policy gridlock.
  3. The guilty ones preventing good policy about climate change.
  4. Toxic climate propaganda is poisoning US public policy.
  5. A demo showing our broken climate policy debate.
  6. An autopsy of the climate policy debate’s corpse.
Films about scientists responding to global threats

In these films, we see scientists behaving according to their and our highest ideals.

When Worlds Collide (1959) – The world will end. Scientists band together to warn the world and build an ark to carry humanity to another home.

Contagion (2011). – This shows the progress of a pandemic from Patient Zero, through global devastation, to eventual victory by the world’s scientists.

When Worlds Collide (1951)Available at Amazon. Contagion (2011)Available at Amazon.

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February 18, 2020 6:15 am

“The coronavirus epidemic and climate change are very different kinds of global crisis. But they have important similarities, most especially that scientists take the lead in both warning the public and recommending solutions – solutions requiring policy-makers’ assent. Both are crises still in motion, with the ending still unknowable. Contrasting the two can provide useful insights”

This is just brilliant. Thank you very much.

Reply to  chaamjamal
February 18, 2020 6:34 am


Thanks for the review!

Orson Olson
Reply to  Larry
February 18, 2020 7:59 am

Nailed it this time, Larry. But let me make one observation which could inform your next version. The Public Health establishment learned much from SARS, Ebola, and MERS over the past two decades. There has been no independent fact or performance checking like that in climate science. In fact, many have declared is beyond falsifiability. Just another contrast by Big Science where performance and glittery adverts differ mightily. Climate science needs a leash and about guard like a rabid dog.

Al Miller
Reply to  chaamjamal
February 18, 2020 7:28 am

When the actual scientists who haven not sold out to the cabal start speaking up the “global crisis” sarc. of global warming will be over, unlike various viral epidemics which have proven to be real and where indeed science has been of great value.

michael hart
Reply to  Al Miller
February 18, 2020 2:57 pm

Exactly, Al Miller.

The idea of scientists “taking the lead” and informing us about their ready made solutions is one of the main problems of the great global warming caper. They actually abandoned real science because they were more interested in their solutions for the probably non-existent problem.

February 18, 2020 6:27 am

The believers and adherents are now so numerous that it might take centuries for rational thought to overtake it. The situation is slightly comparable to the Coronavirus campaign, and highly comparable to how the religions of the world became powerful financial entities during the dark ages.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
February 18, 2020 6:37 am


The difference between the two perspectives is that comparing the institutions’ reactions to a global threat yields specific operational insights – pointing to reforms we can do.

I’m unclear about the implications from a comparison of global warming with the rise of the Roman Catholic institutions during the dark ages.

Reply to  Larry
February 18, 2020 9:06 am

Larry, I don’t want to belabour the point since it is only partly analogous, but to clarify a little….
Leaders of the church had tithes and the collection plate to receive financial benefit from, with monasteries and cathedrals built by, and living conditions better than, the surrounding peasantry. Not unlike climate scientists’s jobs and income, and departments. Also the church hierarchy had a psychological desire to show that their life’s work was not foolish. If enough money comes in, these become a factor in more and more people declaring their devotion to “the cause” until it is either self supporting or totalitarian in nature. In France whole communities were enslaved and their wealth confiscated to build cathedrals. When the locals rebelled, the church simply told the King to send in the army. When even the government is sold on your scam or takes part in it for their own gain, rational thought is in peril.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
February 18, 2020 1:47 pm

DMacKenzie – fair comment. Note that when Larry says “These are small results from a vast expenditure of money”, that was our money not their money.

February 18, 2020 6:40 am

The difference between coronavirus and climate change is rather simple. One word. Evidence.

John Endicott
Reply to  commieBob
February 18, 2020 6:45 am

bingo, commieBob. Cronovirus commanded action because there was strong evidence that it existed and presented a real problem to be solved. CAGW does not command action because the evidence is lacking (as in there is none). As I keep telling Larry, start at the very first step: Prove the problem exists and is a danger. Larry keeps skipping that step, and that is very telling of his true alarmist colors.

