Here, let me fix that headline for you

Deadly collision? Really? This must be before they remove all the automobiles from London per the recent edict from the EU/EC. The author must have suffered through too many “BBQ summer” heat waves in the London tube.

Here’s more:

“We are seeing how urbanisation is growing – we have passed the threshold of 50% (of the world’s population living in urban areas),” he told BBC News.

“There are no signs that we are going to diminish this path of growth, and we know that with urbanisation, energy consumption is higher.

According to UN data, an estimated 59% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2030.

Every year, the number of people who live in cities and town grows by 67 million each year – 91% of this figure is being added to urban populations in developing countries.

The main reasons why urban areas were energy intensive, the UN report observed, was a result of increased transport use, heating and cooling homes and offices, as well as economic activity to generate income.

The report added that as well as cities’ contribution to climate change, towns and cities around the globe were also vulnerable to the potential consequences, such as:

  • Increase in the frequency of warm spells/heat waves over most land areas
  • Greater number of heavy downpours
  • Growing number of areas affected by drought
  • Increase in the incidence of extremely high sea levels in some parts of the world

The first two are effects of UHI, especially downwind of city enhanced precipitation effects. The last two have nothing to do with city growth at all.

But who are you to believe, the UN or the lying eyes of the satellites and the data they produce?

Providence, R.I. Providence, RI, in natural color, infrared, vegetation and developed land

Anyone can measure their city UHI effect themselves. It makes a great science fair project.

Of course, my friend Jim Goodridge, former California State Climatologist, had this nailed in 1996 with his study of surface temperature in California:

The full BBC scare story is here h/t to a bunch of people, you know who you are.

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Patrick Davis
March 29, 2011 7:01 am

Well, it is the BBC. What do you expect?

Jeff in Calgary
March 29, 2011 7:04 am

What does 70% of emissions and 2% of land mass have to do with anything? How about 70% of emissions and X% of population. That would be a little more relavent.
Not to mention, if all those people spread out, there would be a lot of deforestation, and more commuting.
These guys are brainless. I have a hard time believing that a story like this even got by the editor; but obviously it did.

March 29, 2011 7:07 am

Energy consumption is higher with urbanization? I think not. Who drives puts more miles on their car, the guy who lives in a city and works 10 miles from his home, or the guy that lives out in the boondocks and is 60 miles from the nearest store? What requires more heating and A/C, a farm house or an apartment?

John Marshall
March 29, 2011 7:09 am

So What!
The BBC again has embroidered claims of severe problems onto the claims of urban problems.
With atmospheric CO2 levels rising, and global temperatures falling reality is refusing to follow the models.
I have complained many times to the BBC that their reporting of events, with a 0.5% slant that could be made to blame human actions the BBC come out 100% on the side of humans to blame.
And I am forced, by law, to pay for this organization to continue with the rubbish that they spout.

March 29, 2011 7:13 am

What else do you expect from the BBC?
It is controlled by Common Purpose who are implementing the Agenda 21 sustainable development plan in the UK:

David S
March 29, 2011 7:19 am

You have crossed out “climate change” and replaced it with UHI. Perhaps you should replace “science and environment” with “alarm and hysteria” in the title.
Interesting that even the UN appears to have broadly accepted McKitrick and Michaels’ case about the factors that cause UHI. I drove into London from a semi-rural part of the commuter belt a few nights ago and the thermometer on my car showed a rise from 3ºC to 8ºC along the way, then back to 2ºC by the time I got home (probably freezing or below in a truly rural setting). Perhaps the UHI denialists can come on here and explain how this can happen without creating distortions in the global temperature anomaly data.

March 29, 2011 7:19 am

Robert Wille
Urbanisation is an aggregate; i.e. rural dwellers generally are contributors to the food supply whereas urban dwellers are 100% consumers. You don’t usually have cattle in the next apartment in a city. Energy for urban life needs to also factor in trucking EVERYTHING into the city plus the load taken up by the rural dwellers to create/grow/raise that which is consumed in the cities.
And that’s just food.
So YES there is on average more energy expended per capita in urban environments.

March 29, 2011 7:20 am

Washington is contemplating budget cuts. Cutting off all funding to the UN should be high on the list.

March 29, 2011 7:22 am

2% sounds like a hell of alot of landmass. Are there any geographers out there who can verify this figure?

March 29, 2011 7:27 am

“…the world’s cities were responsible for about 70% of emissions, yet occupied 2% of the planet’s land cover.”
Is the author suggesting that the cities should spread out more?

