Fever claim on global warming
February 22, 2007 02:30pm
GLOBAL warming will take a toll on children's health, according to a new report showing hospital admissions for fever soar as days get hotter.
The new study found that temperature rises had a significant impact on the number of pre-schoolers presenting to emergency departments for fever and gastroenteritis.
The two-year study at a major children's hospital showed that for every five-degree rise in temperature two more children under six years old were admitted with fever to that hospital.
The University of Sydney research is the first to make a solid link between climate changes and childhood illness.
"And now global warming is becoming more apparent, it is highly likely an increasing number of young children will be turning up at hospital departments with these kinds of common illnesses," said researcher Lawrence Lam, a paediatrics specialist.
"It really demonstrates the urgent need for a more thorough investigation into how exactly climate change will affect health in childhood."
So, for every 5 degree rise in air temperature (I assume it's Celcius, not Fahrenheit), two more children are admitted to this hospital. Might we be safe, though, considering that the generally-accepted value for the rise in average global temperature over the past century is just under 1 degree Celcius? How long will it take, even at treble that rate, for 1 more child to be admitted to that hospital? I'll wait...
Lets work out the problem together, shall we? Lets take one degree per century temperature rise and triple that to 1 degree rise every 33 years (I'll throw in the year). Since two children are admitted for every 5 degree rise in temperature, it will take 5 degrees x 33 years per degree = 165 years for those two extra children to be admitted. Talk about a slow news day!
Yes, I'm being facetious, but I have cause! This is another in a long line of "news" articles that try to build outrage or stimulate anxiety through use of absurd numbers. The writer of the article even ignores a couple of obvious questions:
Is there a temperature threshold that must be attained before these pre-school cases of fever begin showing up? I mean, if the temperature rises from 5 degrees to 10 degrees around here, I don't think the fever incidence in pre-school children is affected. So what's the threshold temperature?
And, the big one: why the implication that global warming is progressing at a break-neck pace, as if next year there'll be 40 more children admitted to that hospital with global warming-induced fevers? It's been a single degree rise in a century.
Remember the story about the frog treading water in a pot of water on the stove? That frog would have had a chance to generate umpteen generations of frogs in that pot -- with the co-operation of a lady frog -- if the temperature went up only one degree in a century. Those frogs'll be treading water for centuries to come.