Reply to  John Endicott
February 18, 2020 7:20 am

That’s because for most alarmists, climate change is nothing more than a justification to enforce policies that they have supported all along.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  John Endicott
February 18, 2020 8:44 am


David A
Reply to  John Endicott
February 18, 2020 9:11 am

Another difference is that a virus has zero direct benefit to life, it does not make all crops grow more food, expand growing area, make crops more heat drought and flood resistant, use less water and improve mineral use, cause all green habitat to expand, etc…

Reply to  commieBob
February 19, 2020 3:23 am

one is real
one is dubious to say the least
just hope they dont take the forced lockdown route for the agw hysteria..though the Eurocrats/davos dudes would like its own carbon enforcer army I gather

February 18, 2020 6:54 am

Much comes down to potential risk and cost to mitigate that risk. Climate change some could say is a risk, but the costs are huge to mitigate it. If costs were tiny then not much downside to eliminating the risk. With the virus there is cost to mitigate it ( economic cost as we see in China ) but the costs do not seem that high compared to the risk. It comes down to taking reasonable action to reduce risk. Banning fracking, banning fossil fuels are not reasonable.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Stevek
February 18, 2020 8:49 am

The only “risk” with respect to “climate change” first of all has to do with a COOLING, not warming, climate, and second of all is the risk that we will not be able to sufficiently ADAPT to it, which is the only thing humanity CAN do about “climate change.”

There IS NO “risk” that humanity is creating as respects the “climate,” that’s nothing more than the same old unsupported assertion that the Climate Fascists make.

Making energy scarce, unreliable, unpredictable, and unaffordable (or any one or combination of those things) will do much more REAL damage than all the IMAGINARY damage so-called “climate change” could ever do.

John Tillman
February 18, 2020 6:59 am

The coronavirus threat exists.

There is no climate change crisis. Earth’s climate is the best it has been for humanity and most other life forms in at least 800 years. For land plants, it’s the best in about 2.8 million years.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  John Tillman
February 18, 2020 8:52 am


“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence, clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” – HL Menckin

Reply to  John Tillman
February 18, 2020 10:46 am

So it looks like it’s time for everybody to resign from the Phony Climate Crisis Club and get on board the “Only World Government can save us from the virus-of-the-month” Club.

John Tillman
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
February 18, 2020 11:22 am

Because the totalitarian ChiCom regime has done such a great job at protecting its own oppressed subjects and the inner and outer barbarians in the rest of the world.

February 18, 2020 7:04 am

The single most significant factor that makes me believe that the entire Global Warming/Climate Change hysteria is pure manufactured hype is the actions being taken to prevent/reduce the effects.
FACT: ” Nuclear power plants generate 14 percent of the world’s electricity, but some countries are more dependent on this power source than others. France relies on nuclear for 75.2 percent of its electricity; the United States, about 20 percent.” The percentage increase of NP since the beginning of this hysteria has barely changed. Even the increase in Wind/Solar has only increased by decimal points.
FACT: “CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.” That is between 30 and 150 DEATHS per DAY!! That daily influenza death number exceeds ALL deaths attributable to nuclear power by the production of electricity since the first day of generating electricity by nuclear power. Even the total Annual influenza DEATHS approaches ALL deaths by ALL Nuclear use. If politicians, climate change activists were worried about Global Warming then why aren’t they building more nuclear power plants? The answer provides only one possible explanation ..

Reply to  Uzurbrain
February 18, 2020 7:55 am

And on GWPF.com I read this.

“The OBR estimates that in the next four years alone (2020 to 2024) the UK will spend nearly £44 billion on renewables subsidies.

A fraction of these vast expenditures could have delivered greatly improved flood prevention, defences and disaster recovery systems. Comparable spending would have made the UK extremely resilient in the face of natural disasters.”