March 29, 2011 7:31 am

I suggest a new headline: ‘The Perils of the UN Should Be Ignored’

March 29, 2011 7:33 am

I would think a higher percentage of the worlds population living in Cities would be praised. It means we’re not destroying natural settings with our urban sprawl.
But of course, all arguments must be twisted to serve the grand master argument of CAGW.

March 29, 2011 7:44 am

“The authors warned of a ‘deadly collision…’ ”
…and concluded that action is needed.
Translation: “Send more of your tax money to the UN.” As if the $billions wasted every year on “climate change” isn’t already 100% too much; $zero is the correct amount.
If the UN was serious about “collisions,” it would be banging the table about the inevitable collision from space [click image to embiggen].

March 29, 2011 7:48 am

It seems like only a couple of years ago the CAGW crowd wanted to concentrate most of the world’s population in cities to minimize transportation ‘pollution’. Now they seem to want to ruralize the population to reduce the UHI effect. The warmists continue to throw things against the wall to see what sticks.

Roger Longstaff
March 29, 2011 7:53 am

Patrick Davis says:
March 29, 2011 at 7:01 am
Well, it is the BBC. What do you expect?
Quite so! I made a formal complaint to the BBC about that disgraceful “Horizon” programme a few weeks ago, when Sir Paul Nurse (president of the Royal Society) stated that human activity was responsible for 7 times more CO2 emissions than nature. I am still waiting for a reply.
What does it take, short of revolution, to make these idiots act responsibly?

March 29, 2011 8:02 am

The planet Earth is populated by human beings, SCARY stuff!
BTW, these so called experts in social and environmental sciences will find it hard to find jobs outside academia, government jobs, working the UN and by working for NGO’s.

March 29, 2011 8:05 am

Err just thought I’d point out that you don’t need “BBQ summer” to get heat waves in the London tube.
If you ever travel on the central line even in the depths of winter it’s blooming hot 🙁
Most of the central part of the tube is now too hot, I now walk across central London to avoid the heat, mind you the advantage of that is you get to see what a great city London is 🙂

