Effect Measure

The climate change disease train

We can argue about the cause, but climate is changing. It may be called global warming but the effect most people will see is an increased variability of weather events, with more frequent extreme weather. Little things. Like Hurricane Katrina. WHO is among many warning that it is not only the physical effects that will affect people, but changes in disease patterns as well, with the brunt of climate change linked disease deaths coming from the Asia-Pacific region:

Shigeru Omi, WHO director for the Western Pacific region based in Manila, said “the impact of climate change will be felt more in developing countries,” which have fewer resources to deal with it.

Unlike other health crises, like bird flu, which can be alleviated, “it is inevitable climate change will get worse for some time,” Omi said.

He cited evidence that malaria was now appearing in areas such as the highlands of Papua New Guinea, which were once considered too cold for mosquitoes that spread the disease. (AFP)

I’m not quite so sure that bird flu can “be alleviated” but I agree the forces which are affecting a change in climate have tremendous inertia and can be altered only with difficulty and expense. Moreover any change in climate perturbs a very complicated set of interactions between people, animals, pathogens and the environment with unpredictable but usually bad consequences. Combine this with wars, civil strife, unprecedented mobility, population migrations, deterioration of resources, infrastructure and social services and likely effects of climate change on agriculture and nutrition and we have a disease generating witches brew.

By all means let’s continue to argue about the cause of climate change. Continued debate about climate change is healthy, especially for oil companies. Maybe we’ll even have it settled in time to prepare for all those diseases — like pandemic influenza — that come roaring out of Asia like a freight train.


  1. #1 bigdudeisme
    April 8, 2008

    I just read an article last week published by the BBC that the weather has been getting cooler each year since 1998. We are also in a La Nina pattern right now and it will continue to get cooler, so the weather is definitly changing, but it is not global warming, it is global cooling. Now we need to figure out what effect that will have on disease patterns.

    Of course, we should take Al Gore’s Nobel prize back for the crappy movie and false information he has been spewing to us for the last few years.

  2. #2 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 8, 2008


    I think the Manchurian Candidate should take the 300 million he sucked people into and put it into hydrogen cell technology. Not so much for climate change but to stick it into the heart of the OPEC. 109 a barrel. It started to be cost effective at 60 for alternative fuels, at 80 it was cost effective for hydrogen…. we are beyond the pale now and into uncharted territory other than to say water is going to be the fuel of the future.

  3. #3 Hank Roberts
    April 8, 2008

    >article in the BBC
    If so they don’t understand how we identify trends. It takes more than a few years to do.


    “… By 2015, the expected temperature from the regression-line fit and that expected from the “no change” hypothesis will be far enough apart that we’ll probably be able to distinguish between them with statistical significance. In other words, by 2015 either we’ll know that global warming has changed (possibly stopping, possibly reversing), or there’ll be no more of this “global warming stopped in 1998? malarkey…”

  4. #4 pft
    April 8, 2008

    Suns getting hotter, at least it has for the last 100 years, the polar caps on Mars have been melting, so unless there are green men hiding somewhere there, it is not due to man. If anything, man is probably keeping us cooler on Earth due to the particulates in the air that are man made. Man made global warming is most likely a hoax so they can push through the carbon tax when we get our global government

    Looking at 20 years to pronounce a cooling trend on Earth is like watching the Dow for 1 day and pronouncing a bull market when it goes up 100 points. Even 100 years is too short to conclude anything.

    Climate has all sorts of feedback mechanisms that kick in when the temperature goes up or down, it sort of self regulates. Not to say there can not be a trigger in which one of the systems fail, which would cause rapid and significant climate change, but I doubt anybody knows for sure what that trigger might be, and I am skeptical it is man made CO2 as this accounts for only 3% of atmospheric CO2.

    That said, we should study this and keep an open mind, since noboday can say for sure, and certainly reducing CO2 emmissions can’t be a bad thing so long as we don’t have to break the bank to do it, and lower standard of living any further.

  5. #5 terrymcneely
    April 8, 2008

    tmc: the BBC news article did NOT say climate is getting cooler each year since 1998.

  6. #6 bar
    April 9, 2008

    I did a calculation (comments July 2007) that estimated that anthropomorphic carbon added about 1% pa of carbon to the atmosphere. Back circa 1955 we were taught that CO2 was 0.28% of the atmosphere. Now Google quotes it as 0.38%.
    Making fairly simple approximations, it looks as though most of that anthropomorphic carbon has gone straight into the atmosphere and stayed there.

    MRK The trouble with alternative fuels is that it takes energy to produce those alternatives. So where do you get the energy to produce the alternatives? Those figures you quote ($60/bbl alternative fuels, $80/bbl hydrogen equivalent) were most likely based on the cost of energy from the grid (coal etc).

    Two other problems, (1) those quotes you gave ($60/bbl & $80/bbl) are probably a few decades old. I think it might be closer to $100/bbl – $140/bbl in 2008. (2) Anyone considering investing the amount of capital necessary to produce those alternatives would want near certainty that the oil sheiks were not going to drop the price of oil below their “break even” price.