The effect that the money spent on increasing renewables ans reducing CO@ has on flooding, record high temperatures and record low temperatures is MINIMAL, in essence wasted. The only thing it does is feed the hysteria and increase the public demand to spend more money on preventing climate change. This will only create a never ending spiral to collapse of the government. Note that the rich oligarchs pushing this agenda will make fortunes while destroying the world.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Uzurbrain
February 18, 2020 11:36 am


The very fact that the GreenBlob resists the only viable source of abundant emission-less electricity, that is nuclear power, tell us all we need to know about true motives.
The true motives driving the Climate Change scam and it’s paid for Junk Science, unites the EcoGreenBlob with the GreenSlimers. The climate scam’s intent is to significantly diminish the human population total (the GreenBlob ecoterrorists), and to redirect vast sums of money via expensive wind and solar schemes into the pockets of elitist investors (the GreenSlime).

February 18, 2020 7:16 am

“Both are crises still in motion”

Really? The only crisis related to climate change, is the crisis being caused by politicians as they pursue anti-CO2 policies that not only don’t work, end up making life worse for most citizens.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  MarkW
February 18, 2020 8:55 am


Reply to  MarkW
February 18, 2020 11:19 am

I suspect that those who are long on renewable energy stocks would love for everyone to think there is a climate crisis.

February 18, 2020 7:38 am

even the clowns that believe in ‘oh my God end of the world Armageddon” ….

….will not blame China and the developing world for causing it

How did we get to a point with this China cover up?

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Latitude
February 18, 2020 8:09 am

If I thought it would change anything, I would probably have spent some time trying to figure out whose “fault” it is.

Bryan A
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 18, 2020 10:01 am

It’s San Andreas’ Fault

David A
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 18, 2020 9:05 pm

Substitute the word “cause” for “fault”
and then see the logic of those “wasting their time”

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  David A
February 19, 2020 7:20 pm

If assigning blame for the afflictions of mankind is your cause, have at it.
I personally give you my wholehearted blessing to completely waste every second of your time on it, if you so desire.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Latitude
February 18, 2020 8:11 am

I can recall some very ugly things happening back at the onset of awareness of the emergence of a new infectious disease called AIDS, relating to people deciding whose fault it was.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 18, 2020 8:17 am

It was primarily an STD transmitted through anal intercourse by sexually liberal individuals.

Reply to  n.n
February 18, 2020 8:57 am

AGW? An STD? That explains a lot.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  n.n
February 18, 2020 10:51 am

There were a significant number of became infected by blood or blood product transfusion, intravenous drug use, mother passing to child at birth or (possible…I cannot recall) breastfeeding, and heterosexual sex.
Also, since there was a perception that the people who had it deserved to have it, little funding was forthcoming while in the mean time a virus was spreading through the country.

Orson Olson
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 18, 2020 1:51 pm

…And the claim anybody could get it and everyone might well get HIV-Aids was gay lobby dogma for decades after it was known to be false by 1988 in SF studies of heterosexual couples (eg, one HIV pos, the other neg), and hundreds of times more difficult to pass the virus from or to healthy heterosexual people. Sheesh… gullible much? Americans sure we’re.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 19, 2020 7:35 pm

So we count you in the not at all gullible group of people who feel that since AIDS victims “mostly deserve it”, why should any “normal” people worry about them, or be concerned for the other people who get it… because it is “hundreds of times” less likely?
After all, why worry about everyone, eh?
That will never be anyone “decent” people know or care about, is that the thought?
Well, at least not many, anyhow.
Hundreds of times less than “innocent” heterosexual people, no?

If that is what you call gullible…being concerned for people in general, not only for people we personally identify as being just like ourselves…then yeah, I reckon I am.
Even if someone were to have the bigoted view that people who do things we disagree with or would possibly not do ourselves, are simply bad people, that in no way justifies contempt for their lives, or makes it in any way logical to let a horrific disease propagate through our populations.
Compassion for people is a moral value.
Anyone can get it.
That is a fact.
Or does God protect the blood cells of the righteous from viral infections?
Being judgmental is generally not considered to be one.

Reply to  Latitude
February 18, 2020 8:16 am

Empathy, and secular priorities.

Joel O’Bryan
February 18, 2020 8:34 am

Apparently too few people are aware of what is suspected about re-emergence of the 1977 Influenza A H1N1 returning to human circulation after a 20 year long absence. And the debate still rages on gain of function laboratory experimentation viruses.

