Good News / Bad News for Media Science

The good news:  The AZ Republic actually published a front page story (link now fixed) on the urban heat island effect in Phoenix, and has a discussion of how changes in ground cover, vegetation, and landscaping can have substantial effects on temperatures, even over short distances.  Roger Pielke would be thrilled, as he has trouble getting even the UN IPCC to acknowledge this fact.

The bad news:  The bad news comes in three parts

  1. The whole focus of the story is staged in the context of rich-poor class warfare, as if the urban heat island effect is something the rich impose on the poor.  It is clear that without this class warfare angle, it probably would never have made the editorial cut for the paper.
  2. In putting all the blame on “the rich,” they miss the true culprit, which are leftish urban planners whose entire life goal is to increase urban densities and eliminate suburban “sprawl” and 2-acre lots.  But it is the very densities that cause the poor to live in the hottest temperatures, and it is the 2-acre lots that shelter “the rich” from the heat island effects.
  3. Not once do the authors take the opportunity to point out that such urban heat island effects are likely exaggerating our perceptions of Co2-based warming — that in fact some or much of the warming we ascribe to Co2 is actually due to this heat island effect in areas where we have measurement stations.

My son and I quantified the Phoenix urban heat island years ago in this project.

I am still wondering why Phoenix doesn’t investigate lighter street paving options.  They use all black asphalt, and just changing this approach (can you have lighter asphalt?) would be a big help.  By the way, our house is all white with a white foam roof, so we are doing our part to fight the heat island!

  • James H

    Other measures to mitigate the heat island aren’t well liked, such as having more grassy yards instead of rock. Grass drops the temperature significantly by evaporative cooling, but of course requires much more water. Perhaps there is enough effluent to water yards with, but anyway nobody seems interested in this idea to investigate it.

    I guess we’re all supposed to feel guilty somehow that it’s a bit cooler at night where we choose to live (for those of us in suburbs), but what is the article suggesting as an alternative? Buy the poor folks houses in the ‘burbs? I don’t get it.

  • Yes, you can have lighter-colored asphalt if the rock is lighter in color. Red asphalt is common in the Pacific Northwest where the source of rock is red lava. It would be expensive to import red lava rock into Phoenix if there are no local sources.

  • ADiff

    The article indicated that ‘oasis’ landscaping (i.e. grass) can reduce this effect only marginally more than climate appropriate desert landscaping. The difference could likely be further reduced with very low water use ground covers (i.e. rosemary and so forth) if the conventional idea of a ‘lawn’ is discarded. But the primary cooling effect of grass is not radiation, but evapo-transpiration. The worst offenders in ‘heat island’ are automobiles and their ‘habitats’…i.e. parking lots, parking garages, highways, and so forth. I found it interesting that some of the ‘Historic’ neighborhoods lush lawns were used as examples in the article. These neighborhoods are low density, and by law cannot be modified to higher density multi-family or even zero lot line. Beyond the energy expenditure on that lush landscaping, the legally preserved historic structures are very energy inefficient (this can be ameliorated, but not eliminated, as it’s an artifact of design)…yet it’s these highly inefficient, energy intensive, environmentally exorbitant communities which are home to the most evangelical and judgmental of the local leftist ‘environmental’ activists….a perfect example, to my mind, of those who desire to dictate to others but avoid the same impacts for themselves. Some apparently remain “more equal than others”.

    The urban heat island effect is obvious to anyone who’s lived in places like Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque and similar cities during their past 20 years growth. It’s very hard to imagine how it could not have impacted temperature trends in such locations, at the very least, over that period!

  • hunter

    Lovely – more proof, as if any were needed, that you are completely illiterate. You obviously have never read any IPCC report, or even looked at the contents page. The worst thing is, no matter how idiotic your claims about the IPCC and what they do or don’t say, a few yapping idiots will actually agree with you, and your pitiable intellect means that there is no chance of you realising that you are mistaken.

  • ron rom Texas

    Hunter: first off insulting people is not how you successfully debate a scientific or even political issue.
    Second, arrogance doesn’t count as proof of AGW.
    Third, there have been several IPCC reports of projections, all of them wrong, which does poorly for the theory, itself.
    Fourth, this year, current IPCC members are also aknowledging and even forecasting a cool period, which goes against the prediction of their computer models. But I see you neglected to leave that tidbit out, no doubt, because it would cast doubt on the theory you wish to hold above all others.
    Fifth, the leader of the IPCC is an economist, not a scientist or climate specialist.
    Sixth, the original program upon which the computer climate models were first run was an economist’s forecasting program for the commodities market, which is only designed to handle one or two variables at a time.
    Seventh, disbelief in the IPCC reports does not mean a person is ingorant.

    Your trying to discuss matters of faith in a scientific venue and I think you will have problems with that.

  • hunter

    “ron rom Texas” – you seem barely literate yourself, so maybe you can advise whether there is any way of “debating” with an illiterate fool who holds strong beliefs. I don’t think there is. The illiterate fool who writes this shit-filled site has never been known to respond to any argument, no matter how clear or simple, so I just insult him for fun.

    You clearly have never looked at the predictions made by any climate model, and fuck knows what you’re talking about with your crazed ravings about commodities markets. Care to explain further?