March 29, 2011 8:10 am

Do you want to complain to the BBC?
One thing to get straight from the start: – responsibility for the BBC’s editorial content within their Editorial Guidlines rests ultimately with the Director-General, as Editor-in-Chief. This may save complainants a great deal of frustration as the vast Kafka-like bureaucratic monster that the BBC has become will have you pushed from pillar to post as each department asserts that their department is not the one to deal with your complaint, and fobs you off to yet another department or the BBC’s “complaints” web page. Having had a long experience of dealing with BBC producers and editors, I can say with some authority that complaints are routinely ignored, dismissed, or, as in the case of emails, deleted by one of their army of “screeners” who filter out all averse comments from their boss’ Inbox.
So write a letter to this bloke, who’s supposedly running the joint:
Mark Thompson, BBCDirector-General
Broadcasting House
Portland Place
020 7580 4468
Fax 020 7637 1630
Contact the BBC directly –
The BBC Trust
“Your complaint is important to us. The BBC Trust ensures BBC programmes are high quality. If you have a complaint please use this process.”
– Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust.
Re. AGW bias:
Last year, Alison Hastings said this:
“The BBC must be inclusive, consider the broad perspective, and ensure that the existence of a range of views is appropriately reflected. In addition, the new guideline extends the definition of “controversial” subjects beyond those of public policy and political or industrial controversy to include controversy within religion, science, finance, culture, ethics and other matters.”
Contacting her directly –
Alison Hastings
BBC Trust Unit
180 Great Portland Street
Telephone: 03700 100 222
Textphone: 03700 100 212
Email: Send your complaint
For the record, I have written to Alison Hastings myself about the BBC’s coverage of AGW, and I can tell you that she did not reply. Instead, I got a letter from her Correspondence Manager, Bruce Vander. He said that the Trust has no role in editorial matters, which are the domain of the BBC’s management. The Trust’s role is to set out the overall framework, known as the BBC’s Editorial Guidlines, which set out the values and standards that all BBC output should meet. He also pointed me to the complaints page: and said the Trust conducts regular impartiality reviews of BBC editorial content. The current impartiality review concerns science coverage, including global warming, and its findings are due to be published later this year.
From all that, I conclude the way to complain is firstly via the complaints page, then to the management, then finally to the Director-General himself.
The BBC will only change their behaviour on this subject if they get a regular avalanche of complaints from the public. They are an insulated, self-serving, arrogant, incestous bureaucracy which ignores the very public it proclaims itself to serve. The more you let them get away with it, the more they will get away with. If the BBC knows their biased and unfair treatment of AGW and the participants in their programs will invoke an avalanche of objections from viewers and listeners, they may well alter the content of their programs to make them less biased and unfair.
Also write to the BBC Complaints department –
BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
There are three stages to the BBC Complaints process. Within 30 working days of the transmission or event you can either:
make a complaint via this website:
Call BBC Audience Services on 03700 100 222
(UK-wide rate charged at no more than 01/02 geographic numbers; calls may be recorded for training)
or write (as above) to BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Darlington DL3 0UR
There is also the BBC “Feedback” program which will accept complaints online –
or write to –
PO Box number 67234
telephone 03 333 444 544
You can also complain to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom about editorial standards in radio and television broadcasts (but not about online items or the World Service). Ofcom takes complaints about BBC issues except impartiality, inaccuracy and some commercial issues which remain the responsibility of the BBC Trust. Visit the Ofcom website to read about its remit and how to complain.
BBC Statement:
We monitor and report in public on the complaints we receive and learn from them to improve our programmes and services.
Stage 1: What happens first when I make a complaint?
We aim to reply to you within 10 working days depending on the nature of your complaint. We also publish public responses to significant issues of wide audience concern on this website.
If we have made a mistake we will apologise and take action to stop it happening again.
If you are dissatisfied with our first response, please contact the department which replied explaining why and requesting a further response to the complaint. If you made your original complaint through this website, you will need to use our webform again. You should normally do this within 20 working days.
Stage 2: If I’m not satisfied with this second reply, what can I do next?
If you consider that the second response you received still does not address your complaint, we will advise you how to take the matter further to this next stage. You should normally do this within 20 working days
If it is about a specific item which you believe has breached BBC editorial standards and it was broadcast or published by the BBC, it will normally be referred to the Editorial Complaints Unit. The Unit will independently investigate your complaint (normally in writing), decide if it is justified and, if so, ensure that the BBC takes appropriate action in response.
Other complaints at this stage will normally be referred to management in the division responsible. For full details of the BBC’s complaints processes please visit the BBC Trust website
Stage 3: If I still think the BBC has got it wrong what can I do?
The BBC Trust ensures complaints are properly handled by the BBC and that the complaints process reflects best practice and opportunities for learning.
Within 20 working days of your response at Stage 2, you may ask the BBC Trust to consider an appeal against the finding. If the BBC Trust upholds an appeal it expects management to take account of its findings.
You can write to the BBC Trust at 180 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QZ. Full details of the complaints and appeals processes are on the BBC Trust website.
We aim to treat every complainant with respect and in return expect equal consideration to be shown to our staff who handle complaints.
Email other BBC programs directly:
Broadcasting House
Newsnight Investigations
Emma Jay
Producer/Director BBC Vision Productions (Horizon)
The Today Program
Commissioning Editors
The British Broadcasting Corporation
BBC White City
201 Wood Lane
W12 7TS
George Entwistle
Controller, Knowledge Commissioning & Controller, Editorial standards (BBC Vision)
(Encompasses the new genre areas within the umbrella of Knowledge)
Emma Swain
Head of Knowledge Commissioning
Emma Swain’s role is to provide creative leadership to the team of commissioning editors, supporting the indie and inhouse producers. She will not make individual commissioning decisions, and will report to George Entwistle.
Krishan Arora
Independents Executive
Krishan doesn’t commission projects, but is the liaison between independent producers and the BBC.
Mary FitzPatrick
Executive Editor Diversity
Mary is also not a commissioner, but she works with commissioners and the like, and independent production companies to improve on-screen portrayal and diversity.
Charlotte Moore
Commissioning Editor, Documentaries
Room 6060
BBC TV Centre
Wood Lane
W12 7RJ
Emma Willis
Commissioning Executive Producer
Maxine Watson
Commissioning Executive Producer

March 29, 2011 8:13 am

NoAstronomer — Is the author suggesting that the cities should spread out more?
Good point.
Look up the argument list of greens in general and you’ll see that urban sprawl is a major target. Essentially their argument is that cities ought to remove the suburbs, build the centers up, and remove all power other than renewables. In (their) theory this would reduce CO2 due to less need for fossil fuel travel in the metroplex.
The problem of course is that as usual this is poorly thought out; the major source of emission comes from getting food etc to the metroplex in the first place, not citizens driving a few miles to work.
The more you look into the green arguments the more obvious it becomes that they are motivated solely by politics/political power with an enviro veneer painted on top hpoing to fool those who aren’t really looking.

