A note from Mike Catanzaro of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staff:

During a recent Senate Commerce Committee hearing on global warming, proponents of mandatory energy suppression declared, in their usual glib manner, that the “consequences” of global warming (a term left conspicuously undefined) are “extremely serious.” As we have seen, “serious consequences” is alarmist code for hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc., but also within that category is an increase in serious diseases (dengue fever, malaria). At what temperature level those maladies become more rife, more pervasive, and more afflicting is never stated. NRDC contends, first tentatively, then more confidently, that the spread of global-warming-induced disease is essentially occurring now: “Global warming is expected to increase the potential geographic range and virulence of tropical diseases…Disease-carrying mosquitoes are spreading as climate shifts allow them to survive in formerly inhospitable areas.” Environmental Defense, sticking with the subjunctive, reaches a more hesitant, though no less alarmist, conclusion: “If the warming continues as scientists expect, we face the possibility of…insect-borne tropical diseases” (presumably the “we” means Americans).

FACT: There is no connection between global warming and outbreaks or increases in disease, tropical or otherwise. Dr. Paul Reiter, who worked for 22 years as a medical entomologist for the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Disease of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and now head of the new unit of Insects and Infectious Disease at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, recently complained that those making such connections (including the U.N.’s IPCC) are “exploiting common misconceptions: mosquito-borne diseases are ‘tropical,’ hot weather and heavy rainfall mean more mosquitoes, mosquitoes die if the weather is cold, and more mosquitoes mean more infections.” As he put it, “It is immoral for the political activists to mislead the public by attributing the recent resurgence of these diseases to climate change, particularly in Africa. The true reasons are far more complex, and the principal determinants are politics, economics, and human activities. A creative and organized application of resources to change the situation is urgently needed, regardless of future climate.”

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