Furnace Cities

Many of the world's cities are heating up much faster than the global average, because they are drier, darker, and dominated by asphalt and concrete. But the "urban heat islands" can implement simple, cost-effective measures to cool things down.

COPENHAGEN -- It’s possible to see, right now, what global warming will eventually do to the planet. To peek into the future, all we have to do is go to Beijing, Athens, Tokyo, or, in fact, just about any city on Earth.

Most of the world’s urban areas have already experienced far more dramatic temperature hikes over the past few decades than the 2.6°C increase expected from global warming over the next hundred years.

It’s simple enough to understand. On a hot day in New York, locals sprawl out on the grass fields of Central Park, not on asphalt parking lots or concrete sidewalks. Bricks, concrete, and asphalt – the building blocks from which cities are made – absorb much more heat from the sun than vegetation does in the countryside.

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