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Global Warming To Hinder Wi-Fi Signals, Claims UK Gov't 280

Posted by Soulskill
from the stock-up-on-tinfoil dept.
radioweather writes with news of a government report from the UK's Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which warns of global warming's harmful effect on Wi-Fi and other communication protocols. Quoting the Guardian: "Presenting the report, the secretary of state for the environment, Caroline Spelman, said that higher temperatures can reduce the range of wireless communications, rainstorms can impact the reliability of the signal, and drier summers and wetter winters may cause greater subsidence, damaging masts and underground cables. The threat posed by climate change to internet and telephone access is a rare example of when the developed world would be hit harder than developing countries, which are in general more at risk from increased floods, droughts and rising sea levels. 'If climate change threatens the quality of your signal, or you can't get it because of extreme fluctuations in temperature, then you will be disadvantaged, which is why we must address the question,' said Spelman, 'and just imagine in the height of an emergency if the communications system is down or adversely affected.'"
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Global Warming To Hinder Wi-Fi Signals, Claims UK Gov't

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  • by gavron (1300111) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:34PM (#36077072)

    The UK Government and it's insipid reports hinders WiFi.

    E

    • by mrphoton (1349555) on Monday May 09, 2011 @07:15PM (#36077418)
      no they are right, I just tested it out with the aid of my bath. My wi-fi router does not work under water.
    • by matrim99 (123693)
      With the higher temperatures causing more people to bathe and increasing rainfall causing more people to use bathtubs as boats, an economic and societal crisis looms within the bathtub manufacturing industry. "The current bathtub manufacturing capacity simply cannot provide enough new bathtubs to satisfy demand in 30 years", an industry insider stated. No solution is in sight.
      Back to you, Kate.
  • by rossdee (243626) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:36PM (#36077094)

    global warming will disrupt the economy, and people won't be able to afford internet or phone service

    • Inception (Score:4, Insightful)

      by alvinrod (889928) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:47PM (#36077188)
      Global warming will disrupt living conditions worldwide, and people won't be around to have an economy that won't be able to afford internet or phone service.
    • by msauve (701917)
      "global warming will disrupt the economy"

      I'm investing in temperature futures, you insensitive clod.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kpainter (901021) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:36PM (#36077098)
    These guys must have some really good drugs.
  • They really are getting desperate, aren't they?

    BTW, wasn't Britain supposed to get drier winters with no snow because of 'global warming', not wetter ones? When did that change?

    • by similar_name (1164087) on Monday May 09, 2011 @07:06PM (#36077334)

      BTW, wasn't Britain supposed to get drier winters with no snow because of 'global warming', not wetter ones? When did that change?

      citation [independent.co.uk] needed [newscientist.com]

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      That sort of stuff really depends upon how far into the warming cycle you are. You have to consider the intermediate period where average ocean temperatures are catching up to average atmosphere temperatures (the extra stormy period).

      Once things have relatively stabilised (barring summer and winter), then we will be able to asses the more long term (relative to human life) weather pattern.

      To cheer you up, there is still the major ice age, warm period cycle that has been occurring over the last couple o

  • or wifi..... what? wifi? What are they smoking to be this desperate?

    • It's very simple, and not at all alarmist.

      Signal propagation depends on temperature and humidity. It is possible to design a wireless network around a minimum number of antennas by taking the current climate into account. If you do so, and if the local climate warms, the optimum network may change, and you may have problems.

      The paragraph is not trying to scare people into "Saving the Climate to Save WiFi" It's trying to warn the people who employ network engineers to have the calculations rerun, so that wh

      • Isn't most Wi-Fi used inside climate controlled buildings? Perhaps this is an attempt to notify wardrivers to stay in the lanes closest to buildings...

        Also, the amount of signal degradation caused by passing through a wall is going to be so enormously larger than that caused by the atmosphere in any climatic conditions survivable by humans that I can't imagine that this would have any noticeable impact.