Openaccess: https://mbio.asm.org/content/6/4/e01013-15

“The 1977-1978 influenza epidemic was probably not a natural event, as the genetic sequence of the virus was nearly identical to the sequences of decades-old strains. “

“The 1977-1978 influenza epidemic was probably not a natural event, as the genetic sequence of the virus was nearly identical to the sequences of decades-old strains. ”

In the subsequent decades, H1N1 has killed millions and sickened billions.

And this:
“The Apocalypse as a Rhetorical Device in the Influenza Virus Gain-of-Function Debate“
Openaccess: https://mbio.asm.org/content/5/5/e02062-14

“Consequently, diseases that were considered controlled, such as measles, have become endemic again. These examples suffice to make the point that when assessing risks and benefits, humans need to be extremely humble, for their prediction record is poor.”

February 18, 2020 8:40 am

Anyone know if it is still true what the Director (A. Fauci) of USA’s National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases stated contention last week (Tues.): that despite USA’s Center for Disease Control’s staff already bring in China they aren’t yet given access to the locus of this coronavirus outbreak?

John Tillman
Reply to  gringojay
February 18, 2020 9:40 am

As of three days ago, still not. China has let WHO in but as of then not yet the CDC.

According to an interview on CNN.

Reply to  gringojay
February 18, 2020 10:07 am

I don’t necessarily blame WHO as maybe they are playing nice with China to at least get some inroads and be able to do something in China. They may fear that telling the truth will cause China to cut them off.

The disease seems to be very contagious since there are reports of whole families getting it, multiple cruise passengers getting despite safeguards, and medical people in Japan getting it, despite fact that one would think medical personnel take extra precautions washing their hands etc. But this could be a form of statically bias as we are not looking at whole of the disease.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Stevek
February 18, 2020 10:55 am

That cruise ship went from having a small number of cases to the largest, by far, concentration of cases outside of China.
I am willing to bet it will be determined that forcing them to stay on that ship is the reason hundreds of people have it. 455 at last count, IIRC.
The original number was 7.
The US finally saw the obvious and we sent planes to bring all US citizens back to a proper quarantine facility, even those that tested positive but as yet had no symptoms.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 18, 2020 11:00 am

Correction…542 per Bryan A.

AGW is Not Science
February 18, 2020 8:43 am

The coronavirus epidemic and climate change are very different kinds of global crisis.

Yes – one (coronavirus) is an ACTUAL “crisis,” if not contained. The other (CAGW) is fiction dressed up to look like “science.”

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. So far, all the “climate cabal” has offered is “hypothetical bullshit” with laughable extrapolations piled high and deep on top.

There is no need for “solutions” when the “problem” does not exist.

Bryan A
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
February 18, 2020 10:10 am

Speaking of Coronavirus,

As of 2-17-2020
Total cases stands at 73,451 with 15,000 reaching the end of virus and 1875 of those succumbing to the disease (currently a 12.5% morbidity rate)
And the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship is up to 542 confirmed cases though no recoveries or deaths yet

Reply to  Bryan A
February 18, 2020 4:43 pm

Check your math

John Endicott
Reply to  Rick
February 19, 2020 7:48 am

Please specify what math you think he got in error. As far as I can tell, the only math he performed was for this: “with 15,000 reaching the end of virus and 1875 of those succumbing to the disease”
for which 12.5% is the mathematically correct value for the given numbers (1875/15000 x 100 = 12.5%)

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Rick
February 20, 2020 1:23 am

The error is in logic.
It is not a valid metric to count deaths against those who have “fully recovered”, while also not counting cases that were so mild that they have not been tallied yet, and may never be.
The only people counted yet are those that have shown up to be cared for at hospitals.

Epidemiologists have learned the best ways to estimate case-fatality rates (that is what is being discussed here…mortality rate is something else) while an outbreak is ongoing. Using the number of those fully recovered in the denominator makes zero sense, unless one is trying to juice the number for shock value or something.
The actual rate has to include people who never got sick after being exposed, those who had mild or no symptoms and never presented to medical authorities, and it has to try to make a logical estimate of the number who are statistically likely to die based on what is known to have happened so far.

