Malaria experts dispute link to global warming

by William Yeatman on May 27, 2004

in Science

The Lancet’s June issue contains a letter from eight leading authorities that criticizes two articles published in The Lancet last December that claim there is a strong link between the spread of malaria and increasing temperatures.  The lead author of the letter is Professor Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute in Paris.  Dr. Reiter gave a Cooler Heads Coalition briefing on the issue on May 3 on Capitol Hill.

The letter, titled “Global Warming and Malaria: A Call for Accuracy”, takes issue with a model created by Frank C. Tanser that links the spread of malaria to global warming and an accompanying commentary by Simon Hales and Alistair Woodward.  These two articles received much publicity at the ninth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC at Milan in December.

In addition to several specific criticisms, the letter argues that these errors could have been avoided if the Tanser, Hales, and Woodward had been familiar with the voluminous literature on the subject.  The letter concludes, “We urge those involved to pay closer attention to the complexities of this challenging subject.

The other scientists who authored the critique are: Christopher J. Thomas of the University of Durham; Peter M. Atkinson of the University of Southampton; Simon I. Hay, a Wellcome Trust research fellow; Sarah E. Randolph of Oxford University; David J. Rogers of Oxford University; G. Dennis Shanks of the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine; Robert W. Snow of Oxford University; and Andrew Spielman of the Harvard University School of Public Health.

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