        I suppose that if you were trying to cover a large open area outdoors with no trees or structures with

        • From the report [defra.gov.uk]

          Climate Factor: Increase in average temperatures
          Potential Impact: Location / density of wireless masts may become sub-optimal since wireless transmission is dependent upon temperature (refractive index)
          Impact on quality of radio-frequency propagation if vegetation type changes in response to climate

          Towards the end, there's a discussion of how the wireless network on some Scottish rail lines was damaged by an Ice Storm-- which was of course, attributed to Climate Change. But the concerns over antenna density aren't specifically about 802.11.

      • by ichthus (72442)

        Signal propagation depends on temperature and humidity.

        Both of which may change (even drastically) on an hourly basis. Where I live, we have four distinct seasons, with temperatures possibly ranging between several degrees below zero C to a few degrees above 40. Hell, in on day we can have well over 15 degrees of variation. Humidity fluctuates as well.

        The point is, any wireless network where performance is based heavily on these wildly changing variables is a fragile, poorly-performing one. And thus

  • Never mind (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dmiller (581) <djm AT mindrot DOT org> on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:39PM (#36077118) Homepage
    Never mind the millions displaced by rising sea levels or changed rainfall patterns effecting their crops, we might lose a few bars of wifi reception!
    • Never mind the millions displaced by rising sea levels or changed rainfall patterns effecting their crops, we might lose a few bars of wifi reception!

      You had me at losing a few bars!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:39PM (#36077122)

    And so will corporate interests. Too bad we can't get anyone moderate to talk about this. Either we're all already dead, or everything is great. As long as those are the only two choices, nothing worthwhile will be accomplished. *sigh*

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Either we're all already dead, or everything is great. "

      The two are not mutually exclusive. Gaia will cleanse herself.
      8-P

      • by bryan1945 (301828) on Monday May 09, 2011 @08:14PM (#36077908) Journal

        That is an interesting statement. When we (the collective we) hear "We're all doomed," we assume if all humans die, well, everything just stops. How many global-level extinctions have there been, 4? If we are screwing up the biosphere, and we go kaput, seems like we deserve it. The earth won't really care that much. Bring on the crab people!

        • by Eivind (15695)

          IT seems hugely unlikely that global warming will cause extinction of humanity. But fairly likely that it'll cause widespread material damage and widespread human suffering.

          It's perfectly true that the earth don't care, it doesn't even "care" if we extinguish all life.

          But if -WE- care, about reducing suffering and maintaining a high standard of living, then it might be worth it to try to reduce the damage.

          But we're talking problems like flooding, and possibly famine following changed climates here - not ext

      • by ichthus (72442)

        Greentards will say anything

        Gaia will cleanse herself.

        heh.

    • Check out John Christy. He has several things to look for in an 'authority' who knows what they are talking about:

      A) He has proven expertise. A long history of studying climate, was the first to put together satellite temperature datasets, IPCC lead author, etc.
      B) He focuses on data. A lot of people will say you should trust them because of their expertise, or other irrelevant items. John Christy will talk for hours trying to help you understand the data, so you can understand it yourself. In this way he
    • by mug funky (910186)

      >Either we're all already dead, or everything is great

      how is that a dichotomy?

      we're already dead, and everything is great.

  • WiFi works in: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xMrFishx (1956084) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:41PM (#36077142)
    ...countries that are hotter (Southern Europe), Wetter (Hong Kong), Colder (Sweden), Dryer (Greece) and more legally obtuse (USA) than the UK. I think we'll be fine. FUD off.
    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      Don't confuse me with things like facts!

    • It's microwaves - because of the wavelength water reduces the signal whether it's heavy rain or 100% humidity at a high temperature. That little bit of extra loss means those pushing the limits don't get enough signal, but that's probably not a problem since if you set up outdoor wireless you plan to have enough for it to run in heavy rain anyway. If you are in a cold place and get a hot humid day there is still a lot less water in the air between antennas than if it was heavy rain.
      It's almost as if the a
    • by tibit (1762298)

      Unless we're talking about using WiFi for tower-to-cantenna style paths, WiFi is pretty much insensitive to absorption in air. To a point where I bet we could easily have 95% humidity at 10 atmospheres and there'd be no noticeable effect on propagation. In satellite communications, clear air (whether humid or not) absorbs a couple dB [wtec.org]. So whatever is done by air in a building can be neglected, even if it was an order of magnitude or two more intense. WiFi signals from antennas with low directionality (as is

  • by Dartz-IRL (1640117) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:45PM (#36077168)

    Subject says it all. I honestly can't comment further. The fail is strong with these morons.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      Indeed, this very near plumbs the depths at which Al Gore's dumb-assed absurdities dwell, but not quite.