    Have you ever read an IPCC report, or even a table of contents? Are you aware of how much discussion of urban heat islands they contain? Refusing to accept or even understand the conclusions of a report is one thing; refusing to accept the existence of the discussion is desperately, appallingly, tragically stupid.

  • hunter (the real one)

    Setting aside the troll still squatting on my name,
    getting the AGW community to actually deal with the implictions of land use changes as a major driver of climate is going to be a tough one.
    Hansen & pals cannot acknowledge that CO2 is not the dominant driver. They are too embedded in the CO2 game.
    ron rom,
    Great troll work. It is always fascinating to watch AGW true believers in action. they invariably attack the person making the question, and only very rarely bother to deal with the questions raised. This is not simply true of the leach sitting on my name here. it is true at nearly every board I visit.

  • hunter (the sane one)

    hunter the troll,
    Please do tell us where in the IPCC report they discuss the overstatement and mis-measurement of of warming trends by way of badly sited measurements, and poorly accounted UHI influences.
    Please also continue winning friends and moving discussions forward by being your charming self.
    The interesting thing is how true believers in AGW worldwide all utilize the same faux-science facade to avoid actually dealing with the failure of the AGW community to do anything other than waste money and act rudely.
    My hope is all true believers will do exactly as you in the run up to Copenhagen. Do it loudly and do it often. Be as rude, uninformative It is one of the great indicators that you have already lost the political argument, even as you lost the science long ago. Arrogance, rudeness, dissembling, authoritarian arguments and vicious ad homs are all part of a winning strategy in any marketing plan. For the other side of the issue.
    Play on. You are as unoriginal as your theft of my name implies.

  • AnonyMoose

    Phoenix has been trying to keep cool for a long time. Hot blacktop has also been known for a long time, so either they’re ignoring it, it doesn’t work, or it costs too much. Because there are plenty of ways of painting and coating, “no method” is ruled out. The temperature of blacktop is so much hotter than many other surfaces that something should work. So they’re ignoring it or it costs too much. The most likely way to make it not be ignored is to have a very cheap alternative. Whatever one might be, it’s not obvious. Any civil engineer who looked at the problem would have considered all the nearby mineral products.

  • There seems to be another factor at work also. There are lots of subdivisions of middle class new housing where the houses are densely packed. I suspect that consumers are exercising their preference for indoor square footage over outdoor square footage. These houses are always roofed with Spanish tile, which probably doesn’t help.

  • Pogo

    I’ve been making a study of the responses from the fake “hunter”, and have concluded that it is not a person, it’s a bot that’s derived from a scatalogical version of the old “Eliza” program.

  • Bob Sykes

    Reinforced concrete pavement will do nicely.

    It’s somewhat more expensive to construct than asphaltic concrete, but if with proper foundations is much more durable. This would be especially true in the Southwest because there is no frost action and no road salt to rust the reinforcing.

    Most of the interstate system has an asphaltic wearing surface over a reinforced concrete slab base. This is simply to avoid the noise of running over the slab joints, and it is easier to get a very smooth surface with asphaltic concretes.

  • Ragnar Danneskjöld

    The urban heat island effect is very apparent in Breckenridge, CO where I live. In the summer I walk on concrete and asphalt past the slopeside hotels and condos to access the hiking trails on the mountain. The concrete, asphalt, and buildings abruptly end and the slopes begin, and almost right away I feel the slightly cooler temperature, maybe 2ºF, and as distance increases temperatures drop more. Breckenridge is a small town, so by extrapolating it becomes very apparent that large cities have “super” urban heat island effects rather than “baby” urban heat island effects in small towns like Breck. How can warming alarmists ignore this easily verifiable fact and not admit that surface temperature records might/probably are inaccurate due to the effect?

  • Pol

    The Dutch newsmagazine ‘Elsevier’ has published an article on the fact that the Royal Dutch Weather Institution (KNMI) has measured the wrong temperature over the last couple of years. A competing weather institution (Meteoconsult) measured consequently a temperature that was about half a degree lower at a nearby location in ‘De Bilt’, which is the official Dutch weather station. Apparently the weather station was near a tree-line that grew higher and higher in recent years. Now that they moved their weather station to a more open location the temperatures are about the same as those of Meteoconsult again. Is this an incident or are there more examples out there? http://www.elsevier.nl/web/Nieuws/Wetenschap/246638/KNMI-meet-jarenlang-foute-temperatuur.htm?rss=true

  • Alan D. McIntire

    You might find this of interest.

    http://www.stroudcenter.org/about/pdfs/Dow2000-WRR-TrendsEvaporationBowenRatio.pdf

    The trend for cities is more water runoff down sewer drains, less water evaporating, reducing the cooling effect from the latent heat of vaporization.

    And John Christy did a study on the effects of irrigating the San Joaquin Valley, showing that as
    a result, daytime temperatures went down thanks to plant transpiration, while nighttime temperatures went up more than the daytime temperatures went down- the net effect of irrigation was a slight warming if you figure temperatures as 1/2(MAX – MIN). I wonder why this is not emphasized more- Even if there were a small positive water feedback, who gives a damn if the net effect is a slight cooling during the day, and smomwhat less cooling during the night? –