Lancet, Other Outlets Keep Lying About Climate’s Impact on Health
Climate Change Weekly #382
It’s a sorry state of affairs when the mainstream media repeatedly reiterate false claims, as it has done in recent months concerning the purported harmful effects of supposed human-caused climate change. Among the media’s worst sins in this regard is the false claim that climate change is harming peoples’ health. Environmental extremists claim, for example, climate change is increasing the incidence and spread of diseases such as COVID-19, as the Los Angeles Times and Phys.org wrote earlier in 2020, and is increasing the number of people sickened or killed by insect-borne diseases such as malaria and zika, as was recently “reported” by both NPR and Rolling Stone.
The Heartland Institute website Climate Realism has repeatedly debunked these claims, citing real-world data and voluminous amounts of research showing if a modestly warming Earth has any effect on viruses and pandemics, it is to make them less likely and less severe.
Transmissible diseases such as the flu and the coronavirus are far more prevalent and deadly during the late fall, winter, and early spring, when the weather is cold and damp, than in the summer months, when it is warm and dry. Chapter 7 of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change report 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 seasons and colder climate eras rather than during warmer seasons and warmer eras. For instance, in a study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet in 2015, researchers examined 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—and found cold weather directly or indirectly killed 1,700 percent more people than hot weather. In case you are wondering, that is not a typo: 1,700 percent more people die from cold temperatures than from warm or hot temperatures. What this means is if the Earth continues its modest warming, any increase in the number of heat-related deaths will be vastly outnumbered by lives not lost to cold.
As to diseases carried and spread by insects, studies from throughout the world repeatedly find any alleged links between global warming and the spread of malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and other vector-borne diseases are either grossly overstated or outright false. For example, the authors of a 2010 study in the peer-reviewed science journal Nature
. . . compared historical and contemporary maps of the range and incidence of malaria and found endemic/stable malaria is likely to have covered 58% of the world’s land surface around 1900 but only 30% by 2007. Even more marked has been the decrease in prevalence within this greatly reduced range, with endemicity falling by one or more classes in over two-thirds of the current range of stable transmission. Widespread claims that rising mean temperatures have already led to increases in worldwide malaria morbidity and mortality are largely at odds with observed decreasing global trends in both its endemicity and geographic extent.
As bad as it is when so-called journalists substitute speculation for facts, it is even worse when professional journals publish articles which should not have passed peer review because they are clearly in error.
That brings us to today’s essay. The Lancet, among the oldest and most widely cited medical journals, recently published a review titled “The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises.” The report wrongly asserts warmer worldwide temperatures have caused a net loss of human lives, particularly among the world’s poor.
The truth is just the opposite. As Climate Realism has reported, even as the Earth has modestly warmed over the past century, the number of people injured or killed by weather-related events such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires has declined dramatically, as has the number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition. As evidence of the latter, although 700 million people worldwide still suffer from persistent hunger, the United Nations reports the number of hungry people has declined by two billion people since 1990.
For a direct response to The Lancet’s flawed article, I leave it to a more knowledgeable person than I: Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, who served as special advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher from 1982 to 1986. Lord Monckton, who has coauthored several peer-reviewed articles on climate science, responded to The Lancet article with a letter skewering its claims. The Lancet has not seen fit to publish Monckton’s response, so with his kind permission, we republish it in full below:
The Editor, The Lancet
Your notion of a “climate crisis” (editorial "Climate and COVID-19: converging crises," December 2; click here for the PDF), though fashionable among the classe politique, is misplaced. That notion sprang from an elementary error of physics perpetrated in the 1980s by climate scientists who had borrowed feedback formulism from control theory, another branch of physics, without quite understanding it. Interdisciplinary compartmentalization delayed its identification until now.
After correcting the error, anthropogenic global warming will be only one-third of current midrange projections, well within natural variability and net-beneficial to life and health. CO2 fertilization (for CO2 is plant food) has assisted in steadily increasing crop yields—this year’s global harvest has set yet another record—and in improving drought resistance (Hao et al., 2014) and greening the planet.
Your suggestion that warmer worldwide weather has caused net loss of life, particularly among the world’s fast-declining population of poor people, is fashionable but misplaced. Cold is a bigger killer than warmth. Research conducted three years ago for the European Commission found that, for this reason, even if there were 5.4 C° global warming from 2020-2080, there would be 100,000 more Europeans than with no warming at all.
However, now that nearly all major banks—citing “global warming” as their pretext—refuse to lend to developing countries for coal-fired electricity, a billion people lack the capacity to turn on a 60 W lightbulb for just four hours a day (the International Energy Agency’s scarcely generous definition of “access to electricity”). According to the WHO, 4 million annually die of particulate pollution from smoke in cooking fires because they lack domestic electrical power and, for the same lack, 500,000 women die in childbirth. These are just two of the many causes of death from lack of access to electricity that kill tens of millions annually. The chief reason why so many cannot turn on a light is not global warming but misconceived policies intended to address what is in reality a non-problem.
More than 90% of all new greenhouse-gas emissions (BP Annual Review of Energy, 2019) are in nations exempt from the Paris agreement, which, after correction of the error of physics, is in any event supererogatory. You have said China must do more, but China—though it has its own space programme and continues to occupy Tibet by military force—is exempt from Paris on the ground that it is a “developing country.” It is not required to forswear its sins of emission.
