Bugs and Disease: When Politico Deceives About Global Warming

‘Human infection rates do not show a clear or consistent link between temperature and Lyme disease incidence…’

West Nile virus photo

Photo by fairfaxcounty (CC)

(Katie J. Read, Liberty Headlines) When Politico released a graphic illustrating the correlation between the rise in deadly insect-borne diseases and the increase in global temperatures last September, it ignored a few key facts from the report it cited as backup to its claims.

Nonprofit fact-checking website Just Facts investigated those claims and found Politico to have glossed over data that delegitimize its point.

Just Facts Daily identified several points that the “U.S. Global Change Resource Program’s Climate Health Assessment” published that Politico ignored, even though it cited the report.

Politico’s graphic mainly explored its connection between insect-borne diseases and climate change: “Warming global temperatures are changing the range and behavior of disease-carrying insects like mosquitos and ticks and extending the seasons in which they are active. As a result, incidence of the diseases they carry — including Lyme, spotted fever, West Nile and malaria — are all on the rise, despite yearly fluctuations.”

But the report Politico said provided this information, said something different.

“Though there are links between climate and tick distribution,” the report read, “studies that look for links between weather and geographical differences in human infection rates do not show a clear or consistent link between temperature and Lyme disease incidence.”

The report also specified that West Nile Virus is an invasive pathogen that appeared in the United States more than 15 years ago.

While this period of time would allow scientists to observe responses of the virus to weather variables, it would not provide an observation period long enough to track the virus’s response to climate trends.

Rather than emphasize climate effects, Just Facts pointed to another 2016 study in Nature Communications that suggested increase in mosquito populations is the result of EPA’s ban on the pesticide DDT.

“The EPA banned DDT in 1972, but its effects sometimes continued for decades. In New York State, for example, ‘it took mosquito communities nearly 40 years to reach pre-DDT levels,'” Just Facts reported. “In brief, the study found that growth in mosquito populations did not correspond with rising temperatures but with decreased DDT.”

Not only did the report negate the possibility of Politico’s claims, but it also revealed that mosquito-borne diseases like Western Equine Encephalomyelitis Virus and St. Louis Encephalitis Virus have greatly decreased in frequency over the last 30 to 40 years, even though their carriers, Culex mosquitoes, are climate sensitive.