The so-called liberal news media (also called “the news media”) has largely ignored the implication of the President’s recent comments on the link between child health and climate change, but not every source. In a couple of recent interviews, Obama has attributed his determination to control global warming to a personal interest in childhood asthma.
A White House “fact sheet” on climate change notes that the percentage of Americans with asthma has “more than doubled’ in the last three decades [ I haven’t checked these statistics; as you know, the President fudges numbers frequently], and says that “climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital,” with those at greatest peril including children, the elderly, the poor, those who are ill and minority communities. “Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons, and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries,” the document informs us.
Speaking on ABC with chief health correspondent Dr. Richard Besser, the President connected climate change to a frightening Obama family episode. “Well you know, Malia had asthma when she was four, and because we had good health insurance, we were able to knock it out early,” the President said. The children of less successful parents, however, won’t be as lucky, Obama said. “It will be an all-around benefit to society if asthma can be curtailed.”
This is standard issue climate change fear-mongering, along with the convenient and cynical use of children to drive emotional responses from the public rather than allow them to rationally weigh facts, options, and the balancing of costs with benefits and risks. The entire climate change debate has been waged in this unethical manner, on both sides of the issue, and thus has been incompetent, irresponsible, and untrustworthy.
There is something else here, however.
USA Today makes a strong case that there was another more likely cause of Malia’s breathing problems: her father.
President Obama blames global warming for his daughter’s asthma. Today that’s politically useful spin, but the science says something different. If you’re looking for a culprit, it just might be Malia’s dad. . . .
Whether there is a link between asthma and global warming, Malia herself hasn’t really experienced much. The high school junior was born in 1998, when temperatures spiked. By some measurements, the world hasn’t warmed significantly since then.
Which brings us back to her father and his Marlboros. The president, who quit smoking years ago, has long kept his tobacco use out of doors. That’s a common-sense tactic for folks who have trouble quitting. But sometimes, science can show that common sense has less sense than you think.
Research funded by the National Institutes of Health has shown that smoking outside doesn’t totally protect children from secondhand smoke. Even when smoking is done outside, nicotine in infants’ hair is five times higher for babies with outside smoking parents than non-smoking parents. Smoking-related chemicals in infants’ urine is seven times higher. Other studies have found similar results.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “tobacco smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers,” and “if you have asthma, it’s important that you avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.”
No father wants to feel that his habits might hurt his children. But sometimes you have to look in the mirror to find the guilty party, not search the stratosphere for a hidden culprit.
On the positive side, the President did not blame George W. Bush for his daughter’s asthma.