This week was a very intense one, because it was HOT. As in above 90 degrees Farenheit pretty much every day. We really noticed the effects of this in how it impacted our programming--we couldn't do very much of it in an effort to stay out of the heat. Coincidentally, some of the programming that we were able to do was about heat resiliency, so this combined with the weather really got me thinking about it.
We learned that in Boston, as with many other cities, the heat is worse in areas that have more structures and less green space. This is because of how the heat interacts with the different environments. Not only do green spaces provide shade with trees, but they allow the heat to dissipate as well. Urban structures, on the other hand, absorb the heat and it builds up in the area. Currently, air conditioning units are the most widespread and effective tool for cooling indoor areas. However, many people in Boston cannot afford them, and this combined with the fact that many low-income areas in the city have little to no green space provides for a very difficult situation for the vulnerable populations that occupy such neighborhoods. And besides, you can't cool an outdoor area with air conditioning, and the units aren't exactly the best for the climate either!
So how can we address these problems? One obvious solution is to add more green space into areas that don't have it and have populations that are particularly vulnerable to the heat. There are additionally technologies currently being developed to help cool outdoor places efficiently and without adding to the issue of climate change. I personally do not know of a more environmentally-friendly alternative to air conditioning that is just as effective, but it is always helpful to not overuse it. Perhaps the use of glass that does not allow for temperature transfer in windows can help, and it would prevent heat from building up in people's houses when the sun is bright. All this being said, there are many different ways to address the issue of extreme heat that is with us right now, and there are infinitely many that I haven't covered nor even know of. It is simply a matter of learning about and implementing those strategies, especially where they are needed most.
See you soon,