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Infectious Diseases in a Warming World: Running Rampant or Under Control?
Zell, R.  2004.  Global climate change and the emergence/re-emergence of infectious diseases.  International Journal of Medical Microbiology 293, Suppl. 37: 16-26.

What was done
Roland Zell of the Institute for Virology and Antiviral Therapy, Medical Center at the Fredrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany, reviews what is known about the putative link that some scientists have postulated -- and a host of climate alarmists have championed -- between global warming and the spread of infectious diseases.

What was learned
After reviewing the literature on the subject, Zell notes that many people "assume a correlation between increasing disease incidence and global warming."  However, as he concludes after studying the issue in considerable depth, "the factors responsible for the emergence/reemergence of vector-borne diseases are complex and mutually influence each other," citing as an example of this complexity the fact that "the incidence and spread of parasites and arboviruses are affected by insecticide and drug resistance, deforestation, irrigation systems and dams, changes in public health policy (decreased resources of surveillance, prevention and vector control), demographic changes (population growth, migration, urbanization), and societal changes (inadequate housing conditions, water deterioration, sewage, waste management)."  Therefore, as he continues, "it may be over-simplistic to attribute emergent/re-emergent diseases to climate change and sketch the menace of devastating epidemics in a warmer world."

What it means
In the words of Zell, "variations in public health practices and lifestyle can easily outweigh changes in disease biology," especially those that might be caused by global warming.  And, we might add, these public health and lifestyle changes could be implemented now, if we chose to do so, and at a fraction of the cost that would be needed to make even the smallest of changes in the future course of earth's air temperature.

Reviewed 22 September 2004