According to a today published study from Texas Trees Foundation, Dallas County currently occupies the second position of the most rapidly warming US cities. The fastest heating city is Phoenix, Arizona. A sad record but a welcome opportunity to point out a widespread problem: Urban heat.
101°F as Average Temperature in Some Areas in Dallas for Five Months
The 2017 Dallas Urban Heat Island Study provides results of a year-long investigation of air temperature impacts at the district level. The resulting figures are alarming. Five full months, the average temperature in some areas in Dallas is 101°F – the lowest still 80°F. Allegedly, high temperatures in US cities cause more deaths every year than all other natural disasters combined.
“Heat-related deaths peaked at 52 in 2011 in Dallas County”
The study states, “Cities do not cause heat waves – they amplify them. Human activities on climate at the city/regional scale, accounting for both land surface changes and emissions of greenhouses gases, may be twice as great as the impacts of greenhouse gases alone.”
Especially Most Rapidly Warming US Cities Should Fight the Plague of Urban Heat
Apart from any rankings, it is not pointless to call attention to the harmful consequences of the urban heat island effect. Especially very densely populated cities with very high land prices tend to get more compact in the center. For personal economic reasons alone, an investor prefers to use every square meter to build high-rises with expensive offices instead of a green front yard. The city administration can combat de-greening with, for example, public green spaces – as in the case of the city-owned Central Park in New York.
Several Options Are Available to Reduce Urban Heat
The fight against urban sprawl, which is meaningful for different reasons, can in certain respects be a further negative impact on the inner city if it results in denser centers and the further sealing of green surfaces. Green space, in whatever form, improves the quality of life in inner cities as it reduces the risk of the urban heat island effect. Consequently, the risk of urban sprawl can be reduced as people are less willing to move to the surrounding suburbs. If there is only limited space for large-scale parks in the city, at least green roof legislations as in San Francisco or reflecting material surfaces should be considered more closely as possible measures. Liuzhou Forest City in China, for example, is taking an unusual step to combat harmful urban climate without sacrificing a compact development by planting trees and bushes on nearly each floor. The city literally consists of green buildings. In the end, there are even more than these three options to cool down the most rapidly warming US cities.
Childhood Asthma Rates at All-Time High in Dallas
Texas Trees’ chief executive officer, Janette Monear, says: “Our foundation is focused on making spaces cooler, greener and cleaner, and data has long affirmed that trees are vital to achieve this laudable and critical goal. The study we have released today is a wake-up call for all of us who call Dallas and North Texas home: We must act now to mitigate the urban heat island effect for the sake of our health, the economy and viability of our community. North Texas is seeing unprecedented growth, and with growth comes new buildings, roads and parking lots. It’s imperative that we come together to balance the grey with the green to ensure North Texas is a desirable place to live and work.”
“With a dual perspective from my seat as Chairman of the Board for Children’s Health System of Texas, and as the leader of a Fortune 500 company headquartered in North Texas, the economic impact of the rising temperatures in Dallas has never been more at risk. We know from our partnership with Texas Trees Foundation and data from the Urban Heat Island study that health is directly impacted when temperatures increase and air quality declines. Childhood asthma rates are at an all-time high, with nearly 10 percent of all Dallas children suffering from asthma. We care about the health and well-being of our associates, which is why Alliance Data funded this study and why we’re committed to standing with Texas Trees Foundation to make a difference.” points out Ed Heffernan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alliance Data.
The study was conducted by Georgia Institute of Technology, School of City and author of ‘The City and the Coming Climate’.