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RURAL AREAS KEEP COOL WHILE WARMING HITS CITIES

SHARE RURAL AREAS KEEP COOL WHILE WARMING HITS CITIES

Global warming may not be such a big deal in small towns. At least that's true in tiny Hazelton in southern Idaho.

A U.S. Agriculture Department physicist has collected data on average annual temperatures in rural areas nationwide. Sherwood Idso says between 1920 and 1984, Hazelton's average summer temperature dropped 4 degrees Fahrenheit.But for this farming and ranching community 25 miles east of Twin Falls, that's not an aberration.

At 961 other rural weather stations nationwide, temperatures have dropped an average of one-third degree in the past 70 years.

So what's going on?

Idso says scientists may be getting fooled by data from the cities.

As an area's population increases, Idso says, so does its temperature. Buildings, pavement, automobiles, furnaces and factories all give off more heat than farmland, prairie or forest. Such urban heat islands can be as much as 9 degrees warmer than their surrounding.

By omitting weather stations located in rapidly growing areas, Idso believes his study gives a more accurate picture of how temperatures have performed during the last century.

"Our study, plus a half dozen others, indicates that we have not yet begun to feel global warming due to the greenhouse effect," Idso says.