So one has to know the total population to get a case-fatality rate.
What is usually done is that the rate is estimated on the basis of the number of deaths within a given time period, divided by the total population at the midpoint of that time period…the mid-interval population.

Also, as an aside, morbidity means illness. A morbidity rate is the frequency or proportion with which a disease appears in a population. There are some 1,380,000,000 people in China.
If there are 73,451 who have gotten the disease, the morbidity rate would calculate to one out of 18,800 people, or less that 6 one thousandths of one percent.

I do not think anyone is trusting the current numbers, and even if the authorities were doing their level best to be accurate and truthful, it is very doubtful that the true numbers could be reported in anything like real time. The situation is too chaotic, and it is an entire country of over 13,000 million people.
Even in small scale disasters, we have all seen how bad the numbers being reported in real time can be.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 20, 2020 1:26 am

Here is an interesting scatterplot of the case fatality rate vs virality for a bunch of diseases including COVID 19:

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 20, 2020 1:27 am

Note that this was from over 3 weeks ago. I would not have posted if I saw that first.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 21, 2020 3:38 am

Make that a country of 1,300 million people.

February 18, 2020 8:46 am

edit: correction to read “being” [not bring]

Reply to  gringojay
February 18, 2020 11:21 am

Clear in context.

J Mac
February 18, 2020 9:04 am

Q: Why the different results?
A: The coronavirus is a real threat. The evidence is unarguable – It kills people.
Conversely, the ‘Climate Change’ hypothesis has been falsified. It is a non-threatening non-crisis, fraudulently founded on extreme exaggerations asserting the mild natural warming occurring since the little ice age poses an ‘existential threat’ to the entire planet. Fifty years of continuous extreme predictions asserting impending doom ‘in 10 years’ that never occurred are durable evidence that man-made ‘Climate Change’ is a false hypothesis.

Man-made ‘Climate Change’ hypothesized. Extreme predictions made for 50 years. Predictions tested for 50 years. Predictions failed and still failing. Hypothesis Rejected. The null hypothesis (natural warming) holds.

Tom Abbott
February 18, 2020 9:11 am

From the article: “Unfortunately for the activists, we live in a stew of propaganda – and most people have developed a high level of resistance.”

I think that is a good point. It might be our Saving Grace.

Robert of Texas
February 18, 2020 10:36 am

Corona Virus –
Real; scientifically substantiated; scientific basis; agenda is public health

Catastrophic Global Warming –
Fake; based on pseudo science; no basis for extreme predictions; agenda is politics, power and money

Talk about comparing your apples and oranges.

Joel O'Bryan
February 18, 2020 10:43 am

Larry would do well to read this mbio opinion piece written ~6 years ago.

The Apocalypse as a Rhetorical Device in the Influenza Virus Gain-of-Function Debate

Humans are notoriously poor at assessing future benefits and risks. Consider nuclear power, which was born from a program to develop a weapon of mass destruction. When nuclear power was developed for commercial purposes, the risk was thought to be minimal and no one anticipated the disasters at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. On the other hand, no one initially anticipated the benefits of radioactive nucleotides and radiation in medicine, archeological dating, smoke detectors, and sterilization of food and medical devices. In the mid-1970s, scientists fretted that recombinant DNA technology would unleash a plague of new infectious diseases and convened a conference at Asilomar that put in place a self-enforced moratorium until the process was better understood (1).
“The apocalypse is a powerful rhetorical tool because the concept it is so well known to our culture. It was the title theme of popular films such as Zombie Apocalypse and Apocalypse Now. The apocalypse appears in the “end times” literature of many religions, where it a serves as a powerful rhetorical device arguing for faith. In science, a recombinant-DNA-driven apocalypse was invoked at the Asilomar Conference, which established a moratorium on certain experiments. Proponents of the likelihood that we are living at a time of human-made climate change often invoke apocalyptic scenarios to make their point.

Repeatedly invoking the apocalypse can create a sophistry that we call the apocalyptic fallacy, which, when applied in a vacuum of evidence and theory, proposes consequences that are so dire, however low the probability, that this tactic can be employed to quash any new invention, technique, procedures, and/or policy.”

