Skip Navigation

Shameless Alarmists Spread Climate Change Cancer Horror Story

May 21, 2020

Climate Change Weekly #360

Over the years I’ve become almost inured to the crazy claims various climate alarmists have made. They have tried to link almost every bad thing that happens in the world to climate change, from psychiatric disorders to violent crime, from the end of winter sports to reduced milk production, from hair loss to the loss of one’s sex drive. And no, in case you are wondering, I’m not making these examples up: you can find the articles yourselves by typing the terms into your favorite search engine.

None of these claims, nor any of the myriad other loony links alarmists have tried to establish between human fossil fuel use and bad outcomes, have any basis in facts or hard data. Now, adding insult to injury, an article in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, irresponsibly hyped by CNBC, is falsely claiming “[c]limate change has triggered more frequent weather disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, … lower[ing] cancer survival rate[s] and threaten[ing] prevention.”

This article shows, once again, alarmists truly have no shame when it comes to scaremongering and preying on the most vulnerable to increase their political power and funding.

The cancer researchers claim climate change is causing more frequent and severe hurricane and wildfire seasons, resulting in people being unable to receive lifesaving care such as operations, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments during and in the aftermath of hurricanes and wildfires.

According to the paper, CNBC writes, “Extreme weather disasters also lower cancer survival rates. One study shows that cancer patients were 19 percent more likely to die when hurricane declarations were made during their therapy because of treatment interruptions compared with patients who had regular access to care.

“‘For patients with cancer, the effects of hurricanes on access to cancer care can mean the difference between life and death,’ the authors wrote,” CNBC reports.

Contrary to these scary claims, human-induced climate change cannot be causing increased mortality from cancer, because data show no evidence hurricanes or wildfires are becoming more severe or frequent.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds no evidence of any increase in the frequency or severity of hurricanes as Earth has modestly warmed, with the IPCC’s 2018 Interim Report stating there is “only low confidence for the attribution of any detectable changes in tropical cyclone activity to anthropogenic influences.”

As Climate at a Glance: Hurricanes points out, hurricane strikes on the United States are at an all-time low, with America recently experiencing more than a decade (2005 through 2017) without a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) striking the United States—the longest such period in recorded history. The United States also recently experienced the fewest hurricane strikes in any eight-year period (2009 through 2017) in recorded history.

Nor are recent wildfire seasons more severe or affecting larger areas than the United States has historically experienced. Drought is the among the most important factors contributing to wildfires, and Climate at a Glance: Drought reports the United States is undergoing its longest period in recorded history without at least 40 percent of the country experiencing “very dry” conditions. Peak droughts in 1978, 1954, 1930, and 1900 were much larger than what the United States has experienced in the 21st century and in the late 20th century. Indeed, in 2017 and 2019, the United States registered its smallest percentage of land area in drought in recorded history.

The most recent data from the National Integrated Drought Information System shows only 0.39 percent of the country is experiencing extreme drought and 76 percent of the country is not experiencing drought or even below-average rainfall at present. In addition, the IPCC reports with “high confidence” precipitation over mid-latitude land areas of the Northern Hemisphere (including the United States) has increased during the past 70 years, and the IPCC has “low confidence” about any negative trends globally.

Since drought conditions are low, and drought is the single biggest factor behind wildfires, it should come as no surprise to learn, contra the cancer paper’s assertions, wildfires have neither become more frequent nor larger in recent years. In the few regions that have experienced particularly severe wildfires, such as California and Australia, the root cause is government policies preventing proper land management in areas prone to wildfires.

Although there is limited evidence human fossil fuel use is driving dangerous climate change, there is copious evidence widespread fossil fuel use has saved lives by making modern cancer treatments and natural disaster response and recovery possible.

Fossil fuels are the bedrock of modern medicine, which has reduced mortality from cancer and increased lifespans. Contemporary health care, including cancer treatments, depends on sterile plastics made from fossil fuels, such as IV drip bags and tubing, medical machinery, electronics casings, and syringes.

Hospitals, ambulances, operating rooms, emergency rooms, and clinics cannot function without coal, natural gas, and oil. Medical refrigeration units, CT scanning machines, MRIs, X-rays, laser scalpels, ventilators, incubators, and even lights require reliable electric power, which fossil fuels provide more affordably and dependably than alternative sources.

In fact, every hurricane or wildfire season demonstrates the criticality of fossil fuels to humankind’s responses to the vagaries of nature. No industry does more than the fossil fuel industry to help hurricane- and wildfire-stricken areas recover. Fossil fuels power the boats, helicopters, and other modes of transportation the Coast Guard, fire departments, military, and police use to evacuate people from flood and wildfire zones. Fossil fuels power the fire trucks used to fight wildfires, and the airplanes that deliver “smoke jumpers” and flame retardant to wildfire sites inaccessible to vehicles.

Fossil fuels also power the eighteen-wheelers that deliver water, food, blankets, and other relief supplies, the ambulances carrying those hurt during storms and wildfires or needing transport from medical facilities and nursing homes damaged or left without power by natural disasters. Fossil fuels also power the utility vehicles sent to get the power back on. The list goes on.

