Trees in a city Marina Lystseva/ Getty Images

Comment les arbres peuvent-ils assainir les villes ?

WASHINGTON, DC – En mai, j’ai eu le douteux privilège de me rendre à Mumbai en Inde pendant le mois le plus chaud jamais enregistré en ces lieux. Le thermomètre n’a pas quitté le 40 °C pendant plusieurs jours. L’écart de température entre se tenir à l’ombre d’un arbre et rester en plein soleil était comme passer du jour à la nuit.

Une canicule n’est pas qu’inconfortable. Elle peut menacer sérieusement la santé du public — et ses conséquences sont souvent oubliées lorsque sont abordés les événements météorologiques extrêmes.

En fait, les phénomènes de canicule causent plus de décès que les autres types d’événements météorologiques extrêmes, 12 000 personnes par an perdant la vie dans le monde entier. Le risque est particulièrement prononcé dans les villes, où l’effet des îlots de chaleur urbains peut augmenter les températures de 12 °C par rapport aux zones adjacentes moins denses. Et le problème ne se limite pas aux villes tropicales comme Mumbai. En août 2003, une canicule aux effets dévastateurs a sévi sur toute l’Europe, fauchant la vie de plus de 3 000 personnes, et ce, uniquement à Paris.

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