Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Munchable Soapbox: Urban Heat Islands

A quickie, since I'm running late for work! I wanted to introduce this segment I heard on NPR about the Urban Heat Island effect. Yes, cities are getting hotter, faster than their rural or suburban counterparts. Why, you ask? It has to do with evaporation. Plants release water as part of their "breathing" (take in carbon dioxide and light, and emit oxygen and water - called transpiration). To cool our bodies on a hot day we sweat, and then it evaporates. It's the same for the temperature of the surrounding environment. In cities, there is a lot of concrete, glass, and other non-living materials that don't release water, or even heat up in the sun (like pavement).

Ok, so why am I telling you all of this? An interesting piece on NPR discussed this very topic, and emphasized the role urban green spaces play in cooling the temperature. Enter the urban garden or community farm. Not only does it help increase food security in the city - for example the relationship between Common Good City Farm and the low-income population in a DC neighborhood - but it is also helping to keep the temperature down. While I realize it's already turning chilly, next time we have an unseasonably warm day, pop over to a nearby garden and feel the difference in temperature. Be green to be cool!

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