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To Protect Vulnerable Populations, Plant More Trees

Nature Conservancy: “…the urban heat island effect—caused by sparse vegetation and heat-absorbing surfaces like asphalt—can result in temperatures as much as 12°C higher than in less-developed areas nearby. While the heat island effect will remain consistent as the climate changes, the additive challenges of higher temperatures and paved cities will make many neighborhoods less livable..,And for certain neighborhoods within cities, the situation is even worse. The urban heat islands are most prevalent in lower income neighborhoods, where residents are also less likely to have air conditioning or easy access to public cooling centers. In our fast-heating cities, climate change is threatening those who are already most vulnerable…Trees and other vegetation naturally cool the air around them by shading surfaces and releasing water vapor. And while the effects are local—most of the improvement is within 100 meters—they can still be meaningful, reducing temperatures by up to 2°C. The Nature Conservancy has carried out a study of 245 cities around the world that stand to benefit from tree-planting initiatives, assessing their efficiency and return on investment. Compared to other ways to cool outdoor air temperatures, such as white roofs, trees deliver similar benefits per dollar spent. Urban trees can also reduce fine particulate matter air pollution, a problem that contributes to 5 percent of all deaths worldwide each year…”

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