So much of the time, we hear about the global crisis of climate change. We understand that the world at large needs to learn conservation and improve sustainability. It needs to eliminate pollution-producing factories and promote clean transportation as much as possible. This wide focus can prove overwhelming, giving little guidance to local areas about where to start. In reality, we should be zoning in our global efforts to the cities harming our environment the most.
According to the researchers of one recent study, controlling climate change in highly populated cities can slingshot its green influence in neighboring cities all around. This study analyzed nearly 1,700 cities and then published its results in the journal Nature Climate Change.
In these cities, the scientists attribute the increased climate effect (more than double the national average) to what they call the urban heat island. This heat island happens when people remove trees and vegetation and use construction materials like asphalt and concrete.
These materials then trap in heat within the city, alongside fossil-fuel-powered electricity and carbon-emitting vehicles. In turn, the trapped heat magnifies the effects of climate change, resulting in carbon emissions that far outweigh smaller towns and rural areas. If we could focus our efforts on controlling carbon emissions in these cities, we would make huge progress in regulating climate change globally.
Investing in Climate Change
While the national officials sway back and forth on this issue, local governments have great motivation to invest in sustainable buildings and clean energy. They do, however, run into several problems they must overcome to make their efforts successful.
First of all, many electric companies hold a monopoly for energy in the United States. This monopoly forces consumers to buy electricity from one source: environmentally harmful fossil fuels. People and city officials simply have no choice in the matter.
Another huge source of emissions today is carbon-producing vehicles. The US relies heavily on individual transportation to get around, and few groups are making efforts to reduce the number of these vehicles being used. According to Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, authors of the new book Climate of Hope, city officials need to focus on mass transportation for better control in this area.
Unfortunately, 70 percent of the nation’s financing for improved infrastructure is going to more urban areas. Whether this unequal division of funds seeks to build up less populated areas or whether it means to keep control out of major cities, the funding in these cities is lacking. If we intend to make any progress in controlling climate change, we need balance in the funding for these cities.
Movements toward Climate Control
Thankfully, millennials and those inspired to take care of our environment are trying to shift focus to climate change. Many individuals are opting for clean energy like solar power. Car companies are working to produce electric cars and solutions for its necessary battery charging. Companies like Google as well as colleges and even countries are working toward reducing their carbon footprints.
However, if we want to see the biggest influence over climate change, we still need to focus on the areas taxing our environment the most. Bloomberg and Pope are urging people to talk to their government officials about the topic. Cities need funding and a viable plan moving in the direction of climate control.
Cities prove the biggest hurdle to improving the environment. They emit more pollution than many small countries from their increasing use of fossil-fuel-powered electricity to their multitudes of carbon-producing cars. Their urban heat island effect also amplifies the pollution, dirtying up the air and the surrounding world even further. Together, we can take control of climate change by focusing on reducing emissions in these densely populated areas.