  7. #7 bar
    April 9, 2008

    oops.. 0.028% and 0.038%

  8. #8 bigdudeisme
    April 9, 2008

    Hey Hank,

    I read the article in your link and see you just did a cut and paste for your comment. What you have nothing original to say? What about having data on the dates from 1998 until 2008, that is what I am interested in. Have those organizations supply that data and let’s see what that shows. Besides, what they are showing only says what, less than a .002 of a degree warming trend in the last 33 years? Wow, I had better open my collar, that is really warming me up. Not too impressive of a number for a Nobel prize to be given to anybody. Maybe it will move some mosquitoes to the highlands, who knows, but it snowed like hell in China this winter and was their coldest winter in a hundred years.

    It is weird weather and I can’t explain it, but I don’t think anyone else can either. I think the earth just does what it wants with the weather and warms and cools as it wants in no set pattern, regardless of what man does. Don’t let your big egos get the best of you, man is insignificant compared to the amount of crap a volcano can spew into the atmosphere in a day or two. A volcano can really be a weather changer, but I don’t think man can unless he unleashes several hundred nuclear weapons at once.

  9. #9 M. Randolp;h Kruger
    April 9, 2008

    Actually Bar… the rep to the OPEC from Saudi Arabia said it last year on the numbers. He also said that they are not driving the price of oil up, its the hedge funds. The price of oil while they like it is driven by the market and those oil tankers are being bought and sold several times over on the way to destination. In otherwords the ENRON thing is underway, but fully legal.

    Enron had an energy hedge fund that was working against the consumers. They would buy at a higher price the surplus electricity in California. Then all they had to do was wait until it got past 95 and they made hundreds of millions. All perfectly legal. It was the introduction of hedge funds in the 70’s that allowed us to get out of the oil embargo, this time it had the same effect going the other way.

    Break even to the OPEC is whatever they say it is. They have but two products…Terrorists and oil. We stick it in their tails if we move to hydrogen immediately. You can make hydrogen with a DC source and two dissimilar metals and a solar panel. Its the gas to liquid that kills it so you need an AC propane pump. BUT if you do liquefy it and put it into a hydrogen cell you got a pretty much renewable resource.

    Then if global heating does occur, you get more hydrogen. Take the OPEC out of the equation. Wouldnt break my heart at all.

  10. #10 bigdudeisme
    April 9, 2008

    Ooops, sorry for the double posting, a computer error. When I checked my screen, it looked like it had never posted the message, so I sent again. Sorry about that.

  11. #11 SmellyTerror
    April 12, 2008

    The Mars-melt thing annoys me. Bloody National Geographic, with misleading-as-hell headlines, like idiots, have fed climate change deniers the thin gruel that keeps them going. But read as deep as page two:

    “Wobbles in the orbit of Mars are the main cause of its climate change in the current era,” Oxford’s Wilson explained. (Related: “Don’t Blame Sun for Global Warming, Study Says” [September 13, 2006].)

    …Mars and Earth wobble in different ways, and most scientists think it is pure coincidence that both planets are between ice ages right now.

    …and dude, you claim 0.002 degree change? Wow, where’d you pull that? Here’s the World Meteorological Organisation, an authority I value a nudge above the unsourced ramblings of a random blog poster, who gives 0.74C:


    I mean, what do these poor bastards have to do? They dedicate decades of hard work to build a scientific consensus, and random slobs think they can refute it by saying “well gosh darn, it SNOWED in CHINA!”

    Oh, and the volcano claim, like a tatoo that says “CANNOT BE TAUGHT” – gee, you’d think all them big-brains in the scientific community might have stumbled over that, qouldn’t you? Thank god there are a few folk like you fighting the good fight.

    But wait, maybe…. maybe they have something to say about it. Let’s ask the United States Geological Survey, shall we? From: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/Hazards/What/VolGas/volgas.html

    “Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes (Gerlach et. al., 2002)”

    So that’s a big NO.

    And yet, confidently asserted: “A volcano can really be a weather changer…” What do you say now, then? If a volcano can do it, according to your arse, what can 130 times all the volcanos on earth do? Hmmmm?

    So what do you do now? You say, “Sorry, I’ve been an ignorant dupe of special interest. I’ll stop spreading dangerous and idiotic disinformation and get right on that letter to my representative”.

  12. #12 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 12, 2008


    BTW ST….. By their own admission, the WMO has stated publically that they cannot guarantee the accuracy of most of the worlds temperature monitors. There is now an even bigger consensus that favors deployment of space based sensors for all of the worlds climate change forecasting.