(note: bolding was mine)

The climate change scammers are repeatedly invoking the climate apocylypse to quash the use of natural gas for electrical generation in order to reap vast rewards via return on investment for their renewable enrgy schemes that will impoverish the middle class.

For exactly like billionaire Michael Bloomberg says here in this video, where he is talking with Christine Lagarde at an IMF forum less than 2 years ago (April 2018):


Bloomberg said to Christine Lagarde, “Raising Taxes on Poor People is a “Good Thing.”.
His argument boils down the his elitist snob opinion that the Western middle class (that is, his poor people making less than about $75,000/year, and Hillary’s “Deplorables.”) have too much money to spend on sugary sodas, and guns, and automobiles and thus fabundant ossil fuel lifestyles. Bloomberg makes clear he feels they (that is you and me) need to be taxed so they (we) can’t afford those things.

Elite snobbery from the billionaire class is funding this Climate Scam propaganda we are seeing now. I frequently call them the Green Slime, like his Presidential campaign, Bloomberg (and the other elitist billionaires) leave agreen slime trail of money for rentseekers to feed on who then do their bidding.

We see this vividly today in Bloomberg’s personal ego project called his US Presidential campaign, Bloomberg2020, how much vast fortunes they have (vast fortunes to you and me, he’s alread spent north of $400 billion is will easily spend more than $1Billion of his own money if he gets the Dem’s nomination. Some have suggested Bloomberg alone is ready to spend $4billion to $6Billion on a campaign to defeat Trump.) that they are able to throw away without any worry to how it will impact their lives.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 18, 2020 10:45 am

edit/correction: “…he’s already spent north of $400 million…” not billion.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 18, 2020 11:04 am

Meanwhile Bloomberg is a bona fide junk food and fast food junkie.
World class jackass, that man.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 18, 2020 9:41 pm

That World-class Jackass may use his many billions of wealth to BUY the Democrat’s nomination for President to run against Trump.

To be clear: Mike Bloomberg has vitriol and hatred for Trump few can imagine.
And that will drive Mini-Mike to do irratiuonal things like waste 4 Billion dollars to defeat Trump.
And Mini-Mike, just exactly like Hillary, has a hard lesson to learn about the American people.

And Just like the climate scam shows us, money buys the ethics on the Left.
And Nature will show them a hard truth too.

And together that will destroy the US Democratic Party in November.
Good riddance.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 19, 2020 10:35 am

Them Democrats will let anyone claim to be a Democrat, eh?
First Bernie, who was at least on the appropriate side of the political spectrum.
He has never been a Democrat, and they are scared to death of what happens if he gets the nomination, but the question has to be asked: Why did they let him run as a D?
And Bloomberg, IFAIK, was never a Democrat either.
From 2001 to 2007, he was a Republican, and then he became an Independent…right up until he was deciding to make a run for the White House.
He has no chance, for numerous reasons, under the current circumstances, IMO.
And I agree that he is looking very likely to waste a whole big pile of money…not that he cares.
He is in his late 70s and has something like 62 billion in net worth, which at an average annual growth rate of 8% (the long term appreciation of the S&P 500 over a very long time), gives him another $5 billion or so every year.
And IFAIK they are still not letting anyone take it with them.
The way it is shaping up, it will be important to have plenty of popcorn on hand for the rest of this year.
On the one hand, if Bernie gets the nomination, there will be the pert near close to 80 year old socialist with the bum ticker and who promises to massively raise everyone taxes, running on the D ticket.
Sane Democrats, what few are left (at the very least suburban moms) will either stay home, vote third party, or vote for Trump.
And if they cheat Bernie out of it, which they seem almost sure to do, his people will stay home or vote for Trump…or Bernie may run third party if the screwing they impinge on him is excessively blatant.
And no matter which of the people left, a lot of identity politics voters are not gonna be very happy.
There are other factors, many of them in fact, that make anyone but Trump very unlikely to win.
There is the usual economic rationale, and the fact that incumbents almost always win, especially if the economy is not in crappy shape.
And there are intangible but historically compelling reasons arguing against any of the current Democratic candidates.
Bloomie and Mayor Cheat…little short guys. Short guys are generally not elected President.
Bloomie and Bernie (no reason to consider Biden, he is toast. He oughta leave while he can still do so with some shred of fake dignity) are a couple of old white guys in a party which has spent the past who knows how many years telling us all how much they hate old white guys, who are of course responsible for everything bad in the world and are automatic racists and everythingelseists too.
They are all promising to raise taxes, confiscate guns, pack the Supreme court to make sure third trimester abortions are legalized, open the borders and hand out free money and college and housing and health care to anyone who wants to come to the US…
In other words, they are all for a whole list of policies that are in and of themselves proven political suicide positions.
I can recall the last time they Dems ran so far to the left. It was PreClinton.
Clinton got elected by being the first Democrat in a long time that did not promise to take away the 2A, did not promise to legalize abortion on demand at any time up until birth, did not promise to raise taxes, was tough on crime, etc.
I ma almost certain that this November is gonna be somewhere between a huge landslide and an absolute crushing of the Democratic party.

