Report: Climate Change Already Increasing Malaria and Dengue in the Pacific
22 November 2008
by Jack Rosebro
|World Health Organization estimation of deaths caused by anthropogenic climate change up to 2000. Click to enlarge.|
A policy brief from the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia entitled “The Sting of Climate Change” argues that global climate change is exacerbating a thirty-year increase in malaria and dengue throughout maritime Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands, and that Australia, as a “fringe country” to mosquito-borne disease, should increase efforts to mitigate the spread of those diseases in both affected areas and areas not yet affected, as well as the potential of transmission to the Australian population from migrating environmental refugees.
Screening, quarantining, and treatment of immigrants from malaria-infested countries is currently carried out in Australia’s Northern Territory. The brief’s author, Dr. Sarah Potter of Environmental Health Branch, NSW Department of Health, recommends that malaria screening be extended to other states, including Queensland and Western Australia, and that dengue screening be initiated, as well.
Dengue is a virus that can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, which has an approximate 40% fatality rate if left untreated.
“The Sting of Climate Change” notes that socioeconomic factors can become threat multipliers with regard to detrimental effects of climate change: from 1996 to 2000, for example, central Java, which is Indonesia’s third most populated province with a population of more than 30 million, saw an increase of confirmed malaria cases by an order of magnitude, from 4 cases to 45 cases per thousand persons. The spread of disease was amplified by the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, which led to significant cutbacks in malaria and other health control programs.
In a separate announcement, Philippines Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said last week that increasing dengue, malaria, cholera, and typhoid fever cases in that country could be attributed to climate change.
Clearly, what was predicted about the impact of global warming is already happening. The different dengue trend, which before it was characterized by peaking every two to three years, now it has always been increasing.—Secretary Duque 
Climate change is projected to humidify some geographic areas and dry out others, with significant rainfall fluctuations in the Pacific caused by the El Niño/Southern Ocean Oscillation (ENSO). Warmer conditions allow most mosquitoes, as well as the malaria parasite, to develop faster; wetter conditions increase lifespan and frequency of breeding. Drought events generally reduce the incidence of vector-borne disease, but can temporarily increase mosquito populations in some areas due to the reduction of mosquito predators and/or an increase in stagnation and contamination of drainage canals and small rivers. Reduced rainfall can lead to an increased reliance on the collection of rainfall in containers for freshwater consumption, which also tends to increase the incidence of disease.
Last year’s Fourth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expressed a “very high confidence” that climate change will contract the geographical range for malaria transmission in some areas and expand it in other areas, with the length of the transmission seasons also susceptible to change.
A 2004 World Health Organization study estimates that climatic changes that have been occurring since the mid-1970s caused more than 150K deaths by 2000 through increasing incidences of diseases such as diarrhea, malaria and malnutrition, primarily in developing countries. The study projects a potential doubling of climate-related deaths by 2030.
Malaria already causes as many as two million deaths per year, with half being child deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
 The Sting of Climate Change, Dr. Sarah Potter/Lowy Institute, 2008
 Climate change blamed for increasing number of dengue, typhoid cases, GMA News, 20 November 2008
 Working Group II Report Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Human Health IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, 2007
 Global and Regional Burden of Diseases Attributable to Selected Major Risk Factors, World Health Organization, 2004
People, let's get this into perspective. The global temperature has increased 0.7 degC in the past 160 years, and has been dropping for the past 10 years. Much of Australia has just experienced its coldest October days for over 20 years. It's November and I'm wearing a jumper. Does anyone really think this degree of change is causing all the chaos we read about? As far as their projections go, they're all based on climate models, all of which the Earth has stubbonly refused to take any notice of.
Posted by: Ross James | 22 November 2008 at 03:55 PM
?? Why is this crap posted in "GREEN CAR CONGRESS"?
I want discussion of "CARS" not plague and pestilence. Has this board gone the way of my once beloved ahd heartily supported "Sierra Club"?
Who is in charge here? Have you all gone mad or just run out of topics?
Posted by: Rikiki | 22 November 2008 at 05:44 PM
Until Malaria and Dengue arrive in Atlanta, American don't give a Shi'ite.
Posted by: DS | 22 November 2008 at 08:57 PM
Ross, the temperature has not been dropping for the last 10 years- http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/11/4/175028/329
Posted by: ai_vin | 22 November 2008 at 09:26 PM
Not only American don't give a sh*te - no rational person on any plane believes this claptrap any more. It is a colossal TWO trillion dollar failure - that has no one convinced.
Please GCC, get off the religious soapbox and back to practical engineering of cars that will help the environment. That's why it's called Green CAR Congress.
Posted by: reel$$ | 22 November 2008 at 09:26 PM
At least the Globalwarmists are now calling their religion Climate Change, rather than Global Warming, since Earth has been on a cooling trend, tracking closely with solar activity, not CO2, for the past roughly ten years. It already is VERY difficult to be taken seriously, panicking about "Global Warming," shrieking in horror over dire predictions, as the Earth is demonstratively cooling.
Global Warming = Global Cooling = Climate Change!
