There are no proven risks to public health were the temperature of the planet to warm a couple of degrees. In fact while no warming is being experienced at present, were it to occur, mankind would likely only experience benefits. The Earth is far more likely to cool in the coming decades which does carry increased stresses on life expectancy. It is time to put to rest the many health scares being foisted upon society by the alarmists claiming a little extra warmth is a disaster.

In addition to the scares of submerging coastal cities, famine from droughts and floods, more intense tropical storms, failing agriculture and water shortages, the health angle focuses on fears of increasing sickness and death from heat waves, air pollution and disease. But these health fears are not only baseless, they defy common sense.

The idea that a warming planet will cause more sickness and death, is certainly not supported by human experience or scientific studies. Do we suffer more illness during the cold of winter or the warm summer. For most people the answer is winter.

According to the US Center for Disease Control, the US influenza season is from November to April, the winter months. The World Health Organization defines the Southern Hemisphere flu season to be from May to October which are the winter months for that portion of the planet. It has always been true that more people get sick during cold weather than warm weather, and more people die as a result. The late Dr. William Keating Professor of physiology at Queen Mary and Westfield College led a team in 2000 that studied temperature related deaths for people between the ages of 65 and 74 in England, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands. They found that deaths related to cold temperatures were more than nine times greater than those related to hot temperatures in those countries. Heart attacks, strokes and respiratory illness were responsible for most of the cold weather deaths.

A similar study was conducted by Dr. Matthew Falagas at the Alfa Institute of Medical Science in Athens, Greece, studied seasonal mortality for Australia, Canada, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Spain, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States. It showed the average number of deaths per month was lowest in summer and fall and peaked in the cold months for all nations.

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, adjunct Professor of the Copenhagen Business School points out that any global warming that occurs will likely reduce human mortality. He calculates that in Great Britain alone 25,000 to 50,000 die each year from excess cold.

Many of us have older relatives who retire not to Alaska, Canada and North Dakota but to Florida, Texas and Arizona where the weather is more conducive to better health.

Most scientific studies show that temperature is a minor factor in the spread of disease. Dr. Paul Reiter, medical entomologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, points out that malaria was endemic to England during the colder climate of the little Ice Age in the 18th and 19th centuries . Reiter also reported that the Soviet Union experienced an estimated 16 million cases of malaria during the years 1923-1925 with 30,000 cases in Archangel, a city located very close to the Arctic Circle.

Despite the rise in 20th century temperature, as the Little Ice Age came to a close, infectious diseases including dysentery, typhoid, tuberculosis and malaria have all been eliminated in developed countries. The real reasons were improved sanitation, water purification, vaccines, mosquito control and other public health programs. Temperature was and is an insignificant factor.

Ignoring the lack of evidence for any real health impacts from warmer temperatures is central to global warming alarmists efforts to make the public fearful. Recent surveys show global warming is at the bottom of topics that concern the public, but do not expect the fear mongering to end any time soon.

Author

  • Jay Lehr is the author of more than 1,000 magazine and journal articles and 36 books. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government, as well as many foreign countries. He is a leading authority on groundwater hydrology.