Here’s the story:
When heatwaves strike, it’s far more difficult to cope with stifling temperatures in built-up areas than it is out in the countryside. An ESA campaign has just been carried out to see if a spaceborne thermal infrared sensor could help policy makers and town planners reduce the number of casualties when temperatures soar.
High densely built-up areas trap the heat, especially at night, causing what is called Urban Heat Islands (UHI) in which city centres can be up to 10º C warmer than surrounding rural areas. Another consequence of UHIs is that energy consumption rises with the increased use of air conditioners and refrigeration appliances.
Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but I think I have some common sense. What is different about “urban heat islands” than the countryside? Let me see if I can illustrate this:
That would be the countryside.
Notice anything missing in Times Square?
Now, if you’re in my little town. You can be in a parking lot and it will be scorching hot right now. Today it’s supposed to get to 97 or so. It will feel a lot hotter than that. Guaranteed. However, the beauty of being here is that in seconds you can walk into a completely forested area. The temperature will drop at least 10 degrees. It will feel a lot cooler than that. Regardless of the calming and relaxing effect of being amongst the trees and fauna, there is a logical reason for this phenomena. Although extremely complicated, I’ll try to make it as simple as I can.
You’re standing in the shade. The direct sunlight is not hitting you.
The by-product of standing in the shade of vegetation is that said vegetation releases oxygen. Without going into a whole lot of science, your body functions much better when it’s burning oxygen than carbon monoxide. Trees and stuff consume that bad carbon monoxide and release, of all things, oxygen. So, your not exposed to the heat, and what heat you are exposed to, your better equipped to deal with.
Pretty amazing huh?
The article didn’t go into how much this ESA satellite cost to put together and launch and operate. But, as with any space venture, I can imagine it was in the millions of dollars. Wonder how many trees that would planted in those urban heat islands?
Maybe we need to quit sciencing stuff to death and just rely a little more on God-given common sense?
Plant some trees. Rooftops and sidewalks make great places for trees and stuff to grow. They look a lot prettier than tar and concrete. And, they just absolutely LOVE to eat smog. And when it gets really hot, sit under one.
I won’t even bother with the energy saving or ecological impact aspect of lowering the impact of urban warming. Somehow I just know the attitude that most likely will be given when telling places like Madrid and New York City they need to be more like rural towns.