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Heat Wave in the Cities

But the suburbs are EVEN HOTTER: Here's why - Cities like New York are sweltering this summer, but if you live in suburbia, you're in for a hot summer too! The number of very hot days is increasing worldwide, but the rate of increase is more than double in the most sprawling suburban-style metropolitan regions compared with more compact cities, even though one would think just the opposite effect would be the case. But this holds true regardless of the urban regions' climate zone, population size, or rate of growth.

In other words, cities like Los Angeles and Atlanta are hotter than New York or Chicago! A study examined the number of very hot days in 53 US metropolitan regions between 1956 and 2005, and found that the annual number of very hot days increased by almost 15 days on average in the regions with the most sprawl and by less than 6 days in the least sprawling cities. A metropolitan region may include the counties surrounding the city--the Atlanta metropolitan region, for example, has 20 counties.

Urban planner Brian Stone says, "These findings show that the pace of climate change is greater in sprawling cities than in others, which has not been shown before. Because severe heat kills more people on average per year than any other type of dangerous weather, residents of sprawling cities may be more vulnerable to this significant health threat posed by climate change."

Sprawl and land-use regulations appear to influence the frequency of very hot days through their effect on a city's trees and other vegetation. Stone's team found that between 1992 and 2001, the rate of deforestation in the most sprawling metropolitan regions was more than double that of compact regions (in fact, most big cities now encourage planting trees, while suburbs are usually built on cleared land). Other studies have shown that the loss of vegetative cover is one of the main reasons that cities become much hotter than surrounding areas.

Examples of sprawling metropolitan regions include Atlanta, Tampa, and Grand Rapids, whereas Chicago, Boston, and Baltimore are more compact. Stone says, "Factors that affect whether an area remains compact include, among others, local land-use regulations and the timing of a city's growth. Boston grew when streetcars were popular, and Atlanta developed during the era of the automobile."

"Mankind is trapped. I want to help you spring the trap.""The veil between the worlds can fall. The undiscovered country can become your backyard.""Your destiny, each of you, is to become all of God."Find out who said these provocative words and first alerted Whitley to the facts about global warming, which he then wrote about in his book which became the hit film The Day After Tomorrow.

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