SEARCH BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING
Yesterday, I posted pictures of some unfortunate people. One was of people in a watery quagmire in Bangladesh with a caption commenting on the government's poor effort to combat mosquitoes and disease.
Another was of a soldier frozen to death.
Those who fear a few degrees more warmth are inclined to believe that warmth = bad and cold = good.
Just a point of clarification regarding mosquitoes and malaria. If you haven't read this before you should know that one of the worst outbreaks of malaria occurred in Siberia... yes Siberia....
Professor Reiter on malaria in the "Little Ice Age":But moving beyond that, how do humans generally fare in colder climates? Well, how about Scotland? That's a northern country with a climate somewhat moderated by the Gulf Stream. What does the medical establishment have to say about cold weather and human health in Scotland?
I wonder how many of your Lordships are aware of the historical significance of the Palace of Westminster? I refer to the history of malaria, not the evolution of government. Are you aware that the entire area now occupied by the Houses of Parliament was once a notoriously malarious swamp? And that until the beginning of the 20th century, "ague" (the original English word for malaria) was a cause of high morbidity and mortality in parts of the British Isles, particularly in tidal marshes such as those at Westminster? And that George Washington followed British Parliamentary precedent by also siting his government buildings in a malarious swamp! I mention this to dispel any misconception you may have that malaria is a "tropical" disease.
All this occurred in a periodâ€”roughly from the mid-15th century to the early 18th centuryâ€”that climatologists term the "Little Ice Age". Temperatures were highly variable, but generally much lower than in the period since. In winter, the sea was often frozen for many miles offshore, the King could hold parties on the frozen Thames, there are six records of Eskimos landing their kayaks in Scotland, and the Viking settlements in Iceland and Greenland became extinct.
Despite this remarkably cold period, perhaps the coldest since the last major Ice Age, malaria was what we would today call a "serious public health problem" in many parts of the British Isles, and was endemic, sometimes common throughout Europe as far north as the Baltic and northern Russia. It began to disappear from many regions of Europe, Canada and the United States as a result of multiple changes in agriculture and lifestyle that affected the breeding of the mosquito and its contact with people, but it persisted in less developed regions until the mid 20th century. In fact, the most catastrophic epidemic on record anywhere in the world occurred in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, with a peak incidence of 13 million cases per year, and 600,000 deaths. Transmission was high in many parts of Siberia, and there were 30,000 cases and 10,000 deaths due to falciparum infection (the most deadly malaria parasite) in Archangel, close to the Arctic circle. Malaria persisted in many parts of Europe until the advent of DDT. One of the last malarious countries in Europe was Holland: the WHO finally declared it malaria-free in 1970.
I hope I have convinced you that malaria is not an exclusively tropical disease, and is not limited by cold winters!
Could it be that humans, originally tropical creatures, really do better in warmth and that warmth does not necessarily mean squalor? Just because conditions are bad in Bangladesh, does it follow that conditions must also be bad in Singapore? Will a temperature increase of a few degrees suddenly destroy all of mankind's knowledge about controlling his environment... or his ability to adapt to it?I would venture that those who fear any warming... from natural forces or from man's activity... may be doing so more from ignorance than reality.