Daily Archives: August 7, 2017

Climate Changes and Human Pathogens Study Misleading

This study (here) of the affect of climate sensitivity on human pathogens is a literature search. The basic thesis being presented is that global warming will result in greater numbers of pathogens which in turn will result in more human illness. This line of thinking makes several assumptions. It might be useful in generating hypotheses for future surveillance but is inadequate for predicting future illness. Why? Because literature reviews are limited by what is called “publication bias”. That is, only certain articles and studies are publishable and others important studies relevant to this review are not published. Studies with negative findings are rarely published. Also, some studies are screened out because of reviewer bias. We can learn from this review but its interpretation is limited. 

Indeed, survival of some pathogens may be expected to decrease.  The authors themselves acknowledge:

“Although this study identifies a high degree of climate sensitivity among important pathogens, their response to climate change will be dependent on the nature of their association with climate drivers and impacts of other drivers.”