March 29, 2011 8:16 am

The BBS news is my home page and I reeled in shock when I saw this headline and was about to send it on to you, Anthony, but thought you would have it already – you have, well done.
Note that this doom laden report from the UN is going to be launched at the LSE on Monday; the home of Lord Stern. ‘Nuff said?
I presume this has been lifted wholesale from the Press Release and one wouldn’t expect any BBC journo to add any critical thinking to the story. It beggars belief, but, as usual, readers of this blog will have to do it for the BBC. There are so many holes and contradictions in the story/fairy tale that it is hard to know where to begin. I am going to make a cup of tea instead and read something else more interesting.

son of mulder
March 29, 2011 8:27 am

On the BBC news home page it is headlined – Cities ‘feeling heat of climate’
I suggest – Climate ‘feeling the heat of cities’

Lady Life Grows
March 29, 2011 8:30 am

People live in cities for economic reasons. They use more energy because they are richer. Some folks have a problem with other humans being richer.
We are just learning how to enhance urban areas so they are healthier for both people and wild things. It is all good.

March 29, 2011 8:31 am

That’s exactly why in Canada crown corporation utilities are following orders from the WWF and soon forcing their customers to do so. They astroturf so called concerned citizens groups who in turn lobby for more green policies at the municipal level. This is subversion no more no less.

son of mulder
March 29, 2011 8:33 am

“David S says:
March 29, 2011 at 7:19 am
I drove into London from a semi-rural part of the commuter belt a few nights ago and the thermometer on my car showed a rise from 3ºC to 8ºC along the way, then back to 2ºC by the time I got home”
Clearly the interface between your satnav, thermometer and UHI compensator chip has failed and you are experiencing reality.

P Wilson
March 29, 2011 8:35 am

So bereft and confounded by the real climate of the earth, that they are now having to attribute it all to the Urban Heat Island effect, and deliberately misconstrue it as “climate change”
At last. they found a geographical parameter that is a fair bit warmer than non heat island parameters.
What luck – or on the other hand – scraping a barrel that gets emptier and emptier

Lady Life Grows
March 29, 2011 8:36 am

Paul says:
March 29, 2011 at 7:22 am
2% sounds like a hell of alot of landmass. Are there any geographers out there who can verify this figure?
I live in Colorado, where one of our Metropolitan Statistical Areas is Colorado Springs. There are two real cities there, some small towns–and a lot of farmland. You would consider most of that area rural. The City and County of Denver is all urban, but the Metro Stat Area includes mountains and other very rural places.
My guess is the 2% figure is correct, as charted by mapmakers. The actual area of housing, including lawns and streets, is surely much less.

March 29, 2011 8:38 am

Terrific article Anthony. I suspected this sort of thing was going to be part of the new marketing campaign this year. I fear this year will bring some of the most specious and sensational claims seen yet. It appears the groups peddling this agenda have amassed a significant media fund for an all out blitz. Prepare for attack.

March 29, 2011 8:55 am

Could I ask a question please out of curiosity? Is there a temperature below which UHI has no effect? Would a metropolis be warmer than the surrounding countryside if the temperature falls below say minus 20, 30 or 40 degrees.. or is there always an UHI effect no matter what the temperature? Thanks 🙂

March 29, 2011 9:02 am

The UN should obliterate those arrogant cities and its citizens inmediately. How do they dare to eat junk food and generate so much heat! 🙂

DD More
March 29, 2011 9:03 am

Well someone better notify the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) who say
Per capita energy consumption in New York is among the lowest in the Nation due in part to its widely used mass transportation systems.
The main reasons why urban areas were energy intensive, the UN report observed, was a result of increased transport use, heating and cooling homes and offices, as well as economic activity to generate income.
Don’t want these people earning any money after all, they should just be on the dole.

Steve B
March 29, 2011 9:07 am

The UK government seems determined to deprive us of a cheap and reliable electricity. The EU wants us to stop using cars. Now, presumably, the UN wants us to relocate to the countryside. Year Zero, here we come.

March 29, 2011 9:08 am

Has Goodridge added the next 14 years, or is the data available?

