WE ARE used to silly, irresponsible climate scare stories from the BBC and the papers, but when they come from the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency it is quite another matter.
According to the Guardian last week: ‘The climate crisis poses a “significant and growing threat” to health in the UK, the country’s most senior public health expert has warned.
‘Professor Dame Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said there was a common misconception that a warmer climate would bring net health benefits due to milder winters. But the climate emergency would bring far wider-reaching health impacts, she said, with food security, flooding and mosquito-borne diseases posing threats.
‘Referring to the recent floods in Pakistan, Harries said the UK needed to build resilience to protect the population from the health impacts of extreme weather events. “Colleagues from Pakistan . . . are suffering from the impacts of flooding. They are dealing with stagnant water, higher risks of sewage overflowing into publicly accessible water spaces,” she said. “We are seeing some of the things that could be happening in the UK”.’
She went on to repeat the fake claims that this summer’s heatwave had killed 2,800 people, a claim already exposed as a sham on TCW. And she warned us that we would have to stay indoors in the middle of the day in summer, and have longer summer holidays for schools. She even ridiculously claimed that we would soon have outbreaks of dengue fever.
The comparison with Pakistan is utterly absurd, and there’s no evidence that summers in England are getting wetter, or for that matter drier.
Indeed, even her claim that we would soon be having Mediterranean summers is just as ridiculous. The simple fact is that even this summer was not as hot as 1976. The average summer temperature may have increased, as cold summers become less frequent, but even with the wall-to-wall sunshine we had this year, summers show no sign of breaking through that 16C barrier:
By contrast, average summer temperatures in the south of France are typically six or seven degrees higher.
Harries’s comments about dengue are particularly misleading. The spread of dengue globally has not been because of climate change, as one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases, Professor Duane Gubler, has explained.
According to him, the principal drivers are urbanisation, globalisation and lack of effective mosquito control. The mosquitoes which carry the virus thrive in urban habitats, where dengue quickly spreads, while air travel provides the ideal mechanism for transport of viruses to new cities, regions and continents. The result, he says, is epidemic dengue.
The World Health Organisation also notes that the mosquito which has brought the dengue virus to Europe is actually adapted to cold weather: ‘Aedes albopictus, a secondary dengue vector in Asia, has spread to North America and more than 25 countries in the European Region, largely due to the international trade in used tyres (a breeding habitat) and other goods (e.g. lucky bamboo). Aedes albopictus is highly adaptive and, therefore, can survive in cooler temperate regions of Europe.’
Britain is no stranger to mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue. Large epidemics of dengue have been recorded here and elsewhere in Europe since the 18th century. One massive epidemic, estimated at one million cases with at least 1,000 deaths, occurred in Greece in 1927-28. Climate change has nothing to do with the spread of dengue.
And what about this ‘food security’ Harries is waffling on about? Agricultural output has been steadily rising since the BSE scare of the 1990s:
If the professor is worried about Britain’s food security, maybe she should be objecting to the government’s plans to rewild large swathes of our countryside, to attack the dairy and meat industry and to build solar farms on prime agricultural land.
BBC’s Arctic warming trick
ACCORDING to a BBC report, Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago deep inside the Arctic Circle, is heating at six times the global average. (The BBC and Guardian now routinely call it ‘heating’ rather than ‘warming’, though I don’t think the Svalbarders would call average annual temperatures of 1C ‘hot’!)
The report, Svalbard: The race to save the fastest-warming place on Earth, states: ‘Svalbard is home to the world’s northernmost permanent settlement, Longyearbyen, which is estimated to be heating at six times the global average. So what is being done to save it?
‘Svalbard’s church is a blood-red wooden building with bright white trim – the most northerly place of worship in the world. Its priest, Siv Limstrand, has been here for only three years but is shocked by the impact of climate change she has witnessed in that time. “Every Sunday when we gather for worship, a part of our intercessions is always about climate change and its threats,” explains Limstrand. “We know that the clock is ticking.”
‘You feel on borrowed time here in what successive scientific studies have found is the fastest-warming place on Earth. Experts from the Norwegian Polar Institute are among those who calculate it is heating six times faster than the global average. The consensus is that the temperature in Svalbard has jumped 4C in the past 50 years. Wildlife and human life are now in a struggle to survive. This is why Limstrand’s congregation is praying for help.’
Obviously a priest who has been there three years is an expert on Svalbard’s climate!
But as this is the BBC, they tell you only half the story. In line with most of the Arctic, Svalbard was virtually as warm as now in the 1930s and 40s, as the chart for Bjoernoeya (Bear Island) shows:
In between, as the chart highlights, Svalbard went through a drastic cooling episode in the 1960s and 70s. It is from this unusually cold base period that the BBC claim their 4C of warming. That extreme cold interval affected much of the Arctic, and had a particularly catastrophic effect on countries like Iceland. Trausti Jonsson, senior researcher at the Iceland Met Office, lived through those times and said this:
‘In 1965 there was a real and very sudden climatic change in Iceland (deterioration). It was larger in the north than in the south and affected both the agriculture and fishing – and therefore also the whole of society with soaring unemployment rates and a 50 per cent devaluation of the local currency,’
Going further back in time, ice core studies have shown that Svalbard was as warm as now, if not warmer, in the 1300s, before temperatures plunged in the Little Ice Age. The 1800s were the coldest period of the lot in the last 1,000 years.
There is nothing unprecedented or unusual about Svalbard’s climate nowadays. But the BBC would rather the inhabitants return to the freezing days of the 1960s!