By adding more trees to cities, urban planners could save lives.
According to a recent study that was published in The Lancet on Tuesday, increasing the tree cover to 30% in 93 European towns could have avoided 2,644 fatalities from heat-related causes throughout the summer.
According to research main author Tamar Iungman of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, “We already know that high temperatures in metropolitan contexts are related with adverse health consequences, such as cardiorespiratory failure, hospital admission, and premature death.”
The size of this study is unparalleled, and it is the first of its type to focus especially on premature mortality brought on by greater temperatures in urban areas and the number of deaths that could be avoided by more trees.
Cities can become urban heat islands when their vegetation is diminished and heat-absorbing building materials like asphalt, steel, and concrete are used. Although this phenomenon is well known, the study’s authors sought to comprehend how it manifests itself in contemporary climate circumstances in European cities.
As a result, they looked at 57 million people who were all older than 20 and reviewed mortality and temperature data for 93 European cities between June and August of 2015. According to New Scientist, scientists chose that summer because it was the most recent for which they had access to the essential data and because its temperatures matched the average for today’s Europe.
According to the news announcement, the researchers first simulated temperature both with and without the urban heat island effect.
They discovered that with the effect in place, temperatures in cities were, on average, 1.5 degrees Celsius hotter than those in the countryside, with Cluj-Napoca, Romania, recording a temperature difference of 4.1 degrees. Additionally, a total of 6,700 premature fatalities could be attributed to rising temperatures.
Then they speculated about what would occur if cities were greener. Currently, 14.9 percent of European cities are covered in trees. According to The Guardian, the study’s authors increased this to 30% because that is several European countries’ stated objective.
Read More: Google Ads Aided Daily Wire in Spreading Climate Denial, According to A Report.
According to New Scientist, Barcelona, and London, both have 2030 targets for the percentage of trees in their cities. According to the press release, the researchers discovered that attaining that objective and doubling existing tree cover may reduce the average urban temperature by 0.4 degrees Celsius and stop 2,644 additional deaths, or one-third of the excess deaths.
According to Bloomberg, cities might only benefit by going beyond the typical aim of 30% tree cover. The study’s authors also discovered that a 40% increase in tree cover would cool cities by 0.5°C and avert 3,727 deaths.
The authors of the study hope that policymakers will take note of their findings since they are particularly significant in light of the climate catastrophe.
According to research co-author Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Director of Urban Planning, Environment, and Health at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, our city centers are excessively hot. To lessen the impact of the heat island and the associated mortality, we can use natural alternatives like planting trees.
According to the press release, Southern and Eastern European cities, which had the highest temperatures and heat-related mortality rates, stand to benefit the most from additional tree cover.
Read More: Uk A-Listers Join the Campaign to Stop Top Uk Banks from Funding Fossil Fuel Expansion.
Beyond keeping cities cool, planting trees benefits communities by lowering air pollution and improving mental health. The availability of urban green space is a significant environmental justice issue.
Beyond helping cities adapt to climate change, urban trees have numerous additional benefits. According to numerous studies, simply seeing and smelling trees improves one’s health and well-being while also increasing urban biodiversity, according to Yadvinder Malhi, a professor of ecosystem science at the University of Oxford.
However, the majority of tree cover is concentrated in affluent cities and neighborhoods, therefore increasing urban tree cover can lessen inequality and, in particular, can lessen the high climate change vulnerability of poorer neighborhoods.
However, in the face of warming urban climates, planting trees is not the only action required.
Read More: Pennsylvania Is the Eighth State to Set Limits on PFAS in Drinking Water.
No one needs to pass away from the heat, according to Kristie Ebi of the University of Washington, who was not involved with the study. Practically all heatwave-related deaths are preventable.
Communities must be aware of the most efficient interventions because climate change is expected to increase the frequency, intensity, and length of extreme heat events. Particular attention must be paid to establishing and implementing heatwave early warning and response systems.