Friday, August 20, 2004


On Friday the science journal Nature published a series of papers on malaria and its control. Focusing on this preventable and curable disease is crucial and timely; malaria is the biggest killer of children in Africa accounting for over 1 million deaths world wide each year. Furthermore, we are now at the halfway point through the World Health Organization's (WHO) Roll Back Malaria program which can only be described as an unmitigated failure. Unless urgent and far reaching reforms are made to Roll Back Malaria and its partner organizations, malaria's death toll will continue unabated. One partner, UNICEF, the UN children's agency, is even sending a pianist instead of urgently needed nets and drugs

The WHO, World Bank, the US aid agency, USAID, and UNICEF launched Roll Back Malaria in 1998. Their aim was to halve malaria deaths by 2010. So far malaria deaths have risen by 12%.

Some countries are getting malaria control right though. Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa have successfully driven the incidence of the disease to almost all time lows. Zambia, one of the world's poorest countries is also witnessing increased success against the disease. The common thread among these countries is that they are rolling out highly successful new combination drug therapies and are running insecticide spraying programmes to kill adult mosquitoes that rest indoors. Crucially, these malaria control programs are funded not by UN bodies or established donor agencies but by the relatively new Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) and the private sector.

Unlike GFATM, the Roll Back Malaria partners are unwilling to fund interventions that work but upset environmentalists, such as indoor insecticide spraying. They are also not living up to their own funding requirements. One article in Nature points out that the funding the Roll Back Malaria partners promised to control the disease has not been delivered. In April 2000 the World Bank promised to pledge between $300 and $500 million to combat malaria. So far, the Bank claims to have authorized loans of between $100 and $150 million. Yet if malaria is to be successfully controlled, at least $5 billion needs to be devoted to prevention and treatment programmes every year.

During the 1950s and 60s, USAID funded the WHO's malaria eradication program. Although this program was prematurely terminated, US taxpayer funding was responsible for saving millions of lives; were that only true now. Like the World Bank, USAID's funding is inadequate; as importantly, it ignores what malarial countries actually need. USAID claims that it spends 34% of its $65.6 million malaria budget on disease treatment, but admits that it actually doesn't buy any drugs. With drug resistance rising, changing over to new effective therapies is essential. USAID's refusal to provide funds for those drugs is tantamount to a death sentence for anyone unfortunate enough to be infected with malaria.

Many African countries want to increase indoor spraying with insecticides, yet here, too, USAID's policy is failing since the agency prefers to focus its prevention strategies on insecticide-treated nets.

More here


Excerpts from an article by Philip Stott -- professor emeritus of biogeography in the University of London:

"In any discussion of climate change, it is essential to distinguish between the complex science of climate and the myth - in the sense of Roland Barthes, or the 'hybrid', following Bruno Latour - of 'global warming'. The latter is a politico-pseudoscientific construct, developed since the late 1980s, in which the human emission of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, is unquestioningly taken as the prime driver of a new and dramatic type of climate change that will result in a significant warming during the next 100 years and lead to catastrophe for both humanity and the Earth.

This, in turn, has morphed since 1992 and the Rio Conference on the environment into a legitimising myth for a gamut of interconnected political agendas - above all for a range of European sensibilities with regards to America, oil, the car, transport, economic growth, trade, and international corporations. The language employed tends to be authoritarian and religious in character, involving the use of what the physicist PH Borcherds has termed the 'hysterical subjunctive'. Indeed, for many, the myth has become an article of a secular faith that exhibits all the characteristics of a premodern religion, above all demanding sacrifice to the Earth.

By contrast, the science of climate change starts from the principle that we are concerned with the most complex, non-linear, chaotic system known, and that it is distinctly unlikely that climate change can be predicted by reference to a single factor, however politically convenient that factor....

First, is the climate changing? The answer has to be: 'Of course it is.' Evidence throughout geological time indicates climate change at all scales and all times. Climate change is the norm, not the exception, and at any moment the Earth is either warming or cooling. If climate were ever to become stable, it would be a scientifically exciting phenomenon. To declare that 'the climate is changing' is therefore a truism. By contrast, the global warming myth harks back to a lost Golden Age of climate stability, or, to employ a more modern term, climate 'sustainability'. Sadly, the idea of a sustainable climate is an oxymoron. The fact that we have rediscovered climate change at the turn of the Millennium tells us more about ourselves, and about our devices and desires, than about climate. Opponents of global warming are often snidely referred to as 'climate change deniers'; precisely the opposite is true. Those who question the myth of global warming are passionate believers in climate change - it is the global warmers who deny that climate change is the norm".


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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