Plant trees! – One of the most important things we can do to save our cities from global warming in the future is to plant more trees now.

Researcher Brian Stone says, “Across the US as a whole, approximately 50% of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for crops or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases. Most large US cities, including Atlanta, are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole, a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change. As a result, emissions reduction programs like the cap and trade program under consideration by the US Congress may not sufficiently slow climate change in large cities where most people live.”

Stone recommends slowing what he terms the “green loss effect” through the planting of millions of trees in urbanized areas and through the protection and regeneration of global forests outside of urbanized regions. Forested areas provide the combined benefits of directly cooling the atmosphere and of absorbing greenhouse gases, leading to additional cooling. Green architecture in cities, including green roofs and more highly reflective construction materials, would further contribute to a slowing of warming rates.

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