It was many years ago that I first hypothesized that waste heat was contributing far more to Global Warming more than it gets credit for. The idea was brought back to me in a personal way, nearly three years ago, while driving on the hottest date on record in Los Angeles (Monday Sept. 27, 2010 - 113 F)
The digital thermometer in my car registered 118 F that day while driving in heavy traffic on Wilshire Blvd. After turning down an adjacent empty side street, I noticed the thermometer now indicated 106 F. I swung back onto Wilshire and the thermometer quickly climbed back up 117 F. The effect of driving in heavy slow moving traffic versus no traffic, seemed dramatic.
The most obvious cause I could think of was the heat from the motors of all the cars around me must be driving up the temperature. I could literally “see” the heat waves rising from the cars all around me. This led me back to something I had long postulated: The heat generated by all of the motors both large and small that we humans run incessantly here on earth. Factories, air conditioners, refrigerators, incandescent lights, power stations, vehicles, computers, virtually every thing electric, and much of our mechanical world generates waste heat. How could this waste heat not be a contributing factor to the steadily increasing temperature of our planet, I often wondered? Why wasn’t there more in the news about this?
Interestingly though, when I parked my car a few blocks away from Wilshire in my shaded driveway, the thermometer was now reading 119 F. In disbelief, I stayed in the car a few seconds after shutting down the motor, but the reading didn’t budge. I rechecked it about 30 minutes later at around 2:00PM, and it still said 119. I chalked it up to the heat from my motor, or perhaps the gauge was broken. The next day, I read in the paper about this being the hottest date on record in LA, at an official temp of 113 F. I also heard a report on the radio at the time that the thermometer at the downtown station getting ‘stuck’ at 113 F. Did this mean that my car thermometer had actually captured the true record temp at 119 degrees? I will never know. I sure wish I had thought to take a photo of my dashboard gauges that day…
This is the trouble with such amateur science, though. It too often leads to inconclusive results and incorrect assumptions. Was my car thermometer accurate? Was the increased temp I noticed in traffic due only to the cars? Or perhaps the reflected sun off the pavement and tall buildings surrounding me were contributing factors? Were the changes I noticed truly localized? What impact was this having on the climate as a whole?
The science that real scientists are doing now though, leaves me personally with little room for doubt… My amateur “hypothesis” was correct. Waste heat is a factor in global warming. To what degree remains to be seen, but I think waste heat is a much larger contributor to global climate disruption than is commonly and scientifically understood. And more importantly, what can we do about it? I have some pretty good ideas, how about you?...
And now, as an added bonus and at no extra charge to you, I bring you the latest dire news wondering about where all our ice is going: