Color, Temperature, and Urban Heat Islands

13 02 2015

White reflects and black absorbs.

It’s a simple statement with massive ramifications if our society decides to use the science of color to fight global warming. For centuries cities in places like North Africa and the Mediterranean have been painting everything bright white to keep cool. White reflects the heat radiation back into space while darker colors absorb heat radiation and would therefore increase the temperature in and around the house.

moracco

Moracco

 

Why did we abandon this simple technique that seems like a no brainer in places like Los Angeles? The answer is that it is much cheaper to use dark building materials. Asphalt and tar are two of the most ubiquitous building materials we use to construct cities and roads. The detrimental effect of building like that is referred to as the “Urban Heat Island” effect. This is why cities are generally much hotter than the surrounding countryside.

In cities with ample precipitation, the best solution involves plants on places like rooftops and vacant lots. The city of Boston buried it’s largest highway and built a giant park in it’s place. The “Big Dig” was a disaster as far as construction projects go but the original concept was great. (When I was ten years old, the Major of Boston told me the Big Dig would be done in five years…I am now thirty and they just finished.)

big-dig-before-after-photo

The problem with this approach in Los Angeles is the complete lack of rain. No one should be watering large lawns because it’s just downright irresponsible. Replacing lawns with fake grass actually contributes to the Urban Heat Island and also destroys whatever ecosystem existed there before. Residents of Los Angeles can enroll in a rebate turf removal program whereby you replace the grass with drought resistant plants and get money back from the city.

turf_res_before2

turf_res_after2

Of course if you can’t get people to vaccinate their children, the concept of deadly irresponsibility may not be salient for the residents of greater Los Angeles.

If you want to be a responsable member of society, however, paint white and tear up all that thirsty grass.





Spring is here so go outside!

19 04 2014

Here in southern California there aren’t really any seasons so “Spring” does not have the same impact on people’s lives when it’s sunny and warm all year round. Nonetheless we can pretend that we just got out of months filled with below zero temperatures and vicious blizzards.

Get rid of the weeds that have surreptitiously come back and are waiting to sabotage your beautiful garden planning. If the weeds are growing somewhere nothing is supposed to grow, a chemical weed killer will work well but don’t use chemicals in a place you want plants to live happily. You wouldn’t like your yard to look like this:

Decide what and where you want to plant. Succulents are a good pick for this climate because there plants can withstand the intense sun and also retain water very well. Flowers should be placed in a sun/shade mix because they have a hard time in direct sunlight.

Succulents

Succulents

 

Now you will need all the gardening accessories like bug repellant, a shovel, a hose, and of course don’t forget the beer.

 

 






RSS Do It Yourself

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.