Lets agree to spend out resources on real problems such as pollution - of which CO2 (breathing) is not a part
Posted by: Mr. Environment | 22 November 2008 at 09:31 PM
Posted by: | 22 November 2008 at 09:37 PM
Apparently the current Global Cooling trend is real:
Posted by: BB | 22 November 2008 at 10:03 PM
According to NASA (and other agencies), the average global temperature has DROPPED by about .7 degrees C just over the last two years. That's enough to wipe out most of the warming that occurred during the last 100 years. It would seem that natural cycles in ocean currents and solar activity have a much greater influence on global temperatures than atmospheric C02.
Posted by: Ed Harley | 23 November 2008 at 07:24 AM
Global warming and its effects are properly mentioned here because they are in large part caused by the use of automobiles.
For detailed discussion by climatologists and atmospheric physicists of the facts of global warming see
For geeky fanboy gushing over cars without annoying references to their indirect costs see
too many sites to list here.
Posted by: richard schumacher | 23 November 2008 at 07:26 AM
1.The greatest threat from automobiles and virtually all ICEs is POLLUTION. C02 is not a pollutant. All living things use and create C02.
2. First AGW >>> then Global Warming then >>>> Climate change. A very esoteric issue (AGW) ..better left to qualified EARTH SCIENTISTS. There is far too much disagreement in this community for the general poplulace to be bamboozled like ....
3. You did read immediately preceeding yours.
4. OT. Epidemiologists who track and study endemic and epidemic diseases will agree that human mobility (That is world wide travelers ) is the far most important factor in the spread of tropical diseases. Very little to do with "global warming" more to do with hydrologic cycles and lack of knowledge in the areas where the carrier mosquitos thrive and where DDT is unknown or banned.
5. OT ..The outbreak of Dengue Fever in east Maui, Hawaii and Oahu in early 2000s was attributed by UH Public Health to be travelers from the asian areas where disease is endemic. We never had a case of DF in west maui because we were on the dry side of the island. Hana, Maui had the most cases because it is on the very wet side of the island. Public education on the mosquito borne diseases of Malaria and DF are the most weight as to controlling the spread of disease to other tropical areas.
Posted by: Rikiki | 23 November 2008 at 08:38 AM
"C02 is not a pollutant. All living things use and create C02."
You could say the same thing about water. But the thing to remember is you can have too much of it, if you put too much water into an environment to quickly you get a flood and if you get most living things too much water they drown.
Posted by: ai_vin | 23 November 2008 at 09:11 AM
Either of the links given by BB or Ed show we're in a current cooling trend. BB's link only shows historical data for a cycle which, if it still works inspite of the record levels of CO2 in the air now, will hit us with a mini ice age in 200 to 2000 years. Ed's link shows lower temperatures over a period of 1 year. One year is not a trend. Some years are just an anomaly (up or down) and to show a cooling trend you have to do what they did to show a warming trend - you have to remove the very chaotic year to year variability that exists by smoothing out the data with an average of the years before and after a given date.
Now this is an excusable mistake for average folks who do not need the rigors of statistical analysis in their day jobs, but any scientist in pretty much any field knows that you can not extract any meaningful information about trends in noisy data from single-year end points.
Posted by: ai_vin | 23 November 2008 at 09:37 AM
By "Either" I meant "Neither"
Posted by: | 23 November 2008 at 09:39 AM
If Rikiki did not hammer you hard enough go ahead and try to explain 'indirect costs' of energy use.
Before you start, let me ask you a question, how do you wake up a WWII vet who experiencing malaria relapse? Very carefully?
Whenever the topic of 'indirect costs' is raised I know some I am about to get a lecture some clown who majored in basket weaving while making fun of nerds. There is no statistical significant data to support AGW has impacted the environment. There is statistical significant data to support natural climate change. There is evidence that we can adapt to variation in both climate and weather.
There is no evidence that AGW fear mongers have any interest in not being part of the problem. Here is a list of fat cats who fly around the country warning us to do as they say not as they do:
The Google founders
Posted by: Kit P | 23 November 2008 at 09:46 AM
I agree that this is not the most relevant topic to be presenting on GCC.
Despite this, thanks for all the links. As usual, when I invest some of my time to investigate them all it becomes clear which side is doing the bamboozling. Thanks for the link from 1996, BB!! Thanks for the DailyTech link Ed, that may warrant some further investigation. However, I can predict that the giant clouds of reflective sulphate aerosol pollutants forming over Asia might have **something** to do with this supposed cooling trend (although I have a feeling they're cherry picking which dataset they're analyzing to demonstrate this cooling trend) --- which I'm guessing won't be addressed in the discussion on that link!!!
To Rikiki, if you emit a substance and this results in some negative impact to either people or the environment then this is by definition called "pollution".
I'm always amazed by the opposition the public feels towards imposing some kind of carbon tax or imposition on their CO2-emitting lifestyle. You get these ridiculous anti-AGW flamers screaming about how the socialists are coming to control us all. It becomes quite humorous.
Apparently they aren't aware that they are already being shafted by the oil companies, have been for years, and by imposing a carbon tax to force the development of solar electric cars, the average consumer would be better off, and have more "liberty"! Highly ironic.
