Epidemic Of Scaremongering Hits Buenos Aires

Epidemic Of Scaremongering Hits Buenos Aires

November 05, 1998

Buenos Aires, November 6, 1998 – Today’s Buenos Aires Herald (Nov. 6) carries an above-the-fold front-page story that uncritically presents as "news" some of the best-refuted myths of the global warming scare. "The story is clearly designed to aid and abet the global doomsayers at the UN-sponsored COP-4 conference in Buenos Aires," said Marlo Lewis, Vice President for Policy and Coalitions at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a non-governmental organization (NGO) observing the conference.

"Dengue at the Doorstep" reports that Aedes aegypti, the dengue fever-transmitting mosquito, is now "present in more than a third of the homes" in Buenos Aires. According to a World Wildlife Fund press briefing, there are now enough carrier mosquitoes in Buenos Aires to "trigger an epidemic." Predictably, the article repeats the warnings of "scientists" and "experts" that dengue, yellow fever, malaria, and cholera will spread throughout the Americas because of human-induced global warming.

"This is pure bunkum," said Lewis. "Dengue, yellow fever, malaria, and cholera are not diseases of climate but of poverty." At a recent briefing sponsored by CEI, Dr. Paul Reiter, chief of entomology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), explained that malaria has been found as far north as Russia, Scandinavia, and Alaska. These allegedly "tropical" diseases were once endemic to the United States, killing tens of thousands of people in the 19th century, when the world, still in the grips of the Little Ice Age, was 1oF colder than it is today. "The virtual absence of these diseases in the United States today has nothing to do with climate and everything to do with modern day innovations in housing and health care," said Lewis.

For example, the dengue fever epidemic that recently swept through Mexico up to the Texas border afflicted some 6,000 people in Mexico, but only 6 in Texas. Moreover, some areas of the southern United States are warmer than the Caribbean countries now experiencing dengue outbreaks. "The real danger is that by suppressing energy use, the Kyoto Protocol will hold back the economic and technological progress needed to protect societies from insect-borne disease," said Lewis.

The Herald article attributes Peru’s 1991 cholera outbreak to oceanic warming. "That’s bad reporting," said Lewis. Peruvian authorities, taking their cue from unproven U.S. EPA speculation about a possible link between chlorine and cancer, stopped chlorinating Peru’s water supply. Chlorination had eliminated cholera epidemics in Peru. Eliminating chlorination brought them back.

Malaria is making a comeback in South America, but this is the result of political decisions, influenced by environmental activists, to discontinue the use of DDT. "Anyone who doubts that the use or non-use of DDT is the critical factor accounting for variable malaria rates in South America should read the article by Donald Roberts and colleagues on the CDC’s web site (www.cdc.gov)," said Lewis.

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy institute dedicated to the principles of free markets and limited government. For more information about global warming, contact Jim Sheehan at 312-4061 (Lancaster Hotel) in Buenos Aires or Jonathan Adler at 202-331-1010 in Washington, DC.