By H. Sterling Burnett
Almost every mainstream media “news” outlet this week uncritically parroted a joint statement issued on behalf of more than 200 medical journals claiming climate change poses a dire threat to human health.
Had the media checked the facts, they would have found the medical journals’ statement (MJS) was wrong. Data consistently show human health has steadily improved during the recent period of modest warming. Premature deaths from extreme temperatures, extreme weather events, and weather-related illnesses and mosquito borne diseases have declined dramatically, and should continue to do so if earth continues its modest warming trend.
CNN, The New York Times, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo News, and dozens of other national and international mainstream media outlets covered the MJS. The MJS claimed, among other things, that climate change poses the “greatest threat to global public health,” and that unless we keep drastically cut fossil fuel use in the short term to prevent temperatures from rising more than 1.5℃ above preindustrial levels, as Yahoo News wrote, “the continued buildup of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere will lead to ‘catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.’”
Data demonstrate the MJS is nothing more nor less than climate change alarmism coupled with medical malpractice.
The most recent report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, AR6, finds limited evidence that incidences of extreme weather events, for instance, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, droughts, extreme winter weather, etc,, have increased in number or become more severe. Although the weather isn’t worsening, global infrastructure, medical interventions, food availability, and technology, have improved dramatically along with wealth, amidst the recent modest warming. As a result, deaths resulting from climate related events have fallen to a historic low, declining by more than 99 percent over the past 100 years.
Concerning temperature related health events and premature mortality, in July The Lancet published what is arguably the largest study ever to examine excess mortality associated with temperature. The study’s authors, 68 scientists representing universities and research institutes in 33 countries spanning all regions of the world, came to two clear conclusions: cold temperatures contribute to far more deaths each year than warmer temperatures, and deaths associated with extreme temperatures, hot or cold, are declining.
This study confirms what research previously published in The Lancet, the Southern Medical Journal, and other outlets, has consistently shown, the number of deaths related to extreme temperatures is falling dramatically.
Also, contrary to the impression given by the MJS, the vast body of scientific literature referenced in Chapter Seven of Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts and Chapter Four of Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels demonstrates global warming is not causing the spread of Lyme disease, malaria, Dengue fever, West Nile virus, and other vector-borne diseases.
Another climate related factor contributing to improved human health is the fact that food availability has improved dramatically during the period of modest global warming.
Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) show that crop production and yields are consistently growing and setting new records almost every year. Indeed, the FAO’s recent “Cereal Supply and Demand Brief” reports new global records are being set nearly every year for production of the cereal crops (corn, wheat, rice, and similar crop staples) that comprise most of global food consumption, with the increase in food production being widespread, increasing in developed countries and developing countries and in temperate and warmer regions alike,
Modestly warming temperatures and increased carbon dioxide concentrations have stimulated a greening of the earth that has enormously benefited agriculture. As agronomy and botany explain, the addition of approximately 135 parts per million of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by humans has helped dramatically reduce hunger, by increasing the photosynthetic productivity and improving the water use of plants. As a result, the number of hungry people has declined by two billion since 1990 and there is now 17 percent more food available per person than there was 30 years ago.
Medical journals should not spread climate fear as a means of gaining political influence for medical practitioners. If they really want to promote public health, especially the mental health of their readers, medical journals should quit opining in the areas of climate science, economics, and policy—areas of study about which the vast majority of their contributors, editors, and publishers have no particular expertise.
Climate model simulations may project a human health crisis if the earth continues to warm modestly. Real world data demonstrate those simulations are mistaken, grounded not in evidence but in demonstrably flawed climate models.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.