The Coronavirus is now a “global health emergency” according to the World Health Organization. Not to worry: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is on the case and she has a plan: fight global warming!

For seemingly every problem facing America, real or imagined, Sen. Warren has a plan to fix it. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus in China, Liz Warren sprung to action by promising more money for federal and international agencies to fight infectious diseases.  Another prescription she proposes for pandemic outbreaks is to “fight climate change.” Seriously.

Sen. Warren’s many plans for America are doozies, and a cross between silly and dangerous.  Several months ago she unveiled her Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system estimated to cost $52 trillion. That unrealistic price tag may have been a turning point in her campaign, as she has since struggled in the polls among Democratic voters.

Still, her beat goes on.

Sen. Warren’s plan to prevent, contain and treat infectious diseases at home and abroad ignores the fact that federal bureaucracies have gotten robust funding increases every year. The Centers for Disease Control, for example, got a healthy multi-million dollar funding increase this year. There is no shortage of government money for such purposes.

Sen. Warren also brings in climate change by claiming, “a changing climate means infectious diseases will spread to new places.”  Sen. Warren assures us that she has “a lot of plans” for that, too, including re-signing the Paris Climate Accords from which President Trump withdrew; investing in the “Green Climate Fund” to fight pandemics; and her own multi-trillion dollar version of the Green New Deal.

A reminder: U.S. re-entry to the Paris Climate Accords and funding some international money pit will not stop infectious disease from spreading. Reducing carbon emissions from using less fossil fuel brings no guarantee of a cooler climate, much less would it combat infectious diseases in the present day or near-term.

The Coronavirus, the Ebola virus, and other infectious diseases typically spring from less developed parts of the globe. Other forgone diseases that have resurfaced in the United States have resulted from rampant inner city homeless populations. Last summer, there were at least 124 cases of Typhus reported in the city of Los Angeles.

Rather than some vacuous promise to cool down climate change in 30 years to fight disease, the planet instead needs less poverty and more development. Cleaner drinking water, cheap energy and better sanitary conditions in the developing world would go much further in fighting and preventing worldwide diseases than fighting climate change. Instead of eliminating fossil fuels, the developing world needs such cheaper, plentiful energy to build a larger middle class and healthier environs.

Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal made the point recently that infectious diseases have been less rampant over time, in part due to the growing sophistication of larger, more efficient farms. Agribusinesses in China, for example, are increasingly mass-producing food by using a single species on a single site, while smaller farms with multiple animal products—which bring greater risk of spreading viruses—are phasing out. He cited an example of farms with more than 500 hogs were responsible for 75 percent of the nation’s pork production in 2015, which was triple the share from seven years prior.

As China and the developing world have found more technologically sound ways to mass-produce food, the outbreak of infectious diseases has diminished.

America should invest wisely and efficaciously to fight infectious disease. Economic and technological progress in agriculture and food production, along with ongoing research and development in disease prevention and life-saving immunizations will do more to protect public health than Sen. Warren’s plans for trillions of dollars to “fight climate change.”

Author

  • Peter Murphy, a CFACT analyst, has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the New York Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post and the Wall Street Journal.