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How Climate Nonsense Gets Published

Andrew Montford, GWPF

The Daily Mirror is today pushing a claim that global warming is going to bring down an epidemic of mosquito-borne disease upon us.

Malaria, dengue fever and other exotic diseases could be spread across the UK by mosquitoes driven by climate change.

Experts predict an onslaught of biting and stinging insects this summer making it the “worst ever” as numbers soar from 200 million insects for each human to 250 million.

This is a story that does the rounds of the newspaper every few years, and it has long since been debunked. Obviously, that is rarely a problem for a newspaperman looking for something to fill all those column inches, but for those who are a bit more interested in the facts, we can briefly reiterate. Malaria, for example, has been observed at the edge of the Arctic Circle. The Asian Tiger Mosquito, which the Mirror claims is going to bring all sorts of plagues down upon us, is known to survive the long frozen Korean winter quite happily. Quite why a fraction of a degree of warming in the considerably more benign climate of the UK should make any difference is unclear. In summary, there are few grounds for thinking a slight warming will make any difference to the incidence of mosquito borne disease in this country.

How does such obvious nonsense still get published, I wondered. Well, the source of the Mirror’s story appears to be one Howard Carter, described as a “bite prevention expert”. Mr Carter is extensively quoted in the article, saying, for example, this:

With global warming and the planet hotter than it has ever been since records began, we can confidently expect far higher mosquito populations.

And the warmer it becomes the faster mosquitoes can fly meaning more humans will get bitten more. This is already happening with global outbreaks of dengue and Zika.

Intrigued by Mr Carter’s introduction as a “bite prevention expert”, I decided to find out exactly who he was, and so I stuck his name into Google, which revealed that he is the owner of a company that makes insect repellent (and a former contestant on Dragon’s Den to boot).

So now I understand how such obvious nonsense can get published. And so do you.