March 29, 2011 9:08 am

Randomengineer says –
“Urbanisation is an aggregate; i.e. rural dwellers generally are contributors to the food supply whereas urban dwellers are 100% consumers. You don’t usually have cattle in the next apartment in a city. Energy for urban life needs to also factor in trucking EVERYTHING into the city plus the load taken up by the rural dwellers to create/grow/raise that which is consumed in the cities.”
Are you suggesting that all city dwellers return to the countryside and grow their own food? Also, who will then produce all the things farmers and rural people need?

Steve C
March 29, 2011 9:18 am

Not for nothing do we call ’em the “British Brainwashing Corporation”.

March 29, 2011 9:18 am

Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
March 29, 2011 at 7:20 am
Washington is contemplating budget cuts. Cutting off all funding to the UN should be high on the list.

Actually, given the current regime, I would think they would cut off funding for Cities instead! Kill 2 birds and all. But then hypocrite is not an unfriendly term when talking about this administration.

Under their nose. Up my nose.
March 29, 2011 9:28 am

Those bleedin’ alarmists just don’t get it, do they. The so-called global warming they are all jumping up and down about, tearing their hair out about, ranting and raving about, and ostracising the rest of us about, is nothing more than LOCAL warming.
Yet, here we have an article that clearly states the importance of UHI – i.e., local warming – but they just don’t see it. It’s right under their noses! Just what is it going to take to make them wake up and see the truth.

March 29, 2011 9:31 am

There is a cute little duplicity in the first paragraph about cities being responsible for 70% of emissions. They slyly forgot to specify which emissions. Sure, majority of the population is located in the cities, so they use more. However, per capita cities are quite modest due to denser population, shorter daily travel distances, greater use of public transportation and centralized deliveries. But it is not even half of the story. The cutest part is that they mean only very narrow part of emissions, the one people can be made feel guilty about: auto fuel and heating. Emissions that are generated, say, by agriculture and loss of carbon from soil (which total twice all the emissions originated from fossil fuel burning over the human history) are not even considered. Its much easier to bully a “sinful” timid city dweller than a “saintly” (and armed) farmer.

March 29, 2011 9:43 am

For me, urbanization is a result of the minority owning the majority (all or most) of the land (as opposed to: the USA belongs to the people of the USA). Once, citizens are “forced” to urbanize because of ownership, the “economies to scale” become very inbalanced because of the first observation. And the above observations result, because of the again . . . . who is it that says: “Wait for it!”

March 29, 2011 9:54 am

“Its much easier to bully a “sinful” timid city dweller than a “saintly” (and armed) farmer.”
This is brilliant. Can I use this?

March 29, 2011 9:57 am

I think the study is global and refers to all cities. In 3rd world and developing countries the population tends to move toward population centers to at the energy available. Think of India, Indonesia and Pakistan with large bustling cities but mostly undeveloped countryside. In those places if you live in the country then you have very little access to energy. In western type countries the difference is probably the other way around as far as energy usage goes. And no it doesn’t take much energy to bring food into cities. European cities have very well developed public transportation and in fact the transportation goes between the cities also so individual energy use is less.
Anyway that’s my 2 cents.
Barry Strayer

Peter Dunford
March 29, 2011 10:28 am

UHI wouldnt be such a problem if there weren’t so many GHCN temperature records contaminated by it. Anyway. Phil Jones has proved it’s negligable.

March 29, 2011 10:36 am

“The assessment by UN-Habitat said that the world’s cities were responsible for about 70% of emissions yet only occupied 2% of the planet’s land cover.”
Brilliant! Aren’t cities the places where most people live? Isn’t it people who cause the emissions? (I do know that cows and sheep fart – and we in NZ are told that they are our main Carbon Emissions problem for which we will soon be taxed heavily) but otherwise it is essentially people who are the problem.
So when it’s all boiled down, isn’t this really an attack on people. Anthony is right the data being measured is temperature recorded in UHIs – talk about a circular argument – sheesh!

Vince Causey
March 29, 2011 10:41 am

I believe the best outcome for mother Gaia, is to remove the vast hordes of poor humans from their present destructive lifestyles scavenging for a living among the worlds wilderness. The best outcome is to have the entire human population concentrated in cities. The demand on the rest of the world would then be limited to existing agricultural belts and resource mining. Gaia is screaming to make it so. Are these people really so stupid, so fixated on the single issue of co2 emissions that they cannot see this simple truth?

