Climate at a Glance: Malaria and Mosquito-Borne Diseases

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Key Takeaways:

  • The number of malaria deaths occurring globally has declined in recent decades, not increased, despite modest global warming.
  • The global death toll for malaria has been cut in half since 2000.
  • There have been no malaria deaths in North America or Europe since 1990, even though malaria deaths were frequent on both continents in the early 1900s.
  • If global warming causes an uptick in mosquito-borne diseases, malaria being the most prevalent, the world should have already seen a substantial increase in illnesses and deaths from malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, not a dramatic decline.

Short Summary:

Claims that warming temperature will cause more malaria cases and deaths are contradicted by real-world evidence. As the Earth warms, malaria cases and deaths are declining in all areas of the world. If global warming causes more malaria cases, we certainly should have witnessed more malaria cases and deaths by now.

The World Health Organization (WHO) publishes global estimates of the number of people that die from malaria. Since 2000, according to the WHO, the global death toll has been cut in half – from 839,000 deaths in 2000 to 438,000 in 2015—according to a report by WHO.1

Africa is the world region that is most affected by malaria, with 9 out of every 10 malaria victims living in Africa. As shown in Figure 1, Africa is also the region that has achieved the most progress in preventing death from malaria, even as the Earth has modestly warmed.

Figure 1. Global Malaria Deaths by Region of the World

Figure 1. Global Malaria Deaths by Region, 2000–2015. Source: Max Roser and Hannah Ritchie,
“Malaria,” Our World in Data, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, last updated October 2019,
https://ourworldindata.org/malaria#malaria-death-estimates-from-who

As detailed in Chapter Four of Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels, the vast body of scientific literature
refutes climate activists’ claim that climate change is likely to exacerbate the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.2 Further, as seen in Figure 2, Australia, Europe, North America,South America, and the United Kingdom reported zero deaths from malaria from 1990 through 2017.3

Figure 2. Death Rate from Malaria, 2018

Figure 2. The map visualization shows the age-standardized death rate caused by malaria, measured
as the number of deaths per 1,000 individuals. Note that Africa is where the vast majority of
cases occur. Source: “Death Rates from Malaria, 2019,” Our World in Data, Oxford Martin School,
University of Oxford, accessed March 31, 2022, https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/malaria-deaths-ihme

Even though media attempts continue to raise a false alarm, peer-reviewed research demonstrates there is simply no link at all between mosquito-borne diseases and a modestly warming world.4,5

References:

  1. Max Roser and Hannah Ritchie, “Malaria,” Our World in Data, Oxford Martin School,
    University of Oxford, last updated October 2019, https://ourworldindata.org/
    malaria#malaria-death-estimates-from-who
  2. Roger Bezdek, Craig Idso, David Legates, S. Fred Singer, lead authors, Climate
    Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels (Arlington Heights, IL: Nongovernmental
    International Panel on Climate Change, 2018), ISBN 978-1-934791-59-2, http://
    climatechangereconsidered.org/climate-change-reconsidered-ii-fossil-fuels/
  3. “Death Rates from Malaria, 2017,” Our World in Data, Oxford Martin School,
    University of Oxford, accessed August 15, 2021, https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/
    malaria-death-rates?time=1990
  4. Zoe Corbyn, “Global Warming Wilts Malaria, Transmission of Infectious Parasites Slows
    with Rising Temperatures, Researchers Find,” Nature, nature.com, December 21, 2011,
    https://www.nature.com/news/global-warming-wilts-malaria-1.9695
  5. H. Sterling Burnett, “NPR Makes False Connection Between Climate Change and
    Disease,” Climate Realism, August 28, 2020, https://climaterealism.com/2020/08/nprmakes-
    false-connection-between-climate-change-and-disease

Climate At A Glance is a Project of The Heartland Institute

Email: think@heartland.org