Feeds

Climate change 'no excuse' for failure to beat malaria

Perfectly achievable warming or no, say top boffins

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A team of UK and American scientists say that - assuming global warming proceeds in line with mainstream expectation - there is no reason to fear a global malaria outbreak.

It is often suggested that global warming might lead to a reappearance of the deadly disease in areas where it has been wiped out, and that it might spread to regions where it is unknown. (See here, here and here for examples.)

However a team of disease specialists based at Oxford University, the University of Florida and in Kenya have analysed the long battle between humanity and malaria - much of which has occurred against a background of increased temperatures in the generally accepted global records. They say there is no cause for concern.

"The globe warmed over the past century, but the range of malaria contracted substantially," says Andy Tatem of Florida uni. "Warming isn't the only factor that affects malaria."

Other and much more powerful factors have included pesticides, improved medical techniques, use of treated insect nets to protect beds, and economic development which has seen populations move off the land and thus run less risk of mosquito bites.

In particular the pesticide DDT is generally credited with wiping out malaria across 24 countries in the 1950s and 60s, though it is nowadays banned as it has undesirable side effects.

"There is no one tale that seems to determine the story globally," Tatem said. "If we had to choose one thing, we would guess economic development" as the primary factor. However Tatem adds that this is "kind of a cop out" as it may be reduced malaria rates which kickstart economic development rather than the other way round.

Whatever the relative strength of the various anti-malaria factors in play, Tatem and his colleagues say that they are collectively much stronger than any boost that foreseeable global warming could give the disease.

Simon Hay of Oxford states bluntly that public health officials and international organisations had better not try to excuse any failure to control malaria by blaming global warming.

"The international community has an unprecedented opportunity to relieve this burden with existing interventions," he says. "Any failure in meeting this challenge will be very difficult to attribute to climate change."

The scientists' research tends to make global warming less scary than it was, so it will offer some comfort, if not to outright deniers, then to the less hardline sceptics who would argue that climate change may well be happening but that its dangers are exaggerated.

The allied boffins' paper is the cover article in the latest edition of hefty science mag Nature. It can be read by subscribers here. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
ASTEROID'S SHOCK DINO-KILLING SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.