SciDev.net's Plea: Get The Science Straight!

Questioning the soundness of climate-related science should not be the realm solely of climate skeptics. That’s what makes the following even more welcome.

Get the science straight on climate change and disease – Climate change’s complex links with insect-borne disease need solid research — not alarmism that distracts from other crucial factors

That’s the start of a courageous, no-holds-barred Sep 9, 2009 editorial by Sian Lewis on SciDev.net (“a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world“).

In normal times, Lewis’ words would sound obvious in the extreme (and no: SciDev.net is not a hotbed of hard-core AGW skeptics – read also this). But these times of “climate porn” (see also here and here) are not normal times at all.

A few excerpts from Lewis’ article:

  • research agendas must both respond to social needs and offer good science
  • fulfilling the second condition is more tricky
  • There is clearly a link between insect-borne diseases and climate
  • But a whole host of non-climate factors also influence disease transmission…
  • So we mustn’t go overboard, reading too much into the role of climate change at the expense of research into other triggers of these major diseases
  • good science is crucial for good policy
  • The task is urgent — but this must not lead to short-cuts

The editorial is an introduction to

a series of articles [that] explore the evidence for (and against) the notion that climate change will worsen the burden of insect-borne disease, highlights gaps in our knowledge, and provides advice to policymakers

Interestingly, given that

how well models can predict these effects is a particularly thorny issue in the debate“,

then

the solution, according to Jonathan Cox, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is to forget predictive modelling for the moment and focus on research with a better chance of improving disease control“.

“Forget predictive modelling”…if only!!