Fact Check: Global warming and carbon dioxide not healthy for us

Environmentalists take part in a bicycle ride to show solidarity for the global movement for climate justice in Manila in this past photo.

On June 13, 2022, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene Representing Georgia's 14th District went on the ‘Right Side Broadcasting Network’ to argue in favor of carbon emissions and global warming.

During the interview, she said that earth warming and carbon are healthy for us.

She went on to say: “We have already warmed one degree Celsius, and do you know what has happened since then? Here let me tell you: we have had more food grown since then which feeds people. Producing fossil fuels keeps people warm in the winter. That saves people’s lives-people die in the cold. The earth is more green than it was years ago, and that is because of the earth's warming, that’s because of carbon.”

This claim is false, as the United Nations has stated that in the next 30 years, food supply and food security will be severely threatened if little or no action is taken to address climate change and the food system's vulnerability to climate change.

That we have had more food grown is false, as the UN also notes that increase in crop yields in some countries is true, partly because of the carbon dioxide fertilisation effect where increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere aid plant growth, the effects are not permanent and will not balance the global negative effects of climate change. 

The UN also notes that yield growth for wheat, maize, and other crops has been declining in many countries due to extreme heat, severe weather, and droughts.

By some estimates, in the absence of effective adaptation, global yields could decline by up to 30 per cent by 2050.”

The claim that the earth is more green because of global warming is also false, as NASA attributes this to ambitious tree planting programs.

The World Bank records that the number of people suffering acute food insecurity increased from 135 million in 2019 to 345 million in 82 countries by June 2022, thanks to Ukraine-Russsia war, supply chain disruptions, Covid-19 and climate change.

“Up to a certain point, rising temperatures and CO2 can be beneficial for crops. But rising temperatures also accelerate evapotranspiration from plants and soils, and there must also be enough water for crops to thrive.  For areas of the world that are already water-constrained, climate change will increasingly cause adverse impacts on agricultural production through diminishing water supplies, increases in extreme events like floods and severe storms, heat stress, and increased prevalence of pests and diseases,” notes the World Bank.

“Without solutions, falling crop yields, especially in the world's most food-insecure regions, will push more people into poverty – an estimated 43 million people in Africa alone could fall below the poverty line by 2030 as a result,” it adds.

 Global warming has also been blamed for  worsening human health conditions especially in tropical regions.

In Africa for example, temperature increase leads to increase in mosquito populations, which result in higher cases of malaria and other insect bone infections. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that climate change may result in increased respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, injuries and premature deaths related to extreme weather events, changes in geographical  distribution of food and water borne illnesses, and threats to mental health.

In the agricultural sector, rising temperature is believed to   lead to soil degradation, loss of productivity of agricultural land, desertification, loss of biodiversity, reduced freshwater resources , acidification of oceans and disruption and depletion of stratospheric ozone

 PubMed Central states that “The effect of temperature on agriculture is linked to the availability of water and food production, which can be threatened by prolonged periods of drought or by the excessive rainfall. The agricultural sector employs 70% of water resources, representing the largest user of freshwater. During the last century, irrigated areas have risen fivefold. For 2025 forecast shows that 64% of the world's population will live in water-stressed basins.8”

“Higher temperatures may also facilitate the introduction of new pathogens, vectors, or hosts that result in increasing need of pesticides and fertilisers in agriculture. These toxic substances accumulate in the food chain, pollute groundwater resources, and could be easily spread through the air. Risks from many pathogens, particulate and particle-associated contaminants could thus significantly increase human exposures to pathogens and chemicals in agricultural and even in temperate regions ,” it adds. 

This fact check was produced by Daily Nation with support from Code for Africa’s Pesa Check, International Fact Checking Network, and African Fact Checking Alliance Network.