leg-iron (leg_iron) wrote,

A plague on global warmers.

I picked up a story on the Libertarian blog about the new diseases we can expect as a 'result of climate change'. It is scaremongering of the highest order and worth tearing apart. Since disease and finding cures for them is my day job, I downloaded the pretty brochure and had a laugh.

Here are the 'deadly dozen':

1. Avian influenza. A virus spread by birds along migratory routes. It might indeed manage to spread by human-human contact, and it might turn out to be nasty, but it has nothing at all to do with climate change. Viruses do not reproduce outside their hosts. Outside temperature is irrelevant. If it becomes a serious human pathogen, it will be entirely unconnected with climate and will affect everyone from the Arctic to the equator. No score, Greenies.

2. Babesia. A tick-borne disease, so far not a serious human threat. We have ticks in the UK now. Climate won't matter. No score, Greenies.

3. Cholera. Used to be common in the UK before decent sewers. It's already here. It's caused by sewerage leaking into water supplies. Unless our society collapses (which it might) we don't have to worry about cholera. No connection with climate. No score, Greenies.

4. Ebola. Another virus. See 1. No score, Greenies.

5. Intestinal and external parasites. Lovely generic term, covering Salmonella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, bot-fly and many others we already have. Giardia might manage to grow if the average temperature went up by about five degrees but even the rabid Greenies aren't claiming that. I'll award a half point for this one but it's a grudging half point because this is so generic as to be worthless.

6. Plague. We had that in the UK in the mid 1600's between the civil war and the Fire of London. About the time of the little ice age. It was spread by rats, and rats are still here. No climate connection. No score, Greenies.

7. Lyme disease. Spread by rats, through urine. You can catch this by drinking beer from a bottle in a pub, if the cellar has rats. It's already in the UK although fortunately not too common. No climate connection. No score, Greenies.

8. Red tides. These already happen, even in the North of Scotland. It's the reason you don't eat shellfish unless there's an 'R' in the month. The red algal blooms are toxic and are taken up by the shellfish. They occur between May and August. They happen now and have happened for centuries. Nothing new, no climate connection, no score.

9. Rift valley fever. A virus. See 1. No score.

10. Sleeping sickness. Spread by the tsetse fly and common in sub-Saharan Africa. To let that fly flourish here, the UK would have to warm up a lot and produce some decent hot swamps. Not likely, even if the scaremongers are right. Still, I'll give the Greenies half a point out of sympathy.

11. Tuberculosis. Been in the UK a long, long time, and still here. It's making a big comeback because it has an antibiotic-resistant variant. Nothing to do with climate. No score, Greenies.

12. Yellow fever. A virus. Its spread is controlled by compulsory inoculation of anyone travelling to the affected areas. The reason for that is it's a virus, so it's not contained by climate. If it was, there'd be no need for compulsory inoculation. No score, Greenies.

So, out of a possible twelve, the Greenie scaremongers score one. And that's because I'm in a good mood. This whole pamphlet will only work because nobody knows a damn thing about history. Most of those diseases have been eradicated in this country by decent sewerage and water treatment. And, of course, Alexander Fleming's bad lab practice helped. It's interesting to note that penicillin could not possibly be discovered today. If you left plates of bacteria around, Health and Safety would have you fired.

Climate had nothing to do with it. Some, like tuberculosis, are still available for anyone who wants to try them. Climate had no effect on that either.

It's all crap, like the rest of the scary stuff. Its only purpose, like all things Green, is to con money out of us.

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