  • by saikou (211301) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:47PM (#36077186) Homepage

    Sure, as soon as you get global warming effects in the form of floods or snow or drought in your apartment, your WiFi coverage will suffer tremendously :(
    Frankly, when the roof is missing, people tend not to get too upset about bad WiFi reception.

    For normal outside activities just use cell 3G/4G signal :)

  • Oh jeez. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:49PM (#36077210)

    Yes rain and snow attenuates radio waves. But not by a huge amount. The human race would likely go extinct from Heat stroke before anybody noticed any real decline in WiFi connectivity. This article smacks of "the sky is falling" fearmongering. Like this:

    "On March 20, 2000, The Independent, a British newspaper, reported that the Dr. David Viner of the UK's Climate Research Unit warning within a few years snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event." Indeed, Viner opined, "Children just aren't going to know what snow is." Similarly, David Parker, at the UK's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, said that eventually British children could have only "virtual" experience of snow via movies and the Internet.

    "The Union of Concerned Scientists opined confidently in 2004 scientists claim winters were becoming warmer and less snowy. In 2008, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. bemoaned that children would be robbed of the childhood joys of sledding and skiing in the DC area due to global warming. A year later, the area set a new seasonal snowfall record with 5 to 6 feet of snow and sleds and skis were the only way to get around." http://www.nipccreport.org/articles/2011/apr/13apr2011a3.html [nipccreport.org]

    If the models can not predict snowfall, how can they be counted-upon to predict anything else in future weather?

    • snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event."

      That's already true, judging by the Doctor Who Christmas episodes. It's either ashes from the Sycorax space ship, or ballast from the Capricorn Cruiseliner Titanic, or artificially created by the TARDIS.
    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      If you think climate models are even attempting to predict snowfall then you have no idea what they do.

      ... said that eventually British children could have only "virtual" experience of snow via movies and the Internet.

      Note he said "eventually" which is pretty open ended. It could mean 100 years from now. Same thing applies to the DC comment. That's the problem with talking about future effects of global warming. Everyone wants to interpret it as something that happens in the next 5 or 10 years instead of something that changes over several/many decades.

      One thing is for sure, the approximately 1 degree Fahrenheit in

  • I know! I know! Y2K, I mean, global warming will cause airplanes to fall from the sky, pacemakers to fail, and toasters to become sentient and kill us all!!!1!
  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:52PM (#36077230) Journal
    Wifi was working just great in Tuscaloosa, AL until the tornadoes hit. At that point, they had bigger problems. It's still working fine in NE Georgia where I live, when 100F+ temperatures are the norm in the summer. In fact, whenever our signal degraded, it was because a squirrel had chewed through an outside line, not because it was too hot or humid. I think TFA is missing the elephant in the room here.
    • by fyngyrz (762201)


      I think TFA is missing the elephant in the room here.

      Elephants? Global warming is bringing elephants?

      No wifi signal on earth can get through an elephant.

      Now I see the problem.

    • until the tornadoes hit

      From TFA:

      just imagine in the height of an emergency if the communications system is down or adversely affected

      I read that as meaning that the UK is not equipped to handle weather that is more like monsoons than a persistent drizzle.

      Communications is especially important during disasters, as it helps people assess damage and coordinate damage response.

      But...

      When a tornado hits, I expect that mobile phone towers with UPS and backup power would be more stable than wired communications. And also, as xMrFishx pointed out:

      WiFi works in:
      ...countries that are hotter (Southern Europe), Wetter (Hong Kong), Colder (Sweden), Dryer (Greece) and more legally obtuse (USA) than the UK. I think we'll be fine. FUD off.

  • ...that houses with television antennas are at greater risk of lightning strikes. This is a rare example of when the developed world would be hit harder than developing countries. If climate change threatens the quality of your television signal, then you will be disadvantaged, which is why we must address the question.
    • Developing countries tend to rely on pure cell phone service. Developed countries have lots of legacy POTS equipment. So when signal degrades, the developing countries will be without communications, but the developed countries will still have some comm lines open.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:56PM (#36077272)

    If this is the best "DOOM!" Climate Change story the legacy media can whip up today maybe we are near the end of the scare.