February 18, 2020 12:36 pm

Is climate change hysteria just like a virus with an RO of 3.8 ?
Compare and contrast a physical virus with an ideological virus.

Jeff Alberts
February 18, 2020 1:16 pm

“The coronavirus epidemic and climate change are very different kinds of global crisis.”

Typo, should be crises. 🙂

February 18, 2020 1:33 pm

The Covid-19 epidemic and climate change/global warming are totally different kinds of ‘crises’. Covid-19 is a real, actual and present danger to people. climate change/global warming is an imaginary danger manufactured for ulterior social and political ends unrelated to the climate. Co-ordinated medical and scientific actions are getting Covid-19 under control as it is a real event. We could (and we do) do what we liked and the weather and climate will unfold exactly as they wish. They are beyond our control and pose only exactly the same dangers that they always have done in the past and will continue to do in the future. Covid-19 will be ended by human efforts, climate change/global warming will not end as it is on life-support by legions of climateers who derive a steady living from it by pretending to care about humanity.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
February 18, 2020 3:12 pm

COVID-19 is a one night stand and climate change is a cow to be milked.

February 18, 2020 5:35 pm

Both are crises still in motion…

If you think warming of 2.3° F and sea level rise of 7 to 12 inches a hundred years from now is a crisis, well yeah, I guess…

That’s only slightly more than the 1.8° F it warmed over the last century, and just about the same amount of sea level rise as the last century; which humans managed to adapt to rather effortlessly. And there’s no guarantee that it will continue to warm. If you still think it’s a crisis, though, maybe see a psychiatrist and get some medication.

Nicholas McGinley
February 19, 2020 6:30 am

Some assertions I have checked on and found to not be true or not so likely to be just as asserted.
Hibernation of bats:
– Some bats have a sort of hibernation, called torpor. Fruit bats do not hibernate. Many do not migrate.

Nearest known location of bats with virus similar to COVID19 is Zhousan, about 500 miles due east of Wuhan.
This does not mean this is the closest location of that species, or the closest location of bats with that virus.
It means that in 2018 bats were found in that place and had coronavirus taken from them, and that viral genome is in the stored genome files of whoever keeps those files, and that virus has been found to be a 88% genetic match for the new virus.
It does not mean that the new virus came from those bats.
It does not mean those bats are not in the Wuhan area.
It does not mean that those are the only bats with that 88% similar virus.
It does not mean that there are not other bats in other areas that may have an even more similar virus, or that there are not bats in the immediate area of Wuhan that do not have that virus or even ones more similar.

All it means is that in the limited database of bat corona viruses which have been sampled and catalogued, that is the closest KNOWN match.
What percentage of bat populations have been tested and all virus in them catalogued?
There are hundreds of species of bats in China, and dozens of species very closely related to the bats with that 88% virus. The 88% virus bats have a huge range, and individual bats may range far and wide and may even be somewhat nomadic or interbreed with bats in overlapping regions. Further, those viruses are able to infect a wide range of mammalian species.
Ordinary house cats were found to have been widely infected with SARS during that outbreak, and it is unknown if cats were able to pass it back to people. And that is just a single example.
Those viruses are numerous and infect a wide range of species, and those species are all over the place.
It is entirely possible that in the coming months and years the reservoir for this strain of virus will be found to exist all around that region.