Posted by: Mark_BC | 23 November 2008 at 10:20 AM
By your definition the sun could then be classified as a pollutant. It does produce, at certain times and cycles enormous quantities of radiation. More exposure to the Hot sun will get you sun strokes, sunburn, and in enough time skin cancer. Why don't we tackle solar heating from flares and sunspots next?
Posted by: Rikiki | 23 November 2008 at 11:27 AM
Spend*trillions*of dollars*to*control*it. We*could *even*trade*solar*credits*as*well*as*carbon*credits, pollution credits, water credits, etc...
The planet has had much higher concentrations of Carbon Dioxide and much warmer climates than now. There were no cars back then and few, if any, H. sapiens. And, the earth teemed with life that lived out of the water.
Posted by: ri | 23 November 2008 at 11:31 AM
We could Spend trillions of dollars to control it. We could even trade solar credits as well as carbon credits, pollution credits, water credits, etc...
The planet has had much higher concentrations of Carbon Dioxide and much warmer climates than now. There were no cars back then and few, if any,H. sapiens. And, the earth teemed with life that lived out of the water.
Posted by: Rikiki | 23 November 2008 at 11:42 AM
CO2 in the past has been quite higher than current levels, even as recently as 10 million years ago. However, what you neglect to mention is that along with that came higher sea levels.
"There were no cars back then and few, if any, H. sapiens."
Quite correct; there were not billions of people who had invested trillions of dollars in infrastructure projects and settlement patterns on the assumption that sea levels would not rise.
Moving away from the oil industry is not going to cost us trillions. Rather, the Iraq War is costing us trillions. Once mass production of solar electric vehicles starts, to bring their price to something competitive (within 5 years), it will cost no one any more money to not buy another drop of oil. In fact, because you wouldn't be spending $300 a month to the oil corporation extortionists, we would actually be saving money. We will be able to do away with that huge parasitic side of our economy, the fossil fuel industry, and instead focus our efforts on doing better things with our productivity.
Posted by: Mark_BC | 23 November 2008 at 12:27 PM
Hey Ed, I dug a little deeper into your DailyTech link and went back to the original source:
The original author states:
"The website DailyTech has an article citing this blog entry as a reference, and their story got picked up by the Drudge report, resulting in a wide distribution. In the DailyTech article there is a paragraph:
“Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C — a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year time. For all sources, it’s the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.”
I wish to state for the record, that this statement is not mine: “–a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years”
There has been no “erasure”. This is an anomaly with a large magnitude, and it coincides with other anecdotal weather evidence. It is curious, it is unusual, it is large, it is unexpected, but it does not “erase” anything. I suggested a correction to DailyTech and they have graciously complied."
Why is it that these stories ALWAYS turn out this way? Thanks for the entertaining link though.
Posted by: Mark_BC | 23 November 2008 at 12:45 PM
@Kit "Here is a list of fat cats who fly around the country warning us to do as they say not as they do:"
Last week 'The Big Three' car company CEOs flew in to Washington, each in a separate private jet, to ask for welfare from the government. Now, add in the execs of all the oil companies, coal power utilities, mining corps, etc. who have spent all these years telling us AGW is not real and you've got a real list of fat cats with a motive to lie. After all if it's not real we can safely continue to make them obscenely rich, can't we?
Posted by: ai_vin | 23 November 2008 at 01:25 PM
I do not have problem with fat cats per se. If the person who runs my electric utility runs it well and I have cheap reliable than he should be compensated fairly. Just for the record I have not caught them lying about AGW.
“To Rikiki, if you emit a substance and this results in some negative impact to either people or the environment then this is by definition called "pollution".”
So Mark, what negative impact are you referring to. I will give you an easy one, mercury. Two teenagers show up in the emergency room with mercury poisoning. Do you shut down all the coal plants in the world because it fits your agenda or do you find the root cause? It turns out that mercury was spilled in their house when the gas company moved the gas meter. As it turns out 9000 houses were contaminated the same way.
Random sample does not find any US citizens with mercury levels above the threshold of harm. However, the US is going to spend huge sums of money fixing a non problem.
There are real problems in the world like malaria and dengue fever.
The systematic approach to environmental problems is to prioritize them and address the root cause. AGW is such a small problem it is way done my list and we are making great progress in anycase.
Posted by: Kit P | 23 November 2008 at 02:55 PM
Hey, don't trees emit oxygen? And isn't oxygen responsible for the erosion in metals, e.g. rust in iron? If trees would not emit oxygen, we might not have rusted out old car frames and bodies. Our door hinges would no longer creak in ominous ways; nails would not decompose threatening houses with collapse.
Trees emit oxygen. Oxygen has a negative effect. Oxygen is a pollutant.
We must eliminate trees.
Posted by: reel$$ | 23 November 2008 at 07:21 PM
Well I guess it's time to exit the conversation when the best you can do is argue over the semantics of how you define the word "pollution". Thanks for not contributing to the knowledge base whatsoever.
Posted by: Mark_BC | 24 November 2008 at 12:09 AM