The National Post runs a very worrying story on growing bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Which might seem to have nothing to do with climate unless someone blames MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) on global warming which, oddly, they didn’t. But toward the end the piece it quotes the chair of the panel that did the study, University of B.C. microbiologist B. Brett Finlay, that “If climate change wasn’t here this would probably be the number one pressing issue facing humanity”. So how much was said about each issue during the election? Climate change isn’t just a harmless fashionable panic. It’s sucking the oxygen out of public debate… and sucking up vast amounts of research money and talent urgently needed for real problems.
It’s amazing that antibiotic-resistant diseases aren’t being blamed on climate change when everything else is, from dengue fever to super-itchy poison ivy. And the worst part is, maybe it should be. Not the phenomenon in itself, which is a very predictable result of careless medical practices and the mighty power of evolution that biologists claim to believe in yet failed to foresee in this particularly ghastly predator-prey-parasite situation. But the failure to focus on it.
Despite the canard that we “deniers” are in the deep comfy pockets of Big Oil, the real money in climate is in alarmism. Not a week goes by that Canada’s federal government doesn’t announce thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars for climate-related initiatives. And some of it is the usual political smoke and mirrors where they announce the same spending multiple times or tag something they were going to do anyway as climate-related for greenie points. But a lot of it is real, and of course other governments are doing the same including the very deep-pocketed American one.
By contrast, months go by without an announcement of spending on barrier medicine, rethinking hospital structures, finding ways to alternate different antibiotics so as to disrupt the adaptive process or whatever we might be able to do in this desperate battle not to return to a world where dialysis or Caesarians are too risky and a blister can get infected and kill. As the article warns, something like a quarter of infections are resistant to front-line treatments and when it reaches 40% it’s a significant tipping point.
Of course, again, it’s not the case that the money isn’t being spent just because you’re not getting bombarded with PR about it. Press releases reflect what politicians and bureaucrats think people want to hear about far more than they do what’s really going on, good or bad. But it’s also true that money spent on climate research can’t also be spent on medical research, and time politicians as well as researchers spend thinking about climate change can’t also be spent thinking about bacteriological change.
So yes, it matters a great deal that so much of our energy and resources are being absorbed by a panic that even most “alarmist” scientists do not think is an existential crisis. And one day soon we may come to regret it.