When power lines go down during hurricanes and wildfires, it is backup generators powered by diesel, natural gas, or liquid propane that deliver electricity to apartment residents, hospital patients, people in nursing homes, and others. Gasoline-powered chainsaws cut apart the fallen trees blocking the roads, and diesel-powered trucks haul it off. Utility companies use diesel-powered cranes to reattach wires and get the power back on.

The plastics in cell phones, computers, and equipment keeping people connected and informed are made in part from, and were manufactured using, oil and natural gas. The silica necessary for microchips at the core of these technologies was mined by diesel-powered mining equipment. Fossil fuels power the advanced warning systems that give people time to evacuate or take shelter as hurricanes or tornadoes approach, the weather planes that literally fly through cyclones, and the 24/7 communications systems that enable meteorologists to report on hurricane and wildfire movements.

Obviously, natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires make it more difficult for people with cancer to get proper treatment, as is true for people suffering from other terrible diseases and maladies. But there is no evidence climate change is making extreme weather more common, so there is no basis to claim climate change is decreasing cancer survival rates or preventing proper treatment. Statements to the contrary are alarmist horror fiction lacking any basis in fact.

—    H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: CNBC; Climate at a Glance; Climate at a Glance; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Climate Realism; National Integrated Drought Information System


IN THIS ISSUE …

EUROPE REJECTS CLIMATE RESTRICTIONS FOR CORONAVIRUS RECOVERY … GREENING PLANET MAY HIT PARIS AGREEMENT GOALS … MEXICO JOINS ANTI-RENEWABLE BANDWAGON


EUROPE REJECTS CLIMATE RESTRICTIONS FOR CORONAVIRUS RECOVERY

The European Commission (EC) has decided not to impose any conditions relating to climate change or reducing carbon dioxide emissions on companies and industries applying for aid in response to the coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdowns.

The EC, the E.U. agency overseeing and regulating competition within the bloc and internationally, says it lacks the authority to impose conditions unrelated to competition on the current round of aid.

The EC has so far approved more than €1.9 trillion in national aid by EU member states. Forbes reports, “Airlines, which are facing an unprecedented liquidity crisis as a result of the collapse in passenger demand, have so far requested €30 billion in bailouts,” with member states having approved €11.5 billion in aid thus far.

Although the EC lacks the authority to impose climate-related provisions on the aid it disburses, it told member states they are “free to design national measures in line with additional policy objectives” such as climate aims. Thus far, only France has imposed climate requirements as a precondition for receiving aid, telling Air France in must cancel domestic flights on routes for which there is competing high-speed rail service as a condition of receiving any coronavirus aid.

SOURCE: Global Warming Policy Forum; Forbes


GREENING PLANET MAY HIT PARIS AGREEMENT GOALS

New research published in Global Change Biology finds the greening effect of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is much greater than had been previously believed. The authors, an international team of scientists from research institutes and universities in Australia, France, New Zealand, and Sweden, used a biophysical model and observational data to calculate global primary productivity (GPP), the net change in standing vegetation per year, and to project future GPP using climate model forecasts.

The study found there has been a 30 percent increase in global photosynthesis from increased carbon dioxide levels since 1900. This is almost double the 17 ± 4 percent found in previous estimates of the fertilization effect of rising carbon dioxide, estimates which failed to consider the full range of factors affecting and limiting carbon dioxide uptake. Looking forward, the GPP should increase by 47 percent in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations above preindustrial levels.

Discussing the research, climate scientist Pat Michaels noted the plant growth enhancement calculated in this paper was 300 percent larger than the amount forecast in the IPCC’s 2013 report. In addition, Michaels points out, the estimates of global greening developed in this paper match satellite-observed changes in leaf-area index described in prior research.

As a result of the carbon dioxide fertilization effect, under low‐emission scenario climate model projections the land carbon sink will top 174 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide captured by the Earth from 2006 through 2099, 57 billion tons more than previous estimates of the fertilization effect, the researchers conclude. If this is correct, the carbon-dioxide-induced greening will remove enough atmospheric carbon dioxide over a 100 year period to cancel out 17 full years’ worth of carbon-dioxide emissions at the current rate of discharge.

All other things being equal, if carbon dioxide is driving temperature increases, the global greening forecast in this paper should by itself keep global temperatures below the 2°C warming increase established as the goal under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

SOURCE: Climate etc.; Competitive Enterprise Institute; Global Change Biology


MEXICO JOINS ANTI-RENEWABLE BANDWAGON

Mexico’s National Energy Control Center (Cenace) announced in early May it was suspending new grid connections of solar and wind farms until further notice.

An OilPrice.com article points out Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has long criticized wind and solar power, noting neither produces much energy and that companies building wind and solar industrial facilities require subsidies. Obrador has also complained wind farms harm the environment and cause “visual pollution,” vowing the Mexican government would stop issuing permits for new wind and solar construction.

Cenace cited none of Obrador’s criticisms when announcing it was halting wind and solar grid connections, instead saying the decision was motivated by concerns the intermittent nature of solar and wind power generation was compromising grid reliability.

“The intermittent generation from wind and PV plants affects the reliability of the national electricity system, [impacting] the sufficiency, quality and continuity of power supply,” Cenace stated in document establishing rules for Mexico’s electricity market during the Covid-19 lockdown.

SOURCE: Oil Price

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
Climate Chronicles Episode 3: The Scientific Case of Vacating the EPA's Endangerment Finding

Related News & Opinion View All News

Related Podcast