If you’re reading this, it’s likely you know that climate change is humanity’s most urgent challenge. And you likely have an inkling that TreePeople has some viable solutions to offer. You’re correct. With the announcement that 2014 was the Earth’s hottest year in recorded history, it’s clearer than ever that we must get planting, and fast.
Because of climate change, by mid-century Los Angeles is predicted to warm by approximately 5 degrees Fahrenheit, according to an in-depth study by UCLA. The San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel and desert areas will see the number of extremely hot days (with temperatures over 95 degrees) double or triple. Mountain areas will see extreme hot days increase by 5 to 6 times the current number.
The good news is there’s much that we can to slow down and – over decades – reverse this if we take concerted action now. TreePeople is bringing our 40 years’ experience of what works for urban sustainability to achieve three goals that can make a large difference in our city. By achieving these we can not only help reduce the likelihood extreme weather, but we can prepare for what climate change is to come.
- Increase LA’s healthy tree canopy so that streets and buildings are naturally shaded oases of coolness. According to the United States Forest Service, Los Angeles should have an overall tree canopy covering 25% of our urban area (and new research from recent Australian heat waves may push this goal even higher). While some LA areas have more canopy coverage than 25%, vast parts of our city are nearly barren of trees. These are neighborhoods where residents are exceptionally vulnerable to heat and air pollution, and the health and safety impacts that come from being surrounded by parched and uninviting outdoor spaces. Trees not only absorb carbon dioxide, but they can cool urban spaces by as much as 10 degrees. But we cannot achieve the canopy coverage we need without community participation in planting and caring for them. The good news is that in doing so, communities build stronger ties to the earth and to each other – something we always need. Take action: TreePeople is offering a free workshop on “Citizen Forestry” on March 21st.
- Create a local water supply by transforming landscapes to harvest, conserve and store rainwater. Not only is half of LA’s mostly imported drinking water used to irrigate thirsty landscapes, but most of the rain that falls on the city gets swept away to sea, polluting our ocean and beaches. Having a water supply that mostly comes from distant, threatened sources such as the San Francisco Bay Delta, the eastern Sierra Nevada’s diminishing snowpack and the Colorado River leaves us exceptionally vulnerable. But we can take charge of our water supply. If every home harvested rainwater with rain barrels and cisterns, and transformed landscapes into water-conserving “sponges” with rain gardens and native plants, we could come very close to water security. Take Action: TreePeople is offering rain barrel rebates as well as free workshops on turf removal and native plants on February 28th.
- Build healthy soil so that these other two goals can be met. TreePeople supports the use of mulch and building soil health in all our tree planting and landscape transformation work. Trees are actually a major way that rainwater can be harvested and stored in the soil – if there is healthy soil in the root zones. Native plants also have deep roots that open up conduits for water to soak into the ground. The more we unpave LA and replace that pavement with nature, the cooler and healthier our city will be. Take Action: There is an exciting Urban Soil Carbon Water Summit happening on February 24 – 25 at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History where TreePeople founder and president Andy Lipkis will be speaking.
Join us today in this vital work for a cooler, safer, greener tomorrow.