    Here is my problem with the whole deal. Al “The Manchurian Candidate” Gore has crocked and cooked a lot of information to a single thought process. Is the climate changing. Yep, and for the last 13 months the world is reporting cooler temps. Volcano’s, pig farts or whatever it is changing. The assertion was that Greenland was melting…Well it might be because of under ice volcanic activity creating a water barrier between the ice and the supporting ground. It could be simply hydroplaning off. The ice in Antarctica has been falling off for at least 100 million years and the earth was once an ice ball rather than the big blue marble with a lot of water on as it is now. It was warmer 1000 years ago and apparently it was warmer just 60 years ago.

    I dont want to throw the baby out with the bath water but I certainly am not willing to go GORE with only 130 years of climate data to go on. Warm, Pelosi stands in Greenland and says she has seen the effects of global warming… Right where the Vikings farmed until the cold took over and ran them out of there. I agree we should save the planet but no one wants to quit having babies in the “developing nations”. What a crock of crap. The sheer numbers are whats going to do us and I would like to take my carbon footprint and stick it up the ass of some of these climatologists. They cannot PROVE anything based on what we have and the arguments about what is really going on, tip over and everything else is the most dangerous one we have right now. I fully support anyones right to say anything, but I certainly have to be shown proof and neither side has done that. If the GW people are right, it doesnt matter because of the total number of people on this planet in 50 years. Just from breathing they will expel enough Co2 to kill us all. Clearing of land for those people will release millions of tons of Co2, not to mention the other GHG’s. Hey, how bout that ethanol? Creates more pollution to make it than it does to just leave it alone. Hydrogen? Well maybe…. but thats only if you ascribe to GW. Personally I think the Russians are right, we are heading into a cool down… Just as we have for just about every 40 years for the last 1000. Milankovitch Cycle? I honestly dont know but I know I am not losing any sleep over it because all of this stuff comes out each and every time a Republican takes office. Its not an issue when a Democrat is in there.

    Wont matter anyway… Obama is going to tax the shit out of us and everyone will be on the inflation train. 200 dollar a barrel oil.
    “big decision”

  13. #13 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 15, 2008


    And now we have global starvation due to “Going green”? In less than two years there are going to be 100 million every year that could very likely starve to death. Thus we eliminate 100 million carbon footprints. Save the planet? Yeah, kill the inhabitants rather than just letting nature take its course. Then it will be blamed on the US and EU. .

    If you are Biblical in nature….

    Luke 21:11 “and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven”

    So now we are going to go to food wars too……

    Good going greenies…….

  14. #14 SmellyTerror
    April 17, 2008

    (Sorry for the Zombie thread, Reveres et al)

    Haha, no. Very much not a biblical man.

    For the record, at least in my country, “greenies” have been consistantly and vocally **against** biodiesel. The numbers have never added up. It’s one of those boondoggles that benefit no-one but the profiteers and ever-hungry media. With sufficient research it could possibly eke it’s way into “better-than-more-oil”, but then, same can be said of a lot of things.

    …and please don’t bring up Gore. Who cares about Gore? Climate change was an issue before him, it’s an issue without him, anything said about Gore is pure, undiluted ad hominem (or appeal to authority, depeding on which side you’re on). Forget Gore.

    But to jump into ad hominem, which is fun, I must point to your link to an article by Lidzen, who is OPENLY in the pay of the oil companies, and who claims there’s no consensus, despite the overwhleming majority of the planet’s climate scientists claiming there IS as consensus. THAT’S WHAT A CONSENSUS IS!!! Even if they turn out to be wrong, it’s still a consensus!

    Anyway, you’ve touched on another grab-bag of denialist talking points, so to tackle them one by one:

    It was warmer 1000 years ago (referenced from Wikipedia, so not exactly hard to find): The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that the “idea of a global or hemispheric “Medieval Warm Period” that was warmer than today however, has turned out to be incorrect” and that what those “records that do exist show is that there was no multi-century periods when global or hemispheric temperatures were the same or warmer than in the 20th century.” http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/medieval.html

    So that’s a no.

    It was warmer 60 years ago: that’s a fun one, in which data for the US shows it was as warm back in the 30’s. In the US. Global warming is global, though, hence the name GLOBAL. Although it was a warm year in the US, it was an unremarkable one globally.

    Understandable mistake for people who might not follow the issue (like most of us here) but for the climate “scientists” who somehow overlook that little detail and spout the “it was warmer in the 30’s” line, it’s pure, unalloyed bullshit.

    Farming in Greenland: was a local condition, effecting only the north atlantic. Very interesting and all, but global, as I may have mentioned, means GLOBAL. Local variations, even big ones like that, are expected, if rare and pretty cool.

    Personally I think the Russians are right, we are heading into a cool down… Which is why we’ve actually warmed? Wha-?

    Milankovitch Cycles! GOLD! They predict climate changes every 100,000 years, not every 40.

    I honestly dont know… Never truer text typed. And yet you feel able to dismiss the peer reviewed and multiply confirmed work of thousands of people who have spent their entire careers working on this stuff, with only the vaguest of notions as to why you reject them. Yet no matter how many of the false “talking point” beliefs I knock down, you’re going to go right on believing whatever you want to believe, aren’t you?

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