There are many scientific studies into global warming and climate change, but the only knowledge that many of us have of these studies is from reports and articles in the news. Public opinion is therefore influenced mainly by the second hand information, rather than the facts direct from the source. There is no problem with this for the majority of cases, however at times the scientific studies can be misinterpreted, or misrepresented, meaning that the public are basing their decisions and beliefs on false information.
This was the case earlier in the week when a frenzy erupted as news stations, papers, and websites started to report that wind farms are actually contributing to global warming. As a supposedly clean energy source this was quite clearly a big shock to many.
The source of the controversial news was a short study published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change by Liming Zhou, a scientist at the University of Albany. Zhou had analysed data from various satellites about the wind farms in west-central Texas, and found that between 2003 and 2011, due to the wind turbines drawing warmer air from the upper atmosphere down towards the surface, the surface temperature in the immediate vicinity had heated up. Orange growers in Florida use giant fans to protect their crop from the frost based on the same principle.
An increase in surface temperature in local vicinities is not the same as carbon emissions affecting the atmosphere to such an extent that excess heat is trapped, and the average temperature increases around the entire globe; but that didn’t stop some reporters trying to twist the facts and fabricate a controversial story out of nothing.
Zhou explained that, “the warming effect reported in this study is local and is small compared to the strong background year-to-year land surface temperature changes. Very likely, the wind turbines do not create a net warming of the air and instead only re-distribute the air’s heat near the surface, which is fundamentally different from the large-scale warming effect caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.”
There may be a possibility that vastly increasing the number of wind farm installations all around the world, could affect the global wind streams sufficiently to alter weather patterns, and therefore maybe change temperatures. Studies into this theory are still on-going, but one thing is certain; humanity doesn’t have anywhere near enough wind capacity to impact on the global environment at the moment.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com