    Then we who are sane can set about purging the defilers from the temples of Science! and setting it to rights.

    Climate Change can't possibly be science, it fails one of the most basic tenets in that it isn't falsifiable. Try it if you doubt, ask a True Believer masquarading as a scientist what test could falsify their theory. There isn't one. IT gets warmer, Global Warming. Cooler? Climate Change. Drier? Wetter? More ice? Less ice? More clouds? Less clouds? And so on. All data lead the Warmist to the exact same conclusions and more importantly the exact same policy prescriptions. And of course a real scientist wouldn't dare propose policy on such a complex question in the knowledge of his ignorance of too many other fields.

    • by kesuki (321456)

      there is always a scare. there is always an enemy. there is always something to fix.

      when all three of those rules fail then something bad really did happen.

      allah the word means 'everyone'

      i don't want to spoil the ending for you, but the truth is really out there. and i was able to handle it. it is a little sad but oh well.

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday May 09, 2011 @08:40PM (#36078086) Journal

      GW would be easily falsified by a statistically significant (i.e. long) period of temperatures going down that could not be explained by some other clearly observing and temporary phenomenon. So far we haven't seen such a thing.

    • by spicate (667270)
      You aren't sane, you are ignorant. Climate is a complex system and it's difficult to predict on a local level exactly how greenhouse gas emissions will affect it. It will likely get warmer in most places, most of the time, but that doesn't mean there might not be geographic and seasonal variations. Overall, however, the warming trend is clear and rapid. The increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere is clear and rapid. The greenhouse effect is a well-theorized and empirically-support
    • by Arlet (29997)

      Try it if you doubt, ask a True Believer masquarading as a scientist what test could falsify their theory.

      Simple, a long term global temperature trend that doesn't go up despite predictions would falsify the theory.

      But it doesn't look like there's much chance of that:
      http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/Temperature/dTs_60+132mons.gif [columbia.edu]

  • by geekpowa (916089) on Monday May 09, 2011 @07:00PM (#36077304)

    Not least it's ability to make seemingly educated adults believe absurd things, like this article or that the end of civilisation as we know will occur in their life time. (Who else believed that the end of days was going to occur within the span of their natural life?).

    If only there was a way we could harness this awesome power... and use it to fuel our civilisation. Go beyond fossil fuel with global warming power. There is no problem it can't create.

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      "Not least it's ability to make seemingly educated adults believe absurd things..."

      Ahem. Scientology?
      (Though does that include educated adults?)

    • The answer is "Religious Fanatics." Your question was, "Who else believed that the end of days was going to occur within the span of their natural life?"

      The Cult of Global Warming is to the early part of the 21st Century as The Church was to the Middle Ages. Zealots seeking converts, indulgences available for the right price, End Times forecast less than a generation away unless the sinners repent, a high priesthood -- the Old Time Religion's got nothing on this new one.

  • Global Dimming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drew M. (5831) on Monday May 09, 2011 @07:01PM (#36077312) Homepage

    If we're so worried about global warming just counteract it by increasing global dimming:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_dimming [wikipedia.org]

  • by sribe (304414) on Monday May 09, 2011 @07:09PM (#36077358)

    Well, if hot air really can interfere with WiFi, perhaps shutting these guys up would be a first good step.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday May 09, 2011 @07:15PM (#36077408) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like someone bought the "Global Warming" excuse from their local IT department! *tears a page off the excuse calendar*
    • by bane2571 (1024309)
      on the plus side, you now have a "reputable" article to send doubters to when you use that excuse.
  • by scorp1us (235526) on Monday May 09, 2011 @07:17PM (#36077430) Journal

    So Global Warming is supposed to take place over centuries.
    The operational lifetime of WiFi equipment is 10 years at best. (Anyone still using just 802.11b?) We wouldn't develop new standards and better equipment to deal with the environment?

  • It wasn't too long ago that we were warned how much the Internet electron-pushing was contributing to global warming [spiegel.de].

