It has become all too common in the media, especially every time another United Nations climate conference like COP28 takes place, to blame every problem on climate change. The media and their go-to climate pundits reach far and wide to connect whatever tragic event is trending in the news to the modest warming of the past hundred or so years, and they do it no matter how tenuous the connection.
Some claims immediately stand out as ridiculous to even the casual observer, like the claim that the oceans are boiling, which is so stupid only someone who has blind trust in favored authorities bordering on pathological would believe it.
Other claims have the appearance of plausibility, at least at first glance, because the logic is relatively straightforward. Even then, existing data often contradicts the climate attribution. Taking a hypothesis, testing it, and then revising it based on the results used to be a thing called the “scientific method,” but apparently many in the media find that too boring and choose to spread unverified claims instead.
One of the common claims made by climate hucksters recently is that climate change is increasingly harming human health.
On the surface this might sound true. One of the examples often cited is that an increase in pollen will torment allergy sufferers. It is true that more plants due to carbon dioxide fertilization and longer stretches of plant-friendly weather certainly results in more pollen from some species. However, alarmism regarding this claim misses the broader point; better growing conditions means a lusher planet that better sustains human and animal life. Allergies are a misery, true, but they are manageable. Starvation is not so easily managed.
Voice of America (VOA) posted an article that pushes several other common claims about the supposed threat that climate change poses to human health, including extreme heat, air pollution, infectious diseases, and mental-health issues.
VOA reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared climate change the “single biggest health threat facing humanity.”
The first category highlighted is extreme heat.
Again, on the surface, this sounds possible. VOA writes that this year is “expected to be the hottest on record,” and cites a study that claims by 2050 five times more people will die of heat each year if 2°C warming occurs.
However, some of the data used to make the “hottest month/year” claim is suspect, due in part to the urban heat island effect, and a variety of natural factors, like increased water vapor from a massive volcanic eruption, the onset of a powerful El Niño, and increased solar activity.
Concerning the health impact of heat, the clear evidence and data show that cold temperatures kill far more people than hot temperatures and, as a result, overall deaths related to non-optimum temperatures have declined significantly.
Air pollution is next; the WHO asserts that outdoor air pollution driven by fossil fuel emissions kills millions, particularly in the form of particulate matter. This figure is refuted by real world data. Worse still for the claim, they admit that deaths from air pollution have fallen over time, even as fossil fuel use increased. Even the U.N.’s climate body does not connect global warming to “air pollution weather,” or temperature inversion conditions that may cause ground level ozone.
The claim that infectious diseases are on the rise due to climate is also unsubstantiated by data. VOA claims that because of animal migration, the risk of infectious disease will spread, especially those spread by mosquitos.
More than a dozen peer-reviewed studies show that temperature alone is not enough to guarantee migration or longer survival of mosquitoes or mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria.
One scientist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a paper that it’s “facile” to attribute regional resurgences of malaria to climate change.
Looking at other animal sources of disease outbreaks like the Bird Flu, the exotic animal trade and wet markets where animals are crammed in close quarters are a much more likely candidate. The WHO of all groups should know this.
VOA devotes only a small section to the final category, mental health, writing that worrying about warming “provoked rising anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress — particularly for people already struggling with these disorders[.]”
The blame for this health effect falls squarely on the media’s alarmist reporting. The mainstream media has increasingly used words like “catastrophe” and “uninhabitable” to describe the condition of the planet. This is despite the fact that data show weather is not getting worse.
Creating climate anxiety is explicitly the goal of media climate reporting. Bombarding their audiences with scare stories, facts to the contrary be damned, is aimed at motivating people into “taking action” and supporting severe restrictions on fossil-fuel use. Survivors of a natural disaster may also struggle with PTSD or similar ailments, but it doesn’t mean that climate change is the cause. VOA reporting that climate anxiety is a result of climate change itself is frankly disgusting.
In the end, objective scientific data does not show that human health is being negatively impacted by climate change, and it is certainly not the biggest health threat facing humanity.
It is also worth noting how suspicious it is that the WHO is jumping on the climate change alarm train, given their preference for parroting the Chinese Communist Party’s talking points. China also happens to have a near monopoly on “green” tech manufacturing, and stands to gain a lot from the West’s “transition.” I’d argue that the greatest human health threat is actually climate policy, because it is destabilizing the electric power grid, increasing food insecurity, and encouraging the world’s people to be increasingly reliant on the good will of the Chinese Communist Party. Climate change itself doesn’t even break the top 10 of humanitarian or health threats facing the world.
Photo by Ivan Radic. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.