Cities and Warming

Bjorn Lomberg makes some interesting arguments on how cities around the world are experiencing high temparature rises, are coping with and what possible low-cost solutions would be.

Most of the world’s urban areas have already experienced far more dramatic temperature hikes over the past few decades than the 2.6°C increase expected from global warming over the next hundred years.
Today, the fastest-growing cities are in Asia. Beijing is roughly 10°C hotter than the nearby countryside in the daytime and 5.5°C warmer at night. There are even more dramatic increases in Tokyo. In August, temperatures there climbed 12.5oC above the surrounding countryside, reaching 40oC – a scorching heat that affected not only the downtown area, but also covered some 8,000 square kilometers.

Looking at a fast-growing city like Houston, Texas, we can see the real effect of the urban heat island. Over the last 12 years, Houston grew by 20%, or 300,000 inhabitants. During that time, the night time temperature increased about 0.8°C. Over a hundred-year period, that would translate to a whopping 7°C increase.
Even as temperatures have risen, heat-related deaths have decreased, owing to improved health care, access to medical facilities, and air-conditioning. We have far more money and much greater technological ability to adapt than our forebears ever did.
These options are simple, obvious, and cost-effective. Consider Los Angeles. Re-roofing most of the city’s five million homes in lighter colors, painting a quarter of the roads and planting 11 million trees would have a one-time cost of about $1 billion. Each year after that, this would lower air conditioning costs by about $170 million and provide $360 million in smog-reduction benefits. And it would lower LA temperatures by about 3°C – or about the temperature increase envisioned for the rest of this century.


One thought on “Cities and Warming

  1. DIC 26 , 2007
    jose ma jimenez, Senior Chem. Eng, MS from UMass.
    zapopan, jal, mexico.


    – Another fact influencing global warming -not taken in account usually, except in my research report- and It is the widespread use of roads and streets paving with BITUMEN –over a millon of Km2- a black charcoal wich acts like a plate heater adding billions of Kwatts -by catching 5Kw/m2/day of IR solar energy- that overwar towns air too -as much as +5ºC at noon in my city- and should be prohibited in tropical and ecuator contries and replaxed by -white toped concrete-.
    – As well as the bitumen coats to water proof roofs must be clear -white or aluminized-
    – Of course, nordic lands must be an exception to keep their homes warm with the less heating dependancy.
    – If you think it is pinuts, too, please step nude on it to confirm that your egg breakfast can be cooked too; or open you car window -right above such black carpeting- while wait for the green light, then you tell me.
    – This is another FORGOTEN FACT on global warming debates on forums.
    – Media News blame the sun for such warming from an unharmfull green house effect -which have been there forever- instead sun energy realy is our salvation for XXI century.
    – But at the very end, we engineers all believe that CLIMATE CHANGES ARE due to burning huge amounts of fuels -PETRO, gas and carbon- instead of using petroleum just to make value added petroquemicals and polymers, but not to burn it. SINCE It will last no longer.
    Instead of doing just warnings -we must leave debates behind- it is time to act contributing with feasible projects to stop global overwarming.
    – I hope we all together do some thing in our favor, convince our friends and our politicians and Presidents to make an stop, rethink what is wrong, and correct it rapidly STARTING IN OUR COMMUNITIES.

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