The power of urban trees

We’re having a heatwave in the UK, thanks to the climate crisis. It seemed like a good time to talk about how powerful and important urban trees are.

Urban trees have a huge cooling effect on urban spaces. They cool the ground beneath them, they shade and shelter nearby buildings. The need for air-con goes down when there are trees, which of course reduces energy use and that in turn can help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause the problems in the first place. With a crisis of living cost in the mix too, not everyone can afford to cool their homes. Less affluent areas are less likely to have trees in the first place, though.

Heat can be a killer. 2021 saw thousands of heat related deaths across Europe. Heat puts a strain on the whole body – heat stroke and dehydration cause problems in their own right, and put strain on your organs. Hearts can give up in extreme heat. 

Publicly owned trees have the power to save lives, and to make it more feasible for people to keep functioning safely in hot weather. At the same time, trees help solve the problem of excess C02 in the atmosphere. It’s a win all round.

Cities would be much better places if some of the colossal amount of space given over to driving and parking cars was used instead for trees.

At this time of year I’m very aware of how the shade from a nearby horse chestnut tree impacts on the temperature in my small flat. Smaller living spaces, especially if they’re a bit on the crowded side – are harder to keep cool to begin with. The tree makes a lot of difference. No doubt many people would be helped through excessive heat by the presence of more trees.

Planting more urban trees right now won’t solve the problem immediately, but it’s a good investment in the future.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

One response to “The power of urban trees

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