Which is a More Important Determinant of Malaria -- Climate Change or Socioeconomic Development?
Béguin, A., Hales, S., Rocklöv, J., Åström, C., Louis, V.R. and Sauerborn, R. 2011. The opposing effects of climate change and socio-economic development on the global distribution of malaria. Global Environmental Change 21: 1209-1214.
The PAR is derived from information on the presence or absence of P. vivax malaria in 1990 based on a logistic model for malaria presence that used three parameters: the mean temperature of the coldest month, and the mean precipitation of the wettest month during the period 1961-1990, and the square root of income. Accordingly, the PAR is not directly reflective of the health impacts of malaria. Secular technological change was ignored in this study.
The results are indicated in the table below.
In the words of the authors, "under the A1B climate scenario, climate change has much weaker effects than GDPpc increase on the geographic distribution of malaria." This result is consistent with the few studies that have considered the impact of climate change and socioeconomic factors on malaria. See, e.g., (Tol and Dowlatabadi, 2001; Bosello et al., 2006). With respect to malaria, therefore, climate change is a relatively minor factor compared to economic development. In other words, it is more important to pursue economic development rather than to pursue reductions in climate change.
Addendum: The study makes a gratuitous claim that the above result is "dependent on optimistic, and potentially unsustainable, economic growth. Even then, climate change has important effects on the projected distribution of malaria, leading to an increase of over 200 million in the projected population at risk." (p. 1214). However, it should be noted that if the growth rate is unsustainable then the emission estimates, and the estimated climate change for the A1B scenario is, likewise, overstated, as would be the impacts of climate change.
Bosello, F., Roson, R. and Tol, R.S.J. 2006. Economy-wide estimates of the implications of climate change: human health. Ecological Economics 58: 579-591.
Tol, R.S.J. and Dowlatabadi, H. 2001. Vector-borne diseases, development & climate change. Integrated Assessment 2: 173-181.