Your advocacy of “low-carbon diets” is fashionable but misplaced. Like it or not, we have evolved over 2 million years to eat meat, which can provide all necessary energy, nutrients and vitamins. Yet ill-informed official guidelines on both sides of the Atlantic recommend low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets. Those recommendations have demonstrably been the chief cause of the surge in obesity and diabetes in both the UK and the USA. They were abandoned by court order a decade ago in Sweden at the instance of a brave doctor whom the medical authorities had attempted to prosecute because she cured all her diabetes patients by ignoring the guidelines and recommending a high-fat, low-carb diet.
Your advocacy of “renewable” energy is fashionable but misplaced. Using 14th-century technology to address a 21st-century non-problem would be silly enough in itself. What is worse, however, is that “renewables” have not only quadrupled the price of electricity but have also added to CO2 emissions. The chief reason for this apparent paradox is that the more windmills and solar panels are connected to the grid the more grossly-inefficient, CO2-emitting spinning reserve must be maintained in the often vain hope of preventing blackouts when the wind stops or the night falls.
With respect, The Lancet should study more science and economics, however unfashionable, and peddle less totalitarian politics, however fashionable and profitable—and deadly.
With all good wishes,
Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
"Climate of Error: The grave error of physics that created a climate 'emergency'"; Alex Henney, Christopher Monckton of Brenchley (2020).
"The 2020 report of The Lancet—Countdown on health and climate change: Responding to converging crises," The Lancet, December 2, 2020.
To sum up, when it comes to climate change and people’s health, as the Beatles sang long ago in another context, “It’s getting better all the time!”
— Lord Christopher Monckton (guest essayist) and H. Sterling Burnett
IN THIS ISSUE …
U.N. ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM HIT WITH FRAUD ALLEGATIONS … CORALS CAN ADAPT TO LONG-TERM HEAT WAVES
U.N. ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM HIT WITH FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is facing multiple allegations of corruption, fraud, and misuse of funds in the multibillion-dollar Global Environment Facility (GEF) dedicated to helping developing countries respond and adapt to climate.
The Financial Times obtained a copy of a November 2020 draft report by the UNDP’s office of audit and investigations describing “financial misstatements” worth millions of dollars across UNDP’s international GEF-funded projects.
“Issues identified by the audit could seriously compromise the achievement of the objectives of the audited entity,” the report states.
Established to address environmental challenges such as climate change, deforestation, pollution, and species conservation, the GEF has disbursed more than $21 billion in 170 countries, including $7 billion in projects managed by the UNDP.
The 2018-2019 audit of the UNDP’s GEF-funded projects, the first the agency had undertaken since 2013, came only after multiple outside investigations alleged program managers, contractors, and personnel misused or misdirected funds granted to the program by international donor countries. “Foreign Policy in 2019 published whistleblower accounts alleging the misappropriation of millions of dollars at a UNDP-run GEF project in Russia,” the Financial Times reports. “Twelve donor countries—including the US, France, Australia and Japan—have since sought an independent review of the UNDP’s handling of that project.”
“Matters of misconduct and misappropriation of funds continue to obstruct sustainable development across the world,” said a March letter from donors demanding an investigation of the program, sent to UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.
The UNDP’s report cites project audits from independent consultants and written complaints from current and former UNDP employees indicating financial misconduct and poor oversight hampered the design and success of numerous projects funded by the UNDP, including ventures in Russia, South Korea, and Uzbekistan.
According to the Financial Times, independent reviews of a project in Uzbekistan found the financial information provided by the UNDP was unreliable and “must be questioned.” A longtime UNDP consultant complained that when employees or external reviewers raised questions about how or why money was being spent and the efficacy of the spending, senior staff ignored their concerns.
“The words ‘climate’ and ‘corruption’, people see these as two different worlds, but there is a lot of overlap,” said Brice Böhmer, the head of climate governance integrity at Transparency International, an international anti-corruption group, reports the Financial Times, summing up the audit’s findings.
CORALS CAN ADAPT TO LONG-TERM HEAT WAVES
A new paper published in the journal Nature, from scientists at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, shows corals are more resilient to bleaching induced by long-term ocean warming than climate alarmists have claimed.
This research is the first to study corals’ response to extended warming—warming lasting for months rather than a few days or weeks. In particular, the researchers studied the responses of two types of coral comprising reefs around Kiritimati in the central Pacific Ocean during a heat wave that increased local ocean temperatures by approximately 1℃ and lasted for 10 months beginning in May 2015. Corals housing heat-sensitive algae bleached sooner than those housing heat-tolerant algae, although as the water continued to warm, even heat-tolerant algae were ejected and bleaching occurred, the scientists found. What surprised the researchers is how many of the coral adapted to warmer waters, with many corals recovering from bleaching while the water was still unusually warm rather than only recovering after water temperatures cooled. Also unexpectedly, the researchers found the corals containing heat-sensitive algae, those which bleached earlier, had a higher recovery rate, 82 percent, than those that began with heat-tolerant algae, only 25 percent of which recovered during the study period.
“Observing corals recovering from bleaching while still baking in hot waters is a game changer,” said marine biologist Julia Baum, the senior researcher in the study.
The study also indicates corals are more likely to recover from extended heat and bleaching if they have not also been exposed to multiple other types of stressors such as overfishing and water pollution from agricultural runoff and sewage.
“We’ve found a glimmer of hope that protection from local stressors can help corals,” Baum said in comments on the study.