We have yet another breathless story of the Horror of Global Warming: it might cut the range of wifi signals! At least according to British bureaucrats, who suggest (of course) that they be given a few billion pounds to work out the details and perhaps ameliorate the problem.

Rubbish, on several levels. Communications engineers have a lot of problems, but heat isn’t one of the show-stoppers. In electronics in general, the superstars are the ones who can take a half-inch square of stuff thinner than a fingernail, and write on it what would be, if it was characters, the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad-Gita, with room left for personal notes; but the heroes are the ones who can wrap that scrap in black plastic and feed it enough power to run a floodlight without having it burn to a crisp. Heat is a normal hazard, and there are lots of ways to overcome it, or even make it work for you.

If you want to strike fear into the hearts of communications engineers, show them this:

A Backhoe at Work

Fear! Danger! It's Coming to Get You! (or at least your cable)

Yes, my friends, warmening may reduce the range of your wifi, at least ’til the engineers can pump a little more power into it and improve the processing, but “backhoe fade” can cut whole countries off the Internet. Cable people don’t wake in the night from dreams of zombies. They hear, off in the middle distance, the sound of a big Diesel overlaid with voices: Shit, Leroy, just dig the damn hole. That there pipe’s gotta be down there somewhere. (Or the equivalent in any of the tongues where Diggus Redneckus finds favorable habitat, which nowadays is anywhere on Earth.) AAAAAAAAARGH! There, there, dear, you just had a bad dream. I’ll bring you something to help you sleep. — Better make it a Nembutal, honey.

Ms. Spelman of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) assures us that for a mere £1bn. or so, she and her dedicated fellows can find ways to ameliorate the problem. There have been a spate of these announcements over the past few years, all of them reporting in suitably horrified tones that some newly-discovered effect of TMPB[1] will kill us all unless we give them (the people making the report) lots and lots of money and the power to order people around.They seem to believe it will have the desired (by them) effect.

Sorry, Caroline. The difficulty is this: Even if we took your solemn pronouncements at face value, you are among the last people we would trust to solve the problem. There are others less qualified — the denizens of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro come to mind — but you aren’t even on the first page of the Google search. Or the hundredth, for that matter. You belong firmly with the Millenialists, crouched around a cross on a windy hilltop waiting for the End of the World, and only their hypnotized Believers take those nutcases seriously enough to put them in charge.


[1]Too Many People Breathing, a.k.a. “carbon dioxide”

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