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Column: Planting trees helps cities fight climate change

by Heather McMann of Groundwork Lawrence for Eagle Tribune

As climate change becomes an increasingly important issue, communities, individuals and governments are looking for solutions to minimize its effects.

One of the simplest and most holistic approaches to helping our cities prepare for a changing climate is not new technology but planting trees and developing the urban forest.

Cities are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially historically underserved communities such as Lawrence.

Lawrence already benefits from tree planting initiatives, but the current tree density is not enough to sustain this city in the coming decades.

More planting is necessary to ensure a sustainable future.

Urban heat islands, caused by heat absorption and radiation from asphalt and concrete in neighborhoods, can cause these places to be 20 degrees warmer than suburban areas. This necessitates an increase in energy consumption, as more fans and air conditioners are used to fight the heat.

Trees lessen the effects of heat islands by providing needed shade and keeping surrounding areas cool.

In Lawrence alone, the cooling effect of trees prevents 523,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released due to energy consumption per year. That’s the equivalent of commuting in a car from Lawrence to Boston every day for 27 years.


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