March 29, 2011 10:56 am

Wow, the greens just can’t be pleased. I remember reading just a couple years ago how an environmental group wanted individual home ownership eliminated & people packed into cities with densities greater than that of Hong Kong so as to leave pristine areas as how nature intended it. Now they don’t want this anymore? But here’s a question. If cities occupy 2% of the landmass, but contribute 70% to climate change what is the population differential? Does more then 70% of the population live in the city? I think, yes. Did they factor that minute likelihood in this silly analysis? I think, no. Not only will nothing please them they are beyond being stupid.

March 29, 2011 11:02 am

Paul says:
March 29, 2011 at 7:22 am
2% sounds like a hell of alot of landmass. Are there any geographers out there who can verify this figure?
3% of Earth’s landmass is now urbanized

Josh Grella
March 29, 2011 11:30 am

Lilacwine says:
March 29, 2011 at 8:55 am
The UHI occurs mainly because of all the cement and asphalt and other things that absorb heat and retain it fairly well and for longer than the surrounding suburban and especially rural areas. There are additinoal factors, too, but that’s the nutshell version. So, yes, even if the temp of a large geographic area was on average about 30 below, the urban area would probably be somewhere closer to negative 25 (depending on the exact WEATHER conditions of course).

Billy Liar
March 29, 2011 11:32 am

Byz says:
March 29, 2011 at 8:05 am
Err just thought I’d point out that you don’t need “BBQ summer” to get heat waves in the London tube.
The Met Office definition of a “BBQ summer” is a cold one where it pees with rain all the time. /sarc

March 29, 2011 11:41 am

I am sure someone else earlier in the thread has pointed out that many of the worlds temperature records-which used to be in cool fields-now reside in those very same cities that have engulfed and artifically warmed them.
The effects of UHI have been well known for 2000 years and measures taken to mitigate it. Here are two examples of historic UHI;
Pliny the Elder 23-79 AD noted that Beech trees formerly grew within the precincts of
Rome but it was now too hot for them (and for Chestnut trees)
This was with reference to a comment by Theophrastus-371-287BC who reported the
presence of Beech trees in Rome. The growing warmth of the Roman optimum
combined with the heat engendered by the greatest city of its age caused the Roman
poet Horace, 65BC to 8 BC in Epistles I.7 1-7, to plead health reasons for his
prolonged vacation on an extended trip to the country to avoid the heat.
That it was now too hot for Beech trees in Rome compared to several hundred years
earlier ties in very closely to the entreaties made by citizens of Nero (born AD 37)
following the great fire of AD 64, as noted by Matthias Ruth;
‘The relationship between the built environment and urban climate has been observed
for centuries. Dating back to ancient Rome it was widely noted that ‘parts of the city
became hotter (than others) during the summer…after the streets had been widened
during the reign of Emperor Nero.’ To address this problem it was recommended that
streets be ‘made narrow with houses high for shade.’
The ways the ancients devised to keep cool were many and varied.
“Even normal Greeks and Roman bought snow and ice imported on donkey trains.
Few could afford private ice houses. Most urban residents bought it at snow shops. In
Rome deep pits were filled with snow and covered with straw. Water melted and ran
through forming a bottom layer of ice that sold at a premium. Snow could be more
expensive than wine.”
In Rome, many urban women sported parasols or what they called umbracula- light
cloth stretched over a wooden frame in order to provide shade.
In more modern times the observations of Dr von Hann concerning UHI in US cities
have their corollary 130 years earlier in a book by William B. Meyer entitled
“Americans and Their Weather” (ISBN 0 19 513182 7) when the Urban Heat Island
Effect was recognized in the American colonial era. Page 29 says in part –
“…. It was a Charleston physician, Dr. Lionel Chalmers, who in 1776 offered the
fullest early explanation of the phenomenon now known as the urban heat
island: the tendency for temperatures to be higher in cities than in the
surrounding countryside. [52] The presumed direct connection between heat and
ill-health made it especially troubling, given the already high summer
temperatures. Jefferson as president urged his territorial governors in laying out
or extending towns to reserve alternating squares of a grid pattern for trees and
open space. Europeans, living under cloudy skies, could “build their town in a
solid block with impunity,” he judged, “but here a constant sun produces too
great an accumulation of heat to permit that.” The extremes of the American
summer demanded a greater spread of “turf and trees.” But the inconvenience
of dispersing settlement and the seeming waste of building lots told too heavily
against the plan. It was not employed in the extension of New Orleans; in the one
southern case where it was tried, the new capitol city of Jackson, Mississippi, it
was quickly eroded, and the reserved lots turned to more productive uses.”
Other studies that predate Dr von Hann by 80 years also recognised the warming
effects of urbanisation, when Howard made some calculations observing that the
urban area appeared to be warmer during the night than the surrounding countryside.
He presented figures in a journal called ‘The Climate of London’ (1820), showing the
results of a nine-year comparison that he made between temperature readings taken in London and those in the surrounding countryside, he commented:
“Night is 3.70° (Fahrenheit) warmer and day 0.34° cooler in the city than in the
He believed this observed difference to be caused by the burning of fuel in the city.

