By Michael Bastasch, DCNF
Doubling-down on his campaign to tie global warming to respiratory illness, President Obama told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that global warming gave his daughter, Malia, asthma when she was a toddler.
Scary stuff, but there’s just one problem for Obama: comments a couple years ago made by his wife Michelle suggest that being in a crowded circus with lots of dust and particles in the air triggered their daughter’s asthma, not global warming. Their daughter also has a peanut allergy, and circuses are usually teaming with peanuts.
Despite that glaring fact, Obama continued to use his daughter’s asthma to further political ends.
“You worry the environment, the climate, has impacted on your own daughter,” Dr. Richard Besser, ABC’s chief health and medical editor, asked Obama in an interview the day after the White House launched a renewed effort to tie asthma to global warming.
“Well you know Malia had asthma when she was 4 and because we had good health insurance, we were able to knock it out early,” Obama told Besser.
“What I can relate to is the fear a parent has when your four-year-old daughter comes up to you and says, ‘Daddy, I’m having trouble breathing.’ The fright you feel is terrible,” Obama continued. “And if we can make sure that our responses to the environment are reducing those incidents, that’s something that I think every parent would wish for.”
Obama then said that when he went to Occidental College in Los Angeles in 1979 he could feel his lungs burn after about five minutes of running outside because the air pollution was so bad.
“We took steps to deal with it, and today, it’s not perfect, but it’s a whole lot better,” Obama said of LA’s air pollution. “And the same thing is true with climate change.”
On Tuesday the White House launched a campaign to illustrate the effects global warming will have on public health, in particular the White House said that global temperature rises will make asthma worse for kids across the country.
But Obama’s “worry” that global warming gave his daughter asthma may be overblown. In 2012, Michelle Obama claimed their daughter got asthma around the same time while at the circus, sayingthe family had to make sure their house was “dust- and dander-free, and don’t bring in anything that will disrupt her.”
The Obama family even got a hypoallergenic dog, after Barack became president, so it wouldn’t trigger Malia’s asthma.
“In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital,” the White House said in a fact sheet.
The problem is that, White House claims that global warming is exacerbating asthma are lacking in evidence. For starters, the basic argument that warming will make asthma worse — mainly through increased episodes of extreme heat, ground-level ozone and smoke from wildfires — lacks support.
Asthma prevalence has increased in the U.S. while major air pollutants like ozone, particulate matter and carbon monoxide have fallen dramatically, according to government data.
A study by John’s Hopkins Children’s Center published in January also threw a wrench into Obama’s asthma claims. The study found there is no link between air pollution and childhood asthma.
Rather than air pollution, researchers found that poverty was a greater predictor of asthma rates — a major departure from science the EPA says backs up strict regulations on air pollutants.
“Our results highlight the changing face of pediatric asthma and suggest that living in an urban area is, by itself, not a risk factor for asthma,” Dr. Corinne Keet, a pediatric allergy and asthma specialist at Johns Hopkins and the study’s lead researcher, said in a statement. “Instead, we see that poverty and being African American or Puerto Rican are the most potent predictors of asthma risk.”
But tying global warming to personal health worries has been part of the EPA’s strategy since 2009 when the agency hired political strategists to develop a messaging strategy to tackle the issue.
“Polar ice caps and the polar bears have become the climate change ‘mascots,’ if you will, and personify the challenges we have in making this issue real for many Americans,” according to an EPAmemo from March 2009.
“Most Americans will never see a polar ice cap, nor will most have the chance to see a polar bear in its natural habitat,” the memo reads. “Therefore, it is easy to detach from the seriousness of this issue. Unfortunately, climate change in the abstract is an increasingly — and consistently — unpersuasive argument to make.”
“By revitalizing our own Children’s Health Office, leading the global charge on this issue, and highlighting the children’s health dimension to all of our major initiatives — we will also make this issue real for many Americans who otherwise would oppose many of our regulatory actions,” according to a memo obtained by Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner through a Freedom of Information Act request.