By Ben Jealous
All of us suffered last week through day after day of the hottest average temperatures ever recorded on Earth. Now imagine it had been 10% hotter where you live.
That wasn’t hard to do for residents in urban neighborhoods where pavement, concrete and glass far surpass leafy trees. The people who live there pay a heat tax through their health and their economic well-being.
Roughly 80% of Americans live in urban areas and roughly 80% of those city dwellers live in neighborhoods with less than 20% tree cover. And those places with minimal tree canopy experience significantly higher temperatures than green neighborhoods just miles away. That’s true in big cities like Newark and New Orleans and smaller ones like Burlington, Vt., and Erie, Pa.