2004-12-20

Britannica is rubbish...

Post title a bit over provocative but this site is for me to have fun after all...

There is a bit of an ongoing debate about the relative virtues of wikipedia and "traditional" encyclopaedias like britannica (soufron; Angela). So I thought I'd look a bit at the bits I know, which is climate change related. This is a controversial topic and hard to keep wiki on the straight and narrow (see previous post). I don't have a britannica subscription so I'm only writing about the online bits of it. Britannica would lose hopelessly on comprehensiveness if judged only from the bits it lets you see online, so I'll be fair and only look at accuracy and existence.

Err, given that I contribute to wiki and so on, you'll understand that I'm somewhat biased, but I've tried to be fair. Read for yourself...

Greenhouse effect: Britannica makes the classic error - asserting that the GH effect is analogous to the glass in a greenhouse. Wiki gets it correct, and even provides a link to a paper from 1909 proving this (I know all this because I put it in myself...).

Global warming: Britannica concentrates on the future and (at least in the snippet) ignores the current temperature rise, which I consider odd. Wiki does both.

Climate change: Britannica seems to subsume this within "environment" which is odd. The wiki page has a nice intro, and then a discussionof various forcing factors, which I think is better.

IPCC: Britannica doesn't seem to have an article on this. Wiki has a useful article.

Kyoto protocol: Britannica seems to file this within environment. Wiki has a good article on this. Apart from actually being available in full, there is no clear distinction.

Score: 2-0 to wiki. For the others, it was impossible to judge without the full Britannica article.

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