Bats are not in Wuhan because it is Winter there and they are hibernating, and bats do not inhabit cities.
This is false, false, false, and misleading on top of false.
Bats are known to be widespread in cities.
Average temp in Wuhan in February is the high low range 38-51°F
But the virus was already widely circulating in people in late December.
December climatology for Wuhan is 37-51°F, November is 46-62°F, October is 58-74°F
Yes, AVERAGE high in October is 74 degrees fahretheit, which is not at all cold, and that is average.

Bats live in cities, and may prefer a warm UHI in a city to outlying regions which may be colder agricultural areas.
And it is not at all hard to see that if the virus was widespread in December, the initial cases could have been 8 weeks prior or more. We see how long this virus incubates, and that spreading events seem spotty…sometimes spreading easily, other times slowly.
That cruise ship is a good example…for over 10 days the numbers of new people was moderate, and then it rose fairly quickly, and was uneven. If each patient incubates for a week to two weeks and spreads to 3 or 4 people, how long from initial case to thousands?
And the number in January may have been many many thousands if reports are to be believed.

And besides for that, are reports that there was an intermediate host.
This article from Lancet has several passages that bear on assertions made here in this thread.
Relating to an intermediate host:
“Although our phylogenetic analysis suggests that bats might be the original host of this virus, an animal sold at the seafood market in Wuhan might represent an intermediate host facilitating the emergence of the virus in humans”
“Recombination has been seen frequently in coronaviruses.1 As expected, we detected recombination in the Sarbecoviruses analysed here. Our results suggest that recombination events are complex and are more likely occurring in bat coronaviruses than in 2019-nCoV. Hence, despite its occurrence, recombination is probably not the reason for emergence of this virus, although this inference might change if more closely related animal viruses are identified.
In conclusion, we have described the genomic structure of a seventh human coronavirus that can cause severe pneumonia and have shed light on its origin and receptor-binding properties. More generally, the disease outbreak linked to 2019-nCoV again highlights the hidden virus reservoir in wild animals and their potential to occasionally spill over into human populations.”


All of this talk about spike protein substitutions and bats hibernating and not existing near that market are not exactly true, not exactly the relevant factors, or not especially compelling as to the likely origin of the virus.
These things are rarely figured out quickly, in terms of details.
The way this virus spreads, all of the people who came down very sick in December may have been infected by someone who worked at that market and had mild symptoms.
Between genetic drift and possible recombination events in some coinfected host, there is no reason to think that there is necessarily anything unusual about the particulars of this virus.
At least not that has been pointed out in any reputable publications.
There is no shortage of people in this field all over the world who will be looking at this closely.
I for one will not be jumping to any conclusions based on what amounts to internet rumormongering

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
February 19, 2020 8:46 am

Meant to post this on one of the other threads on this topic, actually.
My bad.

Johann Wundersamer
March 1, 2020 9:20 pm

The Sachsenspiegel:

How does the lie come into the world: the lie is always there. It’s waiting for a moment of weakness.

How does the danger come into the world: the danger is always there. It waits for a moment of weakness, of inattention.

And if someone stands under the eaves and does not go away and you tell him three times, you may kill him and give his widow 3 Groschen.

But with your god, you’ll have to take that up with him.


If someone is standing under the eaves and does not leave, even though it is raining, then
he targets a woman: your wife, your daughter, or

he is a spy, a leader of robbers – their captain, and his companions lurk in the forest behind the house.

There “is no right”. One has “to get right” – “to get” means “war”.

War must be waged against injustice; no-one goes to war alone.

Tell your house mates, neighbors, relatives “take flails, scythes, axes, knives – what you have. We go to the neighboring village to the robbers and get our rights.”

“Whoever goes along and fights can take with what he gets”.

“And the women with children, they won’t fight. Give them a milk cow and a calf. Or 5 Groschen”.

Sometimes the only way get rid of the lie, the danger. In the world.


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