Insurer’s Climate Change Claims: A Mountain of Lies


Kaiser Permanente’s corporate logo is not — repeat is not — an image of the sky falling.

We are in a new era of healthcare, one heralded by an outrageous assault on reason, facts, and science by Kaiser Permanente this week and which the mainstream media, spurred by a Harvard blog, passed along as “news.”

I’ll go through the claims made by Kaiser Permanente’s spokeswoman Kathy Gerwig, one by one.

1. Severe weather is increasing. No it is not. As I show in my book, drought, forest fires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes were all worse — or at least as bad as they are now — in the past. If the Dust Bowl took place again today, it would immediately be laid at the feet of “climate change.” What has changed is that the brief window of objectivity regarding weather and climate that the world saw during the mid-20th century has been closed. We’re back to witch-burning now, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

2. Respiratory diseases are being worsened by the burning of fossil fuels. The exact opposite is true. So long as human beings burn wood and dung for heating and cooking as they do still do in the Third World, life expectancy is dramatically lowered. If you want to improve the health of all human beings, then you want to get them off the dung and onto the fossil fuels. Green alternatives are expensive, feel-good gestures that create destructive, often lethal fuel poverty.

3. Infectious diseases, including malaria, are spreading due to manmade global warming. A couple of problems here: (A) Malaria is not a tropical disease (I cover this in Don’t Sell Your Coat as well); and (B) the claim that malaria is “spreading” to the United States is laughable — the disease has killed Americans in all but one U.S. states and was so bad in Georgia that the U.S. government put the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to help combat it decades ago. What diminished malaria in the U.S. was D.D.T., period.

4. The “we don’t know what we don’t know” conundrum (a.k.a. there’s a giant bogeyman in the closet). Listen, here’s what we do know: The past half-century isn’t very warm compared to many other times in Earth’s climatological history.  The four interglacials before our own were all warmer, the Eemian by two degrees Celsius. Sea level during the Eemian was 15 feet higher than today.

Does Kathy Gerwig know any of this? I suspect not. If only Matt Drudge would let her know!!

In the meantime, a major U.S. healthcare provider willfully making its services more expensive by switching to less reliable and more expensive fuel sources under the guise of saving the world from a sky that is not actually falling is the ultimate in irresponsibility. Am I surprised that Kaiser Permanente would play its cards this way, after watching it fail to deliver quality healthcare to myself and several family members. Not in the least.

About Harold Ambler

I am a lifelong environmentalist. I started my journalism career at The New Yorker, where I worked as a copy editor. Since then, my own work has appeared in The New York Daily News, The National Review Online, The Atlantic Wire, The Huffington Post, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Providence Journal, Brown Alumni Monthly, The Narragansett Times, Rhode Island Monthly, and Providence Business News.
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