Hay, S.I., Cox, J., Rogers, D.J., Randolph, S.E., Stern, D.I., Shanks, G.D., Myers, M.F. and Snow, R.W. 2002. Climate change and the resurgence of malaria in the East African highlands. Nature 415: 905-909.
What was done
Noting that "there has been much speculation on whether anthropogenic climate change is exacerbating the malaria problem, especially in areas of high altitude where Plasmodium falciparum transmission is limited by low temperature," the authors investigated long-term trends in meteorological data at four East African highland sites that have experienced significant increases in malaria cases over the past couple of decades. They also studied a number of other phenomena that have an impact on the incidence of the disease.
What was learned
The authors report that "temperature, rainfall, vapour pressure and the number of months suitable for P. falciparum transmission have not changed significantly during the past century or during the period of reported malaria resurgence." They did determine, however, that "economic, social and political factors can ... explain recent resurgences in malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases with no need to invoke climate change."
What it means
In rebuffing the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the authors generously state that "claimed associations between local malaria resurgences and regional changes in climate are overly simplistic," which is a polite way of saying they're just plain wrong.
Reviewed 22 May 2002