March 29, 2011 11:46 am

Just a few weeks ago some muckity muck was writting about how we were all going to have to move to the city in order to cut our carbon footprints. Now they are telling us that people who live in the city use more energy.
THese guys just can’t make up their minds.

March 29, 2011 11:57 am

THANKS KATE ! As you Brits says, “good job, well done!”…in an RP accent, naturally. I copied and saved your post.
Years ago I took on our CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, and that was one red tape tangle out of hell, let me tell’ya. And the Beeb is way bigger.

March 29, 2011 12:15 pm

I used to get BBC World as one of my subscribed cable channels. I eventually got tired of their biased reporting and removed them from my channel lineup. No more money from me.

March 29, 2011 12:35 pm

In other shock news, a recent study has shown that the world’s industrialised nations contain approximately 100% of the world’s industry, providing a strong correlation with other studies that confirm the world’s populated regions contain approximately 100% of the world’s population. The most robust models available indicate that within a decade these regions could be responsible for 272% of global emissions, unless steps are taken to reduce economic activity to optimal levels (ie none). Bah.

March 29, 2011 2:38 pm

What nonsense. But no surprise coming from the AGW alarmists and the BBC. Surely the best way to reduce the human footprint on the planet is to all live in skyscrapers.

David S
March 29, 2011 2:42 pm

They have clearly identified the enemies of Gaia: too many people, and unacceptable levels of economic growth. The solution is clear: cull billions of people, and the problem of excessive growth will resolve itself. There is no other way of satisfying their needs. I feel a reductio ad Hitlerum moment coming on.

March 29, 2011 3:08 pm

Hi Josh Grella, thanks for your answer. I understand the concept of UHI but was wondering about how it applied in a colder climate than I live in where it rarely goes below freezing for more than a few hours at a time. When friends ask me why I don’t believe in Climate Change (or whatever it’s called today) I like to have data and knowledge to argue my case rather than blind faith. Cheers, Lilacwine.

March 29, 2011 4:25 pm

Aren’t these the same people arguing in the UK that those who live in rural areas should pay a special tax, because their lifestyle isn’t as efficient as living in the city, and provides them with ‘unfair’ quality of living benefits?
You just can’t win with these people.

March 29, 2011 4:51 pm

We Americans use about 70% of our water in the bathroom. That is WAY too much. We need to look for ways to use more water in other rooms. To bring that percentage down, I suggest taking a hose to our sofas and large screen T.V.s.

March 29, 2011 6:43 pm

“Cities ignore climate change at their peril”
This sounds like a threat from the 10:10 people.
“Urban areas are set to become the battleground in the global effort to curb climate change”
I wonder if they’ve considered a new film telling urban dwellers to get with the program or we’ll be forced to try nuclear winter on your cities. …. No Pressure.

March 29, 2011 8:26 pm

The astroturfing on the local level TomRude references is UN Agenda 21 Communitarianism in action. Like the integration of Europe under the EU, and North America under NAFTA and the North American Union, the agenda is implemented gradually by stealth and anyone questioning it is called a loon or conspiracy theorist. Then once it’s essentially in place they simply announce the program, as if everything’s normal.
Communitarianism means balancing individual rights against the perceived welfare of the greater whole. Under this approach, all resources belong to the collective and unelected czars and apparatchiks decide the price of everything – and indeed, who will have and have not.
Back to the Beeb, last night I watched the first episode of Human Earth, a BBC-produced documentary. As I watched I kept wondering when it would invoke the “climate change” and “rising sea level” scaremongering. Sure enough, it categoricaly stated that sea levels are rising at unprecedented levels, and concluded with the narrator wondering aloud how humans will cope as we “change the climate and environment.” Disgusting propaganda placement in an otherwise beautifully produced film.

