Saturday, December 19, 2009

Newspapers are the Jokers in the Global Warming Debate

"Global Warming is Not a Myth: Temperature in the City [Bangalore] has changed by 2 degrees."

This is a headline in Times of India.
Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of moronic headlines that detracts people from understanding what Global Warming is all about.
And moronic is an understatement.

The news is about a workshop on Climate Change and Sustainable Development organised in Bangalore by The Energy and Research Institute (TERI). To be fair to the workshop, the increase of the 2 degree rise in temperature is attributed to changes in land usage and poor city planning ("The cut-and-paste model used by architects who duplicate European style is an additional factor. Buildings in tropical countries like India don't need to absorb heat ...").

But screaming your lung out (half an inch high, bold headlines is screaming) that Global Warming is not a myth because the temperature of a poorly planned city that has cut trees and placed concrete slabs all over is just bad science and irresponsible press.

Local warming may or may not contribute to Global Warming. It is very important to distinguish between the two phenomenon. Here's a short, good article on the subject: Are Urban Heat Islands Linked to Global Warming?. To reiterate the article's main point: "An urban heat island is a metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. Unlike global warming, which entails a worldwide rise in temperatures, heat islands occur at the local level."

Global Warming is a serious issue being discussed on various fora. There seems to be consensus but no one knows for sure. The dissenters seem to make sense too. As it is it is difficult to determine who is correct, who is not. In midst of all this, irresponsible newspaper reporting is the last thing the debate needs.

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