    Now, we hear that global warming is inhibiting our ability to download our Internet pr0n?

    Sounds to me like a self-regulating system with a negative feedback loop.
  • by KhabaLox (1906148) on Monday May 09, 2011 @07:40PM (#36077650)

    Luckily I live in the US where the science isn't settled on Global Warming.

  • Wifi causes cancer and allergies, but Global Warming will make it more tolerable? Go Global Warming!
  • While it sounds ridiculous on the face of it, they have a point, especially in respect of cell towers and longer-range Wifi, or even wired. For example, after very heavy and prolonged rain, our own ADSL connection deteriorates because the underground cable between our house and the street connection (which is rather long) gets waterlogged. It's a definitely noticeable effect.
  • by jc42 (318812) on Monday May 09, 2011 @09:48PM (#36078456) Homepage Journal

    just imagine in the height of an emergency if the communications system is down or adversely affected.

    Um, it's not at all difficult to imagine this, especially if you've ever been involved in disaster relief. Until very recently, the communication systems were one of the first things to fail during most disasters of any sort. Wires are fragile things when faced with the actions of Ma Nature or a military force. This is why, back when (D)ARPA started the work that led to the Internet, almost all the diagrams showed a wireless comm system. It doesn't work too well to connect ships or jet fighters via cables. And even for ground installations, cutting the wires is the first thing that any enemy will do. The commercial world has dragged their feet tremendously, blocking the development of a real, universal wireless system at every stage. Our current cell-phone system is crippled by the lockings and licensing that makes it refuse to do most things we'd like it to do. The wi-fi system is mostly locked down by a hokey "security" system that doesn't much interfere with military decoding, but does prevent most civilians from using the system in over 99% of the US.

    And we've just barely made a dent in this problem. It's possible to have trucks (or boats) full of generators and wireless comm gear at the scene in a short time. But this usually takes much longer than it should, due to poor planning, plus active interference from the authorities on the scene.

    Our comm system is barely functional in small-scale emergencies much larger than an auto accident. In real disasters, such as Katrina, the comm system simply collapses and takes weeks to come back online.

    There's also the example that would be funny if it weren't for all the deaths involved: The collapse in New York of the World Trade Center nearly a decade ago also crippled Manhattan's communication system. The idiots who built the system's infrastructure (mostly the phone company) had run most of the cables for the southern half of the island under the WTC. And they hadn't built redundancy, so there was usually only one path between two specific points. The ARPA people back in the 1960s would have been apalled. People in 2001 who'd been working on the Internet were apalled. There was a lot of discussion of this in any number of comm forums. Reports are that the situation is nearly as bad today. The comm companies see no need to waste money on redundancy (and in fact over-subscribe most of their capacity when they can). And the government agencies are controlled by people who don't believe in "government regulation".

    It's interesting to contemplate the idea that someone actually thought we had a comm system that works during major emergency or disaster situations. I wonder who wrote that line, and what their experience in emergency work is.

  • What's that supposed to be about? Reduced maximum output wattage of power amplifying semiconductors at higher ambient temperatures?

    There are, like, solutions for that.

    Bigger heatsinks, more efficient designs that dissipate less waste heat, liquid cooling ...

  • After hearing endless warnings about species extinction, coastal flooding, and a apocalyptic weather, I am finally relieved to hear about something that effects me. Oh wait, my connection is twisted pair, not WiFi. Darn!
  • As we get more and more use out of wireless computing and more and more sensors ,devices and useful software become more and more common every little glitch in the wi-fi environment will cause greater and more expensive losses.Really we are only at the entrance to a world of complex electronic devices and communications. Trying to guess at what inconvenience or losses might occur from weather shifting is beyond our ability now. What we do know is climates like the Amazon area in Brazil can make it re

  • So is GPS signal reception also affected by higher temperatures?

    I noticed when driving across Spain in the middle of August that my in-car TomTom lost GPS for some quite long periods of time (20 minutes plus) especially near Madrid where I think the temperature was highest.

    I've since done the same trip with the same TomTom in the same car in October and April but did not experience any reception outages. Obviously, the temperature was much lower in Spain in October and April than in was in August.

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