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Enhanced or Impaired?
Human Health in a CO2-Enriched Warmer World

I. Introduction

Perhaps the best known thing about carbon dioxide or CO2 is that it is a "greenhouse gas," possessing properties that endow it with the potential to enhance the atmosphere's greenhouse effect as its aerial concentration rises.  A highly publicized consequence that is predicted to result from this phenomenon is global warming, which is typically characterized as undesirable by a cadre of climate alarmists.  However, both the premise of catastrophic CO2-induced global warming and its host of implied evils are untenable, as we continue to demonstrate in this second of our series of major reports on the subject.

In our first report (Idso et al., 2003), we evaluated -- and found wanting -- the climate-alarmist claim that CO2-induced global warming will lead to a massive extinction of various species of plants and animals that are claimed to be unable to migrate poleward in latitude or upward in altitude fast enough to maintain a presence within the shifting climatic regimes to which they are currently adapted, as the planet warms at what is typically predicted to be an unprecedented rate.  Here, we evaluate a second climate-alarmist scare story: the claim that CO2-induced global warming will have numerous deleterious effects on human health.

The idea that CO2-induced global warming is responsible for increases in a host of human maladies has become entrenched in popular culture.  Hardly a heat wave passes, for example, but what climate alarmists are quick to blame global warming for any excess deaths that may have been associated with it.  High temperature events are accused of increasing the number of cardiovascular-related deaths, of leading to enhanced respiratory problems, and of promoting the more rapid and widespread dissemination of a number of infectious diseases, such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever.  If the truth be told, however, as we intend to do in this treatise, global warming would likely do just the opposite and actually reduce the number of lives lost to extreme thermal conditions, as many more people die from unseasonably cold temperatures than from excessive warmth.

We will also describe and evaluate a number of non-climatic effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment that impact human health.  These are phenomena about which the world's climate alarmists say very little; for they produce positive effects that tend to enhance people's quality of life.  Last of all, we will review the history of human lifespan and how it has changed over the past two centuries, during which time the air's CO2 concentration and temperature both rose substantially and should therefore, according to climate-alarmist thought, have wrought a multitude of ills upon humanity.