From the Natural Resources Defense Council
As temperatures recently soared to record highs in the US’s Pacific Northwest, the question of how to deal with a world that’s getting hotter is becoming more pressing. Extreme heat is of particular concern in urban areas because of the density of buildings and roads, which absorb solar radiation and re-emit heat through the urban heat island (UHI) effect. These heat islands can experience daytime temperatures up to 4˚C warmer than rural areas and people living in such areas may be at increased risk of heat-related morbidity and mortality during extreme heat, particularly for vulnerable populations.
Urgent need for cheap climate adaptation
Local solutions are urgently needed to tackle the rising temperatures that put people at risk. Adaptive land cover techniques can act as low-cost measures that help communities address many associated climate and health risks. Two well-documented, low-cost strategies are urban greening, which increases the quantity and quality of green spaces in cities, and cool roofs, which improve the ability of roofs to reflect incoming solar radiation rather than retain heat.
Although these adaptive land cover strategies have been implemented around the world for years, they are the subject of increasing scientific research for their benefits to environmental conditions (including local temperatures and air quality), human health (including potential reduction of heat-related diseases) and reduced energy demand for cooling. in buildings. Over the past six months, our research team has conducted an extensive literature review to explore the environmental, health and economic benefits of adaptive land cover interventions, particularly targeting India, a country highly vulnerable to climate change. We recently presented highlights of our findings at a session at the 17th International Conference on Urban Health.