Skip Navigation

Alarmists, Media Falsely Link Coronavirus to Climate

April 24, 2020

Climate Change Weekly #357

Taking a page from Democrat Party political hack Rahm Emanuel’s playbook, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” politicized commentators, reporters, and scientists are shamefully trying to link legitimate fears of the coronavirus pandemic to all manner of purported climate disasters.

Over the past month, writers for Climate Realism have repeatedly documented the myriad attempts by climate alarmists to link COVID-19 to false claims that climate change, supposedly caused by humans, will cause deadly pandemics to become more frequent and severe.

In an editorial in The Hill, Vinod Thomas, former director-general and senior vice president of the Independent Evaluation Group at the World Bank Group, an organization that has blocked critical energy projects in poor developing countries in order to fight climate change, writes concerning global warming, “There is a link to pandemics, like COVID-19, and a warmer world, coupled with human encroachment into wildlife habitats, and greater possibilities of animal-to-human virus transmissions.”

Not to be outdone in spinning climate fairy tales, Time magazine climate writer Justin Worland writes, “I have no evidence that climate change triggered this particular virus to jump from animals to humans at this particular time, or that a warmer planet has helped it spread. That said, it’s pretty clear that, broadly speaking, climate change is likely to lead to an uptick in future epidemics caused by viruses and other pathogens.”

Business Insider and the Scientific American also published articles hyping a purported climate change-pandemic link. Notably, the author of the Business Insider article titled “Climate change is only going to make health crises like coronavirus more frequent and worse” is the founder of a company that markets waste-to-energy products as a low-carbon-dioxide alternative to conventional energy. He obviously has a vested financial interest in promoting false climate scares by inaccurately linking a frightening viral outbreak to carbon-dioxide emissions.

The piece in Scientific American was written by World Health Organization (WHO) researcher Arthur Wyns. Wyns’ article could be viewed as an attempt to divert attention from the WHO’s awful response to the coronavirus, a classic case of misdirection. Wyns argues we should blame the climate, not the WHO, for the spread of COVID-19. The WHO downplayed COVID-19’s severity even after thousands of people across dozens of countries had been infected and died, failing to declare it a pandemic until long after it had become apparent it was.

Adding insult to injury, WHO acted as propaganda minister for China’s communist leadership, using China’s state media talking points repeatedly to praise the country’s response to the pandemic while downplaying the fact China was the source of the virus and its leaders’ actions increased its spread. WHO also opposed countries closing their borders to travelers from China, leaving America, Europe, and the rest of the world open to disease carriers fleeing the Wuhan province. Disgustingly, CNN and other anti-Trump media outlets in the United States did the same thing.

As every one of those writers should be well aware, any purported link between transmissible diseases and climate change is false. Numerous studies demonstrate transmissible diseases such as the flu and COVID-19 are far more prevalent during fall, winter, and early spring, when the weather is cold and damp, than in the summer months when it is warm and dry. Everyone knows the “flu season” runs from fall through early spring. Colds are less common in the summer as well, although they are of course not unheard of.

Historically, colder periods are linked to famine, as crops fail, and the rapid spread of pandemics, such as the bubonic plague, which ran rampant during the Little Ice Age. During relatively warm periods, by contrast, pandemics typically wane, though they do not disappear, and hunger and malnutrition both decline sharply. Chapter 7 of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change’s Climate Change Reconsidered: Biological Impacts details the results of dozens of peer-reviewed studies and reports showing premature deaths from illness and disease are far more prevalent during colder periods.

In 2010, British Broadcasting Corporation health correspondent Clare Murphy analyzed mortality statistics from the UK’s Office of National Statistics from 1950 through 2007 and found, “For every degree the temperature drops below 18C [64 degrees Fahrenheit], deaths in the UK go up by nearly 1.5 percent.”

U.S. Interior Department analyst Indur Goklany found similar results in a study of official U.S. mortality statistics. According to those official statistics, an average of 7,200 Americans die each day during the months of December, January, February, and March, compared to 6,400 each day during the rest of the year.

In an article published in the Southern Medical Journal in 2004, W. R. Keatinge and G. C. Donaldson noted, “Cold-related deaths are far more numerous than heat-related deaths in the United States, Europe, and almost all countries outside the tropics, and almost all of them are due to common illnesses that are increased by cold.”

In a study published in Lancet in 2015, researchers examining health data from 384 locations in 13 countries accounting for more than 74 million deaths—a huge sample size from which to draw sound conclusions—found cold weather directly or indirectly killed 1,700 percent more people than hot weather.

“[N]on-optimum ambient temperature is responsible for substantial excess in mortality, with important differences between countries. Although most previous research has focused on heat-related effects, most of the attributable deaths were caused by cold temperatures,” the study states.

Commenting on the Lancet study in a 2017 New York Times article, author Jane Brody wrote, “Over time, as global temperatures rise, milder winter temperatures are likely to result in fewer cold-related deaths, a benefit that could outweigh a smaller rise in heat-caused mortality.”

Contrary to the assertions of fearmongers pushing a climate delusion, the wealth of scientific evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion it is cold, not heat, that kills, and thus a modestly warmer world with shorter, less severe winters should result in fewer premature deaths. That’s the truth, and anyone saying otherwise is either badly misinformed or lying.