Werner Brozek
March 29, 2011 9:06 pm

“Lilacwine says:
March 29, 2011 at 8:55 am
Is there a temperature below which UHI has no effect?”
To add to what Josh Grella says:
March 29, 2011 at 11:30 am
Let us assume that all buildings in a city are kept at 72 F. The greater the difference in temperature between 72 F and the outside temperature, the greater the UHI effect. When it is colder outside, houses warm the air more. When it is warmer outside, then air conditioners will make the city still warmer than without air conditioners. Then human beings emit heat. The greater the difference between 98.6 F and the outside temperature, the more human beings affect the UHI. Of course we bundle up when it gets cold so we lose less heat. But still, unless the temperature is above our body temperature, we emit some heat into the surroundings. Then there are vehicles. The running engines are much warmer than any air temperature could be, so extra cars will always cause more heat. So I would say the UHI is always there, but it is minimized when the outside temperature is between 70 and 80 F. (I am sure much more can be added to this response.)

Ian B
March 30, 2011 2:48 am

As Werner details above, the effects of UHI would be magnified by temperature extremes. Buildings are not perfect insulators (indeed, far from it, and I can dig out the thermal images to prove it), so when they are being heated to well above the ambient temperature there will be a lot of heat lost from the buildings and to the surrounding atmosphere.
When hot, building materials reflect and re-radiate heat much more than vegetated areas (you can feel this effect just by standing close to a brick or concrete wall that has been exposed to direct sunlight). Also, AC works by dumping the extra heat out to the atmosphere.
So Werner is correct that the effect of urban heating through heat escape from buildings is at its minimum when the ambient temperature is in the comfortable range for people (I think his numbers are a tad high, since building interiors are a bit warmer than the surroundings, so the amount of heat lost from buildings is at a minumum at between about 15 and 20 deg C, about 65 to 75 deg F).
There will still be some effect because of reflected and re-radiated heat, but this effect increases with higher temperatures, amount of sunshine and during evenings where this short-term ‘stored’ energy is re-radiating into a cooling atmosphere.
Oh, and as for complaining to the BBC about their presentation of climate change science, forget it as they will make reference to IPCC data as the gospel (I made a complaint a few years ago about a report linking coastal erosion on the east coast of England to warming and sea level rise – anyone that knows the geology and geography of this area knows that erosion is simply a fact of life there and that any rate change with sea level rise and storm action is so trivial as to be lost in the noise).

March 30, 2011 3:34 am

Idiots. We dont live in urban areas because they require more water and energy, we live there because they provide more water, energy, and etc.
Abundant potable water and abundant energy are the major advantages of our urban lifestyles.
What this article actually reveals is the same old “kill all the humans!” Green-Eugenics-Primitives axis of evil that mankind has been fighting since our arrival on this planet.

March 30, 2011 6:25 am

Those of you who are familiar with the BBC’s far more USEFUL offering – ‘Fawlty Towers’ – might just be tempted to think that this report falls under the heading of Basil Fawlty’s ‘department of the bleedin’ obvious’….

March 30, 2011 12:33 pm

Thanks Werner and Ian for the extra information. Whilst I understood what UHI did to temperature readings, the effects in hot versus cold weather needed some clarification in my head. Thanks very much for clearing it up. 🙂

Werner Brozek
March 30, 2011 5:18 pm

“Lilacwine says:
March 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm
Thanks Werner”
You are welcome! For much more, see

Brian H
April 1, 2011 1:27 am

I wonder if randomengineer has contemplated the energy use and requirements of the same population dispersed over the countryside — and the consequent loss of arable land, besides. It is notoriously true that cities arise where the best farming was, and already take highly productive land out of the agri-picture. How does he think spreading, say, Tokyo’s 30 million onto Japan’s (extremely limited) farmland would work out?
I think random is becoming more jumbled as time goes on.

Brian H
April 1, 2011 1:30 am

Correction, I was thinking of Mexico city’s population. Here’s Tokyo (~13 million):

As of October 1, 2009, the population of Tokyo is estimated to be 12.989 million, or about 10% of Japan’s total population, and it has the largest population among all the 47 prefectures.
At 2,188 square kilometers, the area of Tokyo is 0.6% of the total area of Japan. With a population density of 5,937 persons per square kilometer, Tokyo is the most densely populated prefecture in Japan.

April 6, 2011 6:57 am

Is this more control-mentality stuff? Politicians think they can manipulate people by “planning” (for them) in buildings, even parks. Yet they usually make a mess.
(Ludwig von Mises explained that in his book “Planned Chaos”, with examples of how it leads to tyranny, including National Socialist Germany in the first half of the twentieth century.)

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