—    H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: Climate Realism; Climate Realism; Climate Realism; Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change


IN THIS ISSUE …

Sceptics Seek Understanding, Alarmists Push Blame … Pumped Storage Uses More Energy Than It Produces … Fracking Not Behind Rising Methane Emissions


SCEPTICS SEEK UNDERSTANDING, ALARMISTS PUSH BLAME

An interesting analysis at Climate Discussion Nexus demonstrates the parallels between the current debate over the causes of the coronavirus and the debate that has taken place over the last two decades between climate alarmists and climate realists.

The discussion titled “Debate about the Debate” begins by noting many of the same people who’ve pushed the narrative humans are causing catastrophic climate change and that a radical reshaping of the economy is needed to prevent it—labelling anyone who disagrees with them as “deniers” opposed to science—are now making the same claims about those who question the cost and merits of the government shutting down the economy to fight the coronavirus.

“Climate alarmists want you to know who is to blame for early delays in responding to COVID-19,” the article states. “Katherine Hayhoe insists that it’s down to those nasty climate deniers who also don’t trust medical experts and instead rely on stuff they find online. (The evidence for which she says she found online.) Naomi Oreskes also sees a pattern. ‘First, one denies the problem, then one denies its severity, and then one says it is too difficult or expensive to fix, and/or that the proposed solution threatens our freedom.’”

For people like Oreskes and others quoted in the article, questioning the severity of a problem or expressing concerns about the costs of solutions proposed to solve it “are self-evidently bad things rather than part and parcel of the necessary debates about major public policies,” the article states.

Even though the coronavirus shutdown wiped out a third of the value of the stock market in less than a week and resulted in more than 12 million people filing for unemployment in just two weeks, potentially producing the worst nationwide and indeed global depression since the 1930s, “alarmists can’t see why anyone was reluctant to impose it, or why politicians might have wanted to wait until it was inescapably necessary,” the article notes.

The authors conclude,

It seems to us that, in public debate, there are some people who think instinctively in terms of trade-offs while others believe all good things come together. Thus some point out that if you take drastic measures to limit GHG emissions there will be enormous human costs due to the economic impact, and they want proof the sacrifice is justified. Others view such questioning as mere stalling and call it immoral.

On this basis we suggest there probably is some correlation between people who want to look under the hood of the climate panic and those asking whether (a) COVID-19 is as lethal as we initially feared and (b) whether the lockdown can go on for months without serious loss of well-being including increased health problems and mortality among people suffering poverty and despair.
 

SOURCE: Climate Discussion Nexus


PUMPED STORAGE USES MORE ENERGY THAN IT PRODUCES

Every week The Week That Was, published by the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), carries a short note titled “Number of the Week.” The item for the April 4 edition discusses the source of stored energy most commonly used to back up wind and solar power, commercial-scale pumped hydro-storage, and the number is “20 percent.” As in the amount of net energy lost when using pumped hydro-storage.

SEPP writes, “The only method successfully tested on a commercial scale is pumped hydro-storage, which was first used in Switzerland in 1907. According to the EIA [Energy Information Administration]: ‘Pumped-storage currently accounts for 95 percent of all utility-scale energy storage in the United States.’”

A 2013 EIA study estimated, “In 2011, pumped storage plants produced 23 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of gross generation—roughly as much as petroleum-fired generation in that year. Pumped storage plants, however, consumed 29 billion kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity in 2011 to refill their storage reservoirs, resulting in a net generation loss of 6 billion kWh.”

Thus, the number of the week: pumping water to higher elevations to fill reservoirs as a backup to generate electricity when wind turbines go offline uses 20 percent more energy than it produces over the course of a year.

Interestingly, SEPP notes the largest pumped storage facility in the world, in Bath County, Virginia, uses coal- and nuclear-generated power to pump the water up thousands of feet in elevation to refill its reservoir.

SOURCE: Science and Environmental Policy Project


FRACKING NOT BEHIND RISING METHANE EMISSIONS

Climate alarmists have blamed natural gas production in shale fields for recent increases in atmospheric methane concentrations. With methane being the third-most important greenhouse gas (after water vapor and carbon dioxide), a recent study in Nature teases out the sources for the increase in methane emissions since 2008 and finds shale gas production is not the cause of the increase.

Methane from various sources—wells, livestock, wetlands, termite mounds, etc.—contains distinctive isotopic ratios of methane. The researchers gathered more than 1,600 air quality samples from regions accounting for approximately 97 percent of global shale gas production.

Despite the rapid increase in shale gas production since 2008, particularly in the United States but also in Argentina, Canada, and China, “changing emissions of other (isotopically-lighter) CH4 source terms is dominating the increase in global CH4 emissions,” the study states. “Although production of shale gas has increased rapidly since 2008, and CH4 emissions associated with this increased production are expected to have increased overall in that timeframe, the simultaneously-observed increase in global atmospheric CH4 is not dominated by emissions from shale gas and shale oil developments.”

The researchers conclude claims that methane emissions from oil and gas development dominate the measured increase in global methane are “not consistent with global observations. … [W]e conclude that the increases in global atmospheric CH4 concentrations since 2008 are not as strongly attributable to shale gas and conventional oil and gas emissions as some studies claim.”

SOURCE: Nature